Plantation Barbados (Grande Reserve) 5 Year Old Rum
Review: Plantation Barbados (Grande Reserve) 5 Year Old Rum 88.5/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on July 28, 2011
The Plantation Barbados Grande Reserve 5 Year Old Rum is a Bajan rum blend which has been aged for five years in bourbon casks. The rum was transported from Barbados to France by Cognac Ferrand to be placed in used Cognac casks to enhance the rum before it was bottled as part of Cognac Ferrand’s growing line-up of Plantation Rum.
Cognac Ferrand has a special relationship with a variety of Caribbean rum producers. This relationship is based upon the rum producer’s need for quality oak casks to age their rum. Based upon this relationship, Cognac Ferrand is able to acquire certain old and unique batches of rum from various Caribbean sources, which they bring back to France and finish in their own warehouses and of course their own Cognac Casks.
I was given eight sample bottles, each 200 ml in size, which represent a good portion of the Plantation Rum line-up. The Plantation Barbados Grande Reserve is the third of these sample bottles which I have chosen to review here on my blog.
In the Bottle 4.5/5
All of the Plantation Rums arrive in a highly attractive clear glass bottle with a simple uncluttered label. The larger 750 ml bottles are wrapped in netting; however, the small 200 ml sample bottle I was given lacked this frill (see photo below). The bottle closure is a high density cork which is sure to give the consumer that nice satisfying ‘pop’ when it is first opened. I also should note that the label identifies the spirit as being bottled at 40 per cent alcohol by volume.
In the Glass 9/10
I poured myself a nice glass of the Plantation Barbados 5 Year Old Rum and brought it up to my nose. My initial impression was of a musty leathery aroma accented orange peel and a sweet caramel molasses. I gave the glass the customary tilt and swirl. The spirit deposited light sheen of rum onto the side of my glass, and I watched as the legs formed. They were of an average size and seemed to move at an average pace down the sides of the glass.
As the glass decanted, the leathery mustiness I had noticed initially evaporated into the breezes, and was replaced by a light smell of tarnished blue-green pennies. Perhaps a bit of seaside brine and kelp was rising in the air as well. The caramel molasses I noted earlier began to release baking spices into the air, and some charred aromas of coconut were lifting from the glass along with some banana and vanilla. I like how the complexity continued to build as the glass sat.
In the Mouth 54/60
The rum is much sweeter in the mouth than my nosing of the glass would suggest, as sweet caramel/molasses leads out onto the palate chased by sharp orange peel. That leathery mustiness has reappeared on the palate and I taste a delicate touch of seaside brine as well. Light baking spices (cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and vanilla) seem to evolve from the caramel as the glass breathes.
This evolution continues as caramel and honey begin to play with flavours of banana and orange peel; toasted almonds and charred coconut begin to bring an accents of marzipan and treacle to the glass; and somewhere in the currents of the flavours a hint of fermenting fruit bubbles up and brings in yet another dimension to consider. All in all I am very impressed with the five year old rum.
In the Throat 12/15
It is in the finish that I find my only hint of disappointment, as the exit is almost cloyingly sweet. Not even the hot spices that heat up the mouth can counter this effect.
The Afterburn 9/10
I continue to be delighted with the Plantation Rums from Cognac Ferrand. The Plantation 5 year Old Barbados Rum appears to be a step up from the previously reviewed Plantation Barbados 2000 (Old Reserve Rum). It carries a few more subtleties and a firmer impression of seaside brine. I also like how I am not being clobbered over the head with the Cognac enhancement. I can taste whispers of fermented fruit and perhaps a ghost of the cognac barrel, but these flavours stay in the background allowing the fine Barbados rum to shine through.
My Final Score is out of 100 and you may (loosely) interpret the score as follows:
0-25 A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky. Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89 Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94 Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.
Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and Bronze medal scale as follows:
70 – 79.5 Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5 Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95 Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+ Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)