Jamaica’s Plantation Rum, owned by Maison Ferrand in France, has been pushing the boundaries of rum — particularly in terms of quality — for some years now. Its latest experiments have taken it into some unusual territory, which begins with a 100% pot still rum and moves from there into some truly wild territory: 21 year old rum unearthed in Plantation’s Long Pond Distillery, aged an additional year in France in Cognac casks before bottling at barrel strength. Two different styles are offered (though both are noted as very “high ester” rums, and both were made in 1996 at the same distillery. (About 2000 bottles of each were produced.)
Plantation Xaymaca Special Dry Rum – Per Plantation: “This rum is a magical blend of pot still rums from two legendary Jamaican distilleries — Clarendon and Long Pond — that are ‘married’ and double-aged in ex-Cognac barrels at the Ferrand estate in Cognac. Most of the Jamaican rums that we know today are a blend of column and pot still rums and rarely do you find aged pot still rum from Jamaica, let alone double-aged.” No age statement offered. Plenty of hogo here, with a considerable baby diaper smell, along with aromas of overripe banana, wet sand, and musk. Pot still rum like this is definitely challenging in its complexity, but the palate is so full of juicy fruit, including mango, pineapple, lime peel, and coconut that it’s hard not to fall a little in love with. Sweet and tropical on the finish, it benefits greatly from a splash of water, which helps to cut through the funk considerably. 86 proof. B+ / $25 [BUY IT NOW FROM CASKERS]
Also fun: Plantation sent along the two “marks” — the unblended (and cask strength) rums produced at Clarendon and Long Pond — for comparison to Xaymaca Special Dry. In tasting the Clarendon straight (or even cut with water), you can really see what drives the hogo in the finished product, its beefy, sweaty character seeping from your pores once you take a few sips.
Plantation Jamaica Extreme No 3 HJC 1996 22 Years Old – Lightly smoky, with herbal aromas dominating, giving it a certain savoriness led by cloves and well-toasted coconut. The palate is a bit more traditional, albeit with lots of spicy clove and nutmeg notes, some graham cracker, and a smattering of lightly fruity apple and apricot notes to give it a lift. It’s still quite savory, almost pungent at times, with a very sharp finish. Quite exotic and unusual, but worth exploring. 112.4 proof. A- / $250
Plantation Jamaica Extreme No 3 ITP 1996 22 Years Old – A very different mark, starting with the aromatic and engaging nose of coffee bean, burnt toffee/molasses, and some banana notes. The palate is huge, with lots of dark chocolate immediately striking the palate, bold cloves, and an intense nuttiness that gives the rum a real richness. Very hot, it benefits from water even more than the HJC bottling does, helping to elevate a finish that is even stronger with notes of coffee and cocoa powder. Almost whiskeylike at times, and lots of fun. 109.6 proof. A / $250