Neisson Agricole Blanc 52.5

Neisson 52.5-RG2-Blk-USE

Product of:  Martinique
Aged: 3 months in stainless steel
Price: €10.50 ($13.45) at Neisson Distillery
Alcohol: 52.5% ABV 
Sugar: 0 g/L 
Context: Agricole Rhum Blanc 
RG Rating:  10

Tasting Notes 
Extremely Smooth.  Neisson 52.5 is  brilliantly clear, like the surface of highly polished silver; with legs, legs everywhere, long and short, that keep giving and giving.  The bouquet is light sweet vegetal cane, followed quickly by complex aromas of the most delicate buttery croissant and a hint of almond, anise, sweet lemon and mild smoke.  It is surprisingly easy to sniff as the high alcohol content does not attack your nose.  The initial taste releases a pleasantly deep body of flavor (especially for an agricole blanc), with a touch of white pepper on the tip of your tongue from the alcohol, then an oily texture that coats the palate slowly, spreading sweet warmth, buttery flaky pastry and licorice flavors, lingering well into a mildly sweet finish.

Neisson 52.5-RG2-Blk-USA

Neisson began importing 52.5% Blanc to the USA in early 2014, packaged in the bottle shown at right.  

Many aspects of AOC-spec agricole rhum production impress me, but overall I’m struck by the important placed on terroir as a defining factor in Martinique’s rhum, much the same is attributed to the unique characteristics of continental France’s wine regions.  I wouldn’t argue theterroir point; even with Martinique’s small land mass and similarities of rhum production, each distillery’s rhum is unique.  Spend some time on the island, and soon enough you’ll be able to discern one distillery’s rhum from another in a blind tasting.  Case in point: Distillery Neisson, producing only 2% of Martinique’s rhum, maintains a unique flavor.  

Neisson 52.5 Agricole blanc is distilled mostly from blue cane cane grown exclusively around the distillery in near Martinique’s Northern coast near the Caribbean sea in La Thieubert.  The cane is harvested “green” (without burning), and one-third is still cut by hand. The cane grows in fairly widely spaced rows, allowing weeding of the fields three times each season, preserving water for the sugarcane.  The soil is of volcanic origin, has a well-drained sandy-clay-limestone texture, with a subsoil of volcanic pumice from Mount Pelée.  The climate is relatively dry, at less than 60 inches of rain/year.  

Neisson Tasting Room 2

Neisson ferments their fresh blue cane juice with baker’s yeast. The distilled spirit comes off copper column Savalle still after a single pass at an average 73% ABV, then stored in 200 hectolitre (~5,200 gallon) stainless steel tanks for at least three months (per AOC regulations).  The rhum is occasionally stirred to remove undesirable volatiles.  Reduction to bottle strength (52.5% ABV) with desalinated, dechlorinated water in three steps takes time, but is done so as to not transform the rum with a chemical change.

Neisson 52.5% blew me away when I first sampled it at Neisson’s tasting room - quite an achievement considering I’d spend nearly a week sampling the finest white and aged rhums the island’s distilleries had to offer.  It has same affect every time I sip 52.5%.  Yes, Neisson 52.5 is a wonderful sipper, yet it’s perhaps better suited to slight dilution in an iced ‘Ti Punch, where it’s releases more of it’s true magic.  Deliriously Delicious.  While you can’t judge  a book by its cover, Neisson’s frosted bottle hints at what ‘s inside: an agricole blanc with a unique velvety texture.

Reviewed:  March, 2013 at the Neisson Distillery’s tasting room on Martinique, and later in May at The Rum Gallery, USA.

© Dave Russell 2017