Review: Rhum J.M. Blanc, XO French Oak, and Sirop (2020)
We’ve looked the agricole rums of Martinique’s Rhum J.M. on many occasions, but this is only our second spin with J.M.’s white rum and our first formal review of any of J.M.’s XO bottlings. We also take a peek at J.M.’s Sirop de Canne, a flavored sugar syrup built for mixing with its own agricole.
Rhum J.M. Rhum Agricole Blanc (2020) – Designed to showcase the “raw power” of agricole. It’s got all the hallmarks: Heavy petrol on the nose, with a hint of coconut. The palate however is quite flavorful, balancing the rustic, dieselness on the tongue with a punch of tropical fruit that runs from coconut to pineapple and back, with a spritz of lime in the middle. Plenty approachable without adulteration, it’s even better with J.M. Sirop (see below); add these two plus lime to make a classic Ti’ Punch cocktail. 100 proof. A- / $33
Rhum J.M. Rhum Agricole X.O. French Oak Finished – This particular bottling is aged for 5 years in used bourbon casks, then finished for 1 year in French oak. (JM XO is normally aged exclusively in bourbon casks; this is a one-off release.) I find the nose surprisingly hard-edged, overwhelmingly woody with hints of spice and incense; it feels more whiskey-like than rum-like, at least aromatically, with a hefty herbal component. The palate is dry, showing lots of wood, with a distinctly vegetal element that recalls green pepper, meandering its way toward dark chocolate and, eventually, some torched sugar on the finish. It finds its balance in the end, but the conclusion still feels surprisingly rustic. 90 proof. B+ / $70
Rhum J.M. Sirop – Made by reducing pressed sugarcane juice until it becomes syrup. Flavoring is added. The syrup has a fun and slightly funky flavor, balancing a brown sugar sweetness, almost honeylike, with a gently vegetal note. Rich and enveloping, with some vanilla, a hint of coconut, and a light note of chocolate on the finish. Use it in lieu of regular simple syrup for a fun twist on any cocktail. A / $18