Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Actual Quality: Plantation 3 Stars Rum

sadly I think I used my decent picture in an earlier post
We might have stumbled across something of a gem here. There I was, just calling into the Trafford Centre to collect my sister’s birthday present, with a trip to Asda for party wine and beer to follow, when I realised I had an uncertain quantity of M&S vouchers in my wallet… that I was sure I could use to buy  a bottle of tequila or a bottle of rum…

And so here we are, with Plantation 3 Stars rum. It’s white (or silver), a pleasing 41.2%, and blended by Cognac producer Pierre Ferrand from rums distilled in Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad. The Plantation range consists of 12 expressions, ranging from this one at the bottom of the scale, through rums of various vintages, ages and cask finishes that sound pretty special and very tempting. It all began because Maison Ferrand would sell casks that had contained Cognac to Caribbean rum producers for ageing their products, and one day  happened to discover some very old batches that they decided to bottle.

According to the producer’s website, this one begins with a 3-year aged Trinidad rum, which is “carbon filtered to maintain its white colour and remove the heavier tannins while preserving the aromatics developed and refined by aging”. Un-aged rums from Barbados and Jamaica are then blended, along with a more expensive 12 year old rum from Jamaica, which is said to be the key to the whole blend. “Trinidad brings elegance and refinement, Barbados brings character and aromatics with fruit notes without being too heavy and Jamaica brings the funk, the touch that makes it a complete product.” 

And that’s the most marketing blurb you’re going to get out of me. I just thought it was quite interesting, and that the producer said it better than I could.

Onto the evaluation; I’ve never found rum particularly interesting before, but this brand has made me think again. It helps that its strength exceeds 40%, but most importantly, this is really tastey.

Even before I realised a reputable cognac producer was behind this product, I could tell it was going to be a little bit special from the presentation. The bottle looks the part and is tastefully sealed. There’s maybe a little bit too much to read on the label, but at least you know it has something to tell you. You probably are surprised when you read that it was blended in France, but you also start to think that this will turn out to be a good thing – after all, this wasn’t a  Lidl product, blended in Germany – I’d just been to M&S, after all. Then you look on the internet and realise it isn’t even a made for M&S product. It’s actually all that stuff that I mentioned earlier in the article.

Sure, the £15 in M&S vouchers and another £3 off helped make my mind up in regard to the purchase – it was intended mostly for mojitos, in actual fact – but it represents one of those watershed moments where I’ll resolve to get something like this in future, instead of settling for something shit. It’s like tequila in that respect; as soon as I tasted 100% agave and found that I could get it fairly reliably for £20, I could see no sense in buying anything inferior ever again – even for gratuitous mixing (a practice that takes place less and less in my house these days). And I never did make any mojitos with it.

Not being one for detailed tasting notes, I’ll just tell you, this is very sweet. Sweet, but full of flavour. Cast your mind back to the last time you tried drinking Bacardi or one of those supermarket white rums straight. Even though they are only 37.5% or something like that, there’s little in the way of flavour there, it’s just alcohol, for adding weight to your fruit juice or getting you hammered. This is white rum you can actually sip. I didn’t think such a thing existed. But I’m here to tell you, it does, and it’s worth your £25 if you’re in the market for a new bottle that might surprise you.

And you don’t just have to take my word for it. “Buy clever not expensive” says one user reviewer on The Whisky Exchange, and never has a user review been more on the money. Yes, it’s twice as expensive as your standard supermarket own brands and nearly £10 more expensive than standard white rum brands such as Bacardi, but for £25, you’re getting something that you can confidently call actual quality, and that’s probably a first for me in the genre of rum – especially white rum.

Meanwhile, a user review on Master of Malt says that there are only two white rums that can be called amazing, and this is one of them. Even if there is only one other amazing white rum out there (J Wray, apparently), I won’t be so quick to write this genre off in future.

For my part, I took this along with me to a party in Sheffield where it went down a treat with everyone that tried it. They pretty much all said it was the best straight rum they’d tried and that they would definitely buy it at £25 from M&S for themselves. Now, some months later, whether they have done I don’t know. But I do know I’ll be investing in another bottle soon. If you’re still not convinced, remember I have already recognised this product in my 2015 Spirits of theYear. High praise indeed.

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