Depaz VSOP


Product of:  Martinique
Aged:  4
 years minimum
Price:  €20  on Martinique (about US$27 and online)
Alcohol: 45% ABV
Sugar: 0g/L
Context:  Rhum Vieux Agricole
RG Rating: 8.5

Tasting Notes
Very Smooth.  A powerful genie of a bouquet is released as soon as the cork is pulled, and she wears a fine perfume of sweet oaky caramel scents and the knowing heat of 45° ethanol.  Depaz VSOP displays a stunningly bright hue of polished red mahogany.  I’d say it’s ideal color for rhum vieux.  Swirling distributes a thick cloak of rhum across the inside of a tasting glass, producing many fast-forming stout legs which run quickly away, leaving little trace of their appearance.

The aromas are noticeably deeper with old wet charred wood and damp tobacco, spices (anise, cinnamon, ginger, clove) tempered by prune, and then a subtle floral nuance rises above the heavier aromas as you nose gets saturated by them.  The rhum really smells like you’ve opened the barrel and taken a whiff of what’s inside.  The sensory journey transitions quickly.  Visually and aromatically, the finer points of Depaz VSOP’s appeal is very complex but fleeting, so be ready.

The flavors are far more forward than you expect from sniffing, with a healthy dose of star anise spice working in parallel with caramel and wood sugars, on a body of robust character.  The finish makes a long sweet goodbye, the spiciness fading sooner, leaving the sweet agricole and oak sweetness to linger like mild cocoa milk chocolate.

Depaz VSOP is packaged in a rather unadorned bottle of a shape often used for champagne or Pinot Noir wine.  It’s frosted green surface treatment gives little hint to the excellence of the rhum inside.  Of course as with any fien rhum, tasting is always sweeter when you are at the source.  At Distillerie Depaz at the foot of iconic Mont Pelée, I was treated to a private and thorough tour of the distillery, which gave me insight into the gentle humility that goes into crafting every Depaz rhum.  A suite of rhums were offered for tasting under the looming copper column stills.  Most of them simply do not make their way to my shores.  The gift shop was a most welcome final stop.  See more of the Depaz distillery here. 

Depaz VSOP is an excellent complex rhum vieux agricole, and a bargain at that.  The aromas and flavors are the signature of Depaz tradition, making this rhum a reference for understanding and appreciating the distillery’s other fine offerings.

Reviewed:  August 2014 at The Rum Gallery, USA.

© Dave Russell 2017