Gauguin Tahitian Rum

Gauguin Tahitian Rhum-Wht-RG1-USE

Product of:  Tahiti
Aged:  less than 3 years
Price: $25
Alcohol: 40% ABV
Context:  Premium Aged Rum
RG Rating: 7.5

Tasting Notes 
Gauguin Tahitian rhum shows a pale gold color in your glass and plenty of slender legs, which last longer than expected but disappear without a trace once they’ve run their course.  Sniff, and young, hearty rum smells are the first you’ll notice – slightly harsh and bitter like dunder and under-rectified alcohol.  More subtle aromas of mild caramel are apparent too, but the best scents are saved for last as you find a hint of the sweet floral vanilla that’s grown only on Tahiti.  You have to work a little to unearth those parts, but the effort is rewarding and reminiscent of the orchid-perfumed air of the Society Islands.  At first taste, the body is hearty, of medium weight, a bit rough and not sweet.  Then Gauguin rum makes a soft but quick transition just as the  the aromas did, delivering appealing flavors of vanilla, coconut, mild caramel and overripe tropical fruit.  Those latter flavors round off the edges on the finish nicely as the rum eases into a pleasant memory.

No te aha oe riri? (Why Are You Angry?) 1896-RG.

Certainly, no rum can possibly equal the beauty of the islands of Tahiti nor the artistry of Paul Gauguin.  So why emboss his name on your bottle and use his artwork for your label?.  I believe it’s because the maker  seeks to call attention to the fact that Paul Gauguin fully appreciated Tahiti for its natural beauty, its color and the basic pleasures pursued by its people.  Paul Gauguin is probably the most well-known westerner associated with Tahiti.  Unlike many of the caucasians who visited, he was neither a colonist nor a missionary set on altering the inhabitants’ lives.  His mission was to discover nature’s harmony, and he found it in French Polynesia.  Look at Gauguin rum’s label, appreciate the artist’s quest, and then the rum takes on greater significance.


The Artist
Paul Gauguin’s brilliant colors and simple body shapes, especially remarkable in his painting of the Polynesian people, are what we most commonly associate with the artist.  By the time he was in his forties, Gauguin was still a pauper, despite having achieved a measure of critical notoriety with his unique depictions of Christian religious events, namely "The Yellow Christ" and "Vision of the Sermon."  These earlier works broke the Impressionist trend of his contemporaries by focusing on form and solid colors, earning the self-taught artist considerable, if inconsistent acclaim.    

Gauguin always searched for essential forms in nature. His term for this purity was “savage”, and he called his evolving artistic style “synthetic symbolism” now called Primitivism.  Gauguin left his Paris birthplace for Brittany, where he found initial inspiration in the nearly-Medieval region. The wild colors symbolic of his later works were influences from his time in the tropics – first Panama, then five months on Martinique in 1887, and later in French Polynesia.  Gaugin was quite taken by the beauty of the French West Indies.  He was estranged from his family and ultimately fled the structure of European society, shipping himself off to Tahiti around1890.  In French Polynesia, he discovered his heavenly place among the native population’s essential (savage) conditions, as well as his final resting place on Atuona, Hiva Oa, Marqueses Islands. French Polynesia.

Gauguin Embossed on Bottle-crop

The Rum  
Can Gauguin Rum approximate the artistry of Paul Gauguin or the islands of Tahiti?  No, nothing could.  Gauguin Tahitian rhum pales in comparison to the post-Impressionist artist’s work, and offers but a faint whiff of the floral vanilla air wafting off the islands.  Neither is the rum as beautiful as the islands and the natives that Paul Gauguin was so enamored with.  But Gauguin rum is true to the artist’s search for life’s colorful essence.  It’s raw flavor and Tahitian vanilla bean aroma are suitable testimony to that.  

Perhaps I enjoy Gauguin rum more than most people. As a sipping rum, I admit it’s just OK.  As a a souvenir of a vacation in the most beautiful islands on Earth, it’s a little better.  For me, one simple sniff and a sip reminds of sailing trips around isles Sous-le Vent en Polynésie française, wondering at the heavenly beauty that so enthralled the artist. That is priceless.  So travelers, as far as Tahitian souvenirs go, this rum is worthy.  Buy two; one to show and one to drink.  Enjoying a glass of Gaugin rum is the easiest way to recall your pleasant memories of Tahiti.  

Reviewed:  September 2013 while sailing around the islands of Tahiti, and again at the Rum Gallery, USA.

© Dave Russell 2017