Most of the rhum agricole — a type of rum distilled from sugar cane juice instead of molasses — imported into the United States comes from the French Caribbean island of Martinique. Brands like Clément, Rhum J.M., and Neisson are hardly household names, but they dominate this sector of the market.
Now there’s a new player on the American scene: Rhum Damoiseau, hailing from the island of Guadeloupe, and imported by Clément USA. It is currently available in two varieties, an unaged Rhum Blanc and an aged Rhum VSOP. These notes are on the latter.
Damoiseau Rhum VSOP is aged for at least four years in barrels previously used to mature bourbon. Spirits age quickly in the Caribbean, so even four years is long enough to give this rum a rich amber color.
The aroma is sweet and fruity, almost winey in its composition. The flavor, however, is rather dry, with the oak aging making its presence known through the taste of spice, along with a slight tannic bitterness. It’s not what I was expecting, given the smell. But it’s very flavorful and well balanced.
Damoiseau Rhum VSOP is not the style of rum I would usually turn to for drinking neat. It’s a little too dry for that, although that’s purely a matter of personal preference. But it does have the flavor profile and complexity that I suspected would make great cocktails. And it does indeed. I tried it in a Mai Tai and a Donga Punch and it worked superbly in both.
For comparison purposes, I also tasted the Damoiseau Rhum VSOP side-by-side with Rhum Clément VSOP, my go-to rhum agricole. I found the two rums to be similar and comparable. Both are excellent and recommended.