It’s never easy for lovers of rhum agricole in the United States.
Supply of the cane-juice nectar of the French Caribbean has always been scant in America, with just a few brands that have even entered the market in the last decade.
The two companies with the biggest presence have always been Martinique’s Rhum Clement and Rhum JM, whose entry to the market a little over a decade ago was a very welcome development.
Even so, finding those companies’ most sought after expressions in the U.S. has often been next to impossible.
Rum lovers have always had to make the trip to Martinique, St Maarten (or the Caribbean Rum Awards in St Barth) to even have a chance to find the best bottles.
There’s one exception, and U.S.-based rum aficionados probably recognize it: it’s the Rhum JM with the leather label, the one that’s always at the corner of the back shelf of the liquor store.
For those who find it, it’s a collector’s item: the 15-year vintage, almost always the single-best bottle of rhum agricole you can buy off the shelf in the United States, a sought-after expression for one of the island’s most venerable distilleries.
And now it’s back again, this time from 2003, with an even more beautiful wooden-frame packaging, a new look for what was one of the best JM vintages of the last decade.
It’s instantly a collector’s item.
So what’s it actually like?
This 41.8-degree expression has that classic JM amber color, with an aroma of citrus peel, cane stalk, chocolate orange and a hint of herbs.
The flavor profile is marked by oak, citrus, dried cherries; carambola; apple; tobacco; a whisper of white pepper; all working in exquisite harmony, the concerto that can only be played by a pure cane juice rum.
The finish is long, luscious and velvety; it just keeps going and going before it softly fades away like a Wild West horizon.
It’s just astonishingly good; a spectacular expression from a wonderful vintage; the kind that always finds its way to the top shelf of your collection.
And the kind of bottle for which it’s never easy to stay on the shelf.
Rum Journal Review: 97 Points