Navigation
Search This Blog

Return to KLWines.com

Spirits Journal Podcast Archive

Spirits Journal Twitter Feed

K&L Uncorked Blog

K&L Spirits Tasting Schedule:

Weds from 5 - 6:30 PM

7/9 - San Francisco: No Tasting

7/9 - Redwood City: Ron Zacapa Rum

2014 K&L Exclusive Scotland Whisky

1990 Glenfarclas K&L Exclusive Single Malt Whisky PRE-ORDER


Glenfarclas "The Faultline Casks" K&L Exclusive First Fill Oloroso Sherry Casks Single Malt Whisky PRE-ORDER


1998 Laphroaig 15 Year Old Signatory K&L Exclusive Single Refill Sherry Butt Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


1983 Caol Ila 30 Year Old Signatory K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


2002 Bowmore 11 Year Old Signatory K&L Exclusive Single Refill Sherry Hogshead Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW


1992 Bruichladdich 21 Year Old Signatory K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


1988 Balmenach 26 Year Old Signatory K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky PRE-ORDER


1997 Benrinnes 17 Year Old Signatory K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


1997 Dailuaine 16 Year Old Signatory K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky PRE-ORDER


1995 Glen Elgin 18 Year Old Signatory K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


1997 Glenlivet 16 Year Old Signatory K&L Exclusive Single Sherry Butt Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


1981 Glenlivet 32 Year Old Signatory K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


1996 Bowmore 16 Year Old Faultline Single Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


Bladnoch "Young" K&L Exclusive Heavily Peated Single Barrel #57 Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


Bladnoch 11 Year Old K&L Exclusive Lightly Peated Single Barrel #303 Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


2005 Glenrothes 8 Year Old K&L Exclusive "Sovereign" Single Sherry Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


1997 Glengoyne 16 Year Old K&L Exclusive "Sovereign" Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


Kilchoman K&L Exclusive Single Bourbon Barrel #172 Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


Kilchoman K&L Exclusive Single Bourbon Barrel #74 Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


2013 K&L Exclusive Scotland Whisky Still Available

2005 Island Distillery 7 Year Old K&L Exclusive "Exclusive Malts" Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky 750ml IN STOCK NOW!


2001 Royal Lochnagar 10 Year Old Faultline Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky 750ml IN STOCK NOW!


1995 Glendronach 18 Year Old Single PX Barrel Cask Strength Blended Scotch Whisky 750ml IN STOCK NOW!


1994 Benriach 19 Year Old Single Bourbon Barrel Cask Strength Blended Scotch Whisky 750ml IN STOCK NOW!


1989 Cragganmore 23 Year Old Faultline Single Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


1992 Longmorn 21 Year Old Faultline Single Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


1987 Mortlach 25 Year Old Faultline Single Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky IN STOCK NOW!


1983 Miltonduff 30 Year Old Faultline Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Whisky 750m IN STOCK NOW!


« K&L Spirits Podcast #20 - Ed Hamilton's Ministry of Rum | Main | Bring On The Haters »
Sunday
Nov132011

What is Rhum Agricole?

While all rum is in some way a byproduct of sugar cane, most rums are made from molasses.  Those sweet and creamy Ron Zacapa, Zaya, and El Dorardo rums that fly off our shelves daily are examples of the most accessible - rich molasses distillates that are aged in sherry barrels for smoothing out the flavors.  Right next to those bottles on the K&L shelf, however, are bottles like Rhum J.M., La Favorite, and Batiste that seemingly are interchangable with the above mentioned producers, since all produce rum in the end.  Neverthesless, about once a month a customer will walk back into the store with an open bottle of Agricole Rhum and say to me, "I bought this here for making mai tais and there's something wrong with it.  This tastes totally herbal and weird."  "Ah yes, my friend," I'll reply, "that would be the common response to Rhum Agricole," the rum distilled not from the byproduct of sugar, which would be molasses, but rather from the fresh juice of the sugar cane itself.

Generally speaking, Rhum Agricole is produced on the French Caribbean island of Martinique where there is an actual AOC Martinique Appellation, like France has for the wines of Bordeaux or Burgundy.  However, there are other islands that produce it, such as Guadaloupe.  The link between all of the agricole producing locales is their heritage as French-controlled protectorates.  When the French colonized the Caribbean and built sugar refineries, rum was a way to make use of the byproduct.  But in 1870, when France found a cheaper way to produce sugar from sugar beets, the price of sugar plummeted and many of the refineries, which had taken out debt on their mortgages, were forced into bankruptcy.  The remaining rum drinkers on the islands were forced to get creative and Rhum Agricole was their solution - the natural juice of the sugar cane could be fermented and distilled without refinement.

Like any food or drink culture, societies are forced to work with the ingredients available to them and make those ingredients taste good (which is why street food is usually so delicious).  Rhum Agricole is a byproduct of an earthy, grassy, and sometimes funky tasting plant.  Those characteristics are therefore destined to come through in the distillate.  While I personally enjoy these flavors, I can completely understand why others do not.  When aged, the rhums are entirely sip-able, but the blancs can really throw people for a loop.  If pressed, I'd compare it to the difference between single malt whiskies and single grain whiskies - the grains have an herbal, almost gin-like flavor that is much leaner, and less soft on the mouthfeel.  Needless to say, there are some fantastic recipes for Agricole rum that have developed in the Caribbean over the years.  Doing a Google search for a few cocktails can be quite inspiring.

So if you end up with a bottle of Rhum Agricole by accident, or if you are simply curious about what makes these rhums so unique, grab a bottle of sugar cane syrup (which we sell) and a handful of limes from your local grocer as well.  Making a Ti Punch is quite easy - a tablespoon of syrup with about 2.5 oz of rum and a lime peel in the glass with an ice cube to cool it off.  A seemingly unhappy mishap could possible turn out to be life changing.  Just ask all the guys hanging out at your nearest Tiki bar.

-David Driscoll