Manutea Rhum Vanille

Manutea Vanille-RG2-USE

Product of:  Tahiti
Aged:  Less than 2 years (est.)
Price: $24 on Tahiti
Alcohol: 40% ABV  
Sugar: 0-5 g/L (estimate)
Context: Flavored/Spiced Rum 
RG Rating: 7.5

Tasting Notes
A perfume-like bouquet of floral Tahitian vanilla wafts lazily from the slender bottle immediately after the cork cap is removed, true to the scent in the air surrounding the lush island of Mo’orea.

Manutea showcases the vanilla bean pod in their Rhum Vanille to great effect.  A long brown bean pod is perfectly framed inside a slender clear glass bottle, standing invitingly in contrast with the light golden rhum inside.  It’s attractive in a tasting glass too; swirling produces numerous legs that run at a moderately slow pace down its sides.  On the nose, the rhum is a considerably more earthy and vegetal, a bit aw like a spirit that came off the still at relatively low ABV, and/or the cuts were extended to yield more distillate.  But the sweet vanilla softens the aromas and makes the sniffing pleasant enough to keep you interested and take a sip.  The initial taste is considerably more appealing than the bumpy profile suggested by the aroma.  But it’s the real vanilla bean pod that defines this rhum’s flavors.  Fairly dry on the tongue, with a medium-weight body and a thin, fleeting, but pleasant vanilla aftertaste from the very smooth dry finish. 

Manutea Vanille-Tag

Anecdotes
Tahitian vanilla (Tahitensis) is unique, and far less commonly used than other sources of vanilla flavor.  Its scent is dramatically more floral and it’s flavor noticeably sweeter than Madagascar (Bourbon)  Planifolia vanilla.  To capture that essence in a bottle is magic.  “Show me the Bean” should be the mantra when seeking rums that use vanilla flavoring,  “Natural vanilla” flavor?  Don’t even think your getting the real thing.  Real Vanilla – be it Madagascar or Tahitian – beats the sap out of oak and petroleum-derived vanilla extracts. If you’re isnterested in learning more about this sublime spice, click here.

Opinion  
Many other producers would have ruined this delightful little Tahitian vanille rhum by adding sugar.  Kudos to Manutea for letting their island’s native spice plant define this rhum from the moment you pull the top from bottle to your final sip.  It is neither sophisticated, nor mature, not complex and not particularly elegant.  But it is honest.  Visitors to Tahiti take note:  arrange some space in your luggage for a Manutea Vanille Rhum souvenir or two.  A sip will transport your imagination back to the islands long after memories of your vacation fade.

Reviewed:  March-April 2015 while sailing the islands around Tahiti and again at the Rum Gallery, USA.

© Dave Russell 2017