GUADELOUPE — This edition of Rum Journal heads to the French department of Guadeloupe, just north of Dominica in the lesser Antilles.
Perhaps Guadeloupe’s most popular distillery, Damoiseau is located on the northeastern portion of Guadeloupe’s Grand-Terre island (Guadeloupe is actually an archipelago), and produces signature rhum agricole (although, it should be noted, that is does not enjoy official AOC status like many rhums of its sister island of Martinique.)
Damoiseau’s Bellevue au Moule estate was first established at the end of the 19th century by a native of Martinique, a Mr Rimbaud.
The Damoiseau family acquired the land in 1942, and it has remained in their hands, now under the stewardship of Hervé Damoiseau.
Remember. rhum agricoles, unlike their rum brethren in Spanish and English-speaking countries, are distilled from sugar cane juice — not molasses.
Rum Journal traveled to Damoiseau’s distillery, located in Le Moule, which is open to visitors, and during the off-season (when no harvesting is going on), offers the opportunity to take an individual tour through the farm and production buildings.
RJ tasted Damoiseau’s Rhum Vieux (old rhum) Millesime 1989, the oldest rum on sale at the distillery.
The rhum is very strong — approximately 58.4 percent by volume, or, as many in the French Antilles say, 58.4 degrees. (It’s a term we rather like). The bottle was listed as having begun aging on April 13, 1989, and was bottled in 2010 — approximately 21 years.
The Millesime 1989 has a dark caramel colour, with an aroma of oak and dried fruits. The taste includes notes of toffee, oak, pepper, apricot and a shadow of cherry.
The finish is smooth but robust, consistent with such a high-proof rum (and with most rhum agricoles).
The verdict? Exceptional. Rum Journal recommends that you put it in your cabinet — if you can find it.