La Favorite Cuvée Speciale de la Flibuste

La Flibuste-RG2-USE

Product of:  Martinique
Aged:  blend of rhums aged 30 years
Price: €88 / $102 (on Martinique) 
Alcohol: 40% ABV
Sugar: 25-35 g/L (estimate)*
Context: Rhum Agricole Vieux
RG Rating: 10

Tasting Notes 
Cut through a thick wax and pull the wide cap to unveil a slightly sweet bouquet of caramel, very ripe mango and stewed prunes.  The color is dazzling in its opacity - a dark brown walnut earned from 30 years in oak.

Give la Flibuste a little swirl, then watch the legs take their own sweet time to rejoin the rhum below; their prescient lingering serves the aromas well.  It’s powerfully aromatic indeed, with spices (cinnamon, vanilla and pepper), a star anise/licorice scent so convincing it’ll shut your eyelids, charred oak, and a nitrogenous essence like cut grass or damp leaves covering earth.  The initial taste is fully consistent with the aromas.  Full flavors are delivered on a medium-heavy body, combining like rich cocoa through the moderately long finish, ending with a final, slightly sweet flavor dates and extremely smooth in the throat.

La Flibuste Cap Circle-RG1-USE

La Flibuste is made using an ancestral recipe developed before the AOC was implemented on Martinique in 1995.  Accordingly, this rhum includes some macerated candied fruits (plum, mango?) and spices (cinnamon, pepper?). The sweetness in the rhum is extracted from the  fruits, as La Favorite claims no sugar, syrup nor caramel is added.  Every year’s vintage tastes slightly different from those before and after.  For example, one of my knowledgeable rum tasting friends compared three vintages of La Flibuste as:  “the 82 is clearer, more 'rum', the ‘83 exhibits strong prune juice in both flavor and in texture, whereas the ‘84 is so between the two that we would think it is almost a mixture of ‘82 and ‘83 vintages.” -
Frederic Boulay 

So, what is this rhum if it’s not made to Martinique A.O.C. specifications, and it has real fruit flavors added?  I believe it does this traditional spirit a disservice to lump it into the same category as other Flavored/Spiced Rums.  Not that there aren’t many really good spiced rums on the market, there certainly are.  It’s just that there are so many bad ones.  I think La Flibuste is nearly unique, a rare Martinique tradition, most similar in method to Legendario's Elixir de Cuba.

*RG Note: The amount of sugar extracted is difficult to measure precisely without expensive equipment.  My estimate of the residual sugar is derived by measuring the rhum’s density and using correction tables to derive the sugar content.  The measurement is an approximation and could be in error by a +/- 2X factor because the dissolved  fruits may have also altered the liquid’s density.  

La Favorite remains family owned and independent to this day, and shows levels of competence and familiarity that such management engenders.  Their steam engine was built in France in 1906, and two column stills are employed – one copper and one partly sheathed in stainless steel.  Yes, the raw output from each tastes different from the other.  See a photo tour of the distillery - the last one on Martinique to use steam power, click here.

La Flibuste Blu-RG1

In a private communication with the Rum Gallery, La Favorite described the name of their exceptional rhum as:  “La Flibuste comes from the buccaneers / pirates of the XVII / XVIII century.  A "flibuste" is a set of pirates, a piracy.” 

The bottle itself looks and feels like something a rum-lugging Pirate would appreciate.  A tar could justifiably keel hauled for spilling this rhum on the deck of a pitching ship. No worries; grasp the bottle by it’s neck and feel a thick sealing wax used to seal the cork.  Raised nodules that look like bumps on the skin of a plucked game hen cover the body of the bottle.  A large indentation at the lower back of the bottle  makes an underarm carry easier too.  Of course the cork and wooden cap are real.

La Favorite’s la Flibuste is a flavored rhum agricole like no other.  To truly understand the magic that three decades of aging in oak barrels cared for by Cellar Master Charles Robert does fo a rhum agricole vieux, you must sample la Flibuste.  It is definitive of Martinique’s expertise nonpareil.

 Reviewed:  Lot No. 0478 of the 1982 vintage in March 2013 at the La Favorite distillery, and again in January 2015 at the Rum Gallery, USA.

© Dave Russell 2017