Here’s 6 rhum agricoles from our blind tasting


Though those in the wine world might not welcome it, those of us with a taste for more spirituous drinks can’t hate on the Phylloxera bug too much.

Phylloxera ate its way through the vineyards of France — and the rest of Europe — during the 1860s, and in the process destroyed two-thirds of the continent’s vines.

blind tasting panel

With the vineyards ravaged, so too was the production of wine. Something had to fill the void.


Bartenders in the US, unable to get their hands on a ready supply of grape-based spirits like cognac, looked to their domestic producers and started pouring rye as a substitute in drinks like the Sazerac.

And if the vineyards of France were decimated in the 1860s, then the French Caribbean island of Martinique was booming in the 1880s: the island took its sugar crops, turned them into rhum, and was so successful at it that it boasted some 500 rhum distillers at the time.

Today rhum agricole is a regulated, appellation controlled spirit much sought after by those who like a good drink. And we know from our travels that the bartenders of Adelaide are appreciative of a good drink, too, so we loaded up a stash of rhums from our publisher’s private stash (apologies, Spanton), and gathered at Hains & Co in Adelaide’s CBD.

Given the broad spectrum of spirits we had to taste — some vintage rhums, some young, some old — the direction we gave to our tasters was to give great emphasis on judging each spirit on its own merits. To that end we gave the blind tasting panel the ageing period and whether or not it was the product of a particular year (though we didn’t reveal the specific year so to avoid identification — it is a blind tasting after all).

What is obvious, from the generally high standard of the results, is that the French way of doing things — well, of making rhum at least — is a fine way of doing things. Take a look at the results below.

rhum agricole tasting notesClick on the image to see a larger version

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