Following up on our review of Haiti-based Rhum Barbancourt’s 15 Years Old expression, we push downmarket a bit into a more readily available bottling, Barbancourt 8 Years Old, also known as Rhum Barbancourt Reserve Speciale 5 Stars.
As with all Barbancourt expressions, this is an agricole-style rum made from fresh sugar cane juice (not molasses), double distilled in copper pots. It spends 8 years in French oak before bottling.
Few surprises are to be found on the nose, which is sharp and aggressive for some time, at least until the boozy vapors blow off. Notes of hogo, red wine must, and coconut husks give the rum a certain pungency, while a hint of butterscotch sweetens things up.
The palate twists things around, showing a surprisingly elegant and complex spirit that features notes of caramel, dark chocolate, and baking spice, plus an ample layer of barrel char. The rum turns rather grassy from there, though the hogo funk keeps things ruddy and a bit chewy. The finish is a mix of sweetness with a hint of nuttiness, along with some animalistic gravitas.
Altogether it’s an affordable and approachable bottling that works best as a mixer when aged agricole — and that unmistakable touch of funk — is required in your cocktail.