Rhum J.M Millésime 1995 15 Year Old

J.M 1995-RG2-USE

Product of:  Martinique
Aged:  15  years
Price: ~$250
Alcohol: 44.8% ABV 
Sugar: 0g/L
Context:  Rhum Vieux Agricole
RG Rating: 10

Tasting Notes 
Looking into my tasting glass at Rhum J.M 1995, I was moved to blurt out loud:  “Wow!  Look at that color - beautiful golden oak and polished copper.”  (Mind you, I was drinking alone.)  Even in my narrow tasting glass, a quick swirl produced perhaps a hundred legs beading up quickly, then running like a chorus line’s stockings on opening night.  Ahh, such sultry visual appeal is a fine rhum.

The seduction continued.  If I could be momentarily liberated from the de rigueur clinical categorization of individual scents, and instead offer a single descriptive sense, the word that best captures J.M 1995’s bouquet is simply;  “Elegance.”   Millésime 1995 is one of the most balanced AOC rhums vieux I have ever had the pleasure to sniff.  Perhaps putting too fine a point on it, J.M 1995 smells like rhum ought to.  It is rich beyond belief, mildly vegetal and herbaceous of sugarcane, with J.M’s signature touch of star anise, oak and vanilla.  If there’s such a sense as aromatic texture, then this one is akin to flaky, buttery French pastry.  Yet, your ultimate reward is reserved for the tasting.  A creamy mouth entry delivered on a medium-full body, then oaken flavors in perfect balance between sweet and mild pepper.  The finish keeps delivering flavor, fading slowly like the Cheshire Cat’s grin your face unknowingly expresses as gratitude for sampling one of the finest Rhum Vieux Agricoles available today. 

One of Rum Gallery's most delightful experiences-  Sampling vintage Rhum J.M straight from the barrel at the distillery.

Anecdotes
La Distillerie J.M is independent and the last single-domaine rhummerie on Martinique.  J.M has had only two master distillers over the past 83 years.  For the last 42 vintages, Mr. Lazaire Canatous has distilled rhum J.M.  His father produced 40 vintages before him.  Certainly they have honed their craft into a fine art over those eight decades.

Regarding the age of this rhum; 1995 indicates the date of harvest, and more specifically the date of distillation (according to AOC regulations).  Distillation occurs a couple days after harvest - time is needed for fermenting.  Belgian baker’s yeast developed specifically for alcohol beverages is used as a starter, but augmented with the natural yeasts on the cane stalks and wild airborne yeasts that find their way into the open top fermentation tanks.  

The raw distilled spirit was laid down to rest at 55% ABV during June of 1995 in re-charred American oak barrels previously used to age bourbon.  J.M’s 10 and 15 year vintages are bottled undiluted from cask strength.  However, the final ABV is reduced by the Angel’s share during aging, removing less than 1 degree of alcohol per year.  J.M’s location in the relatively humid microclimate surrounding Mt. Pelee causes the spirit’s alcohol to evaporate more rapidly than water.  After maturing for a full 15 years and giving up 70% of the original contents  to the Angels, the 1995 rhum was bottled on June 27, 2011.  Reviewed here is bottle No. 001382.

J.M 1995 Box Detail M-RG2

J.M’s renders their typical label in leather for their special 15 year old rhums, and seals the bottle with a thick green wax to cover the natural cork stopper.  The bottle is delivered in a wooden box of mahogany that adds a certain panache to the overall presentation.  Those few subtle differences are all the clues provided to honor this incredible expression of the master’s art.

To see two excellent videos about Rhum J.M, click here and  there.  Also, check out the Rum Gallery's photo tour of La Distillerie J.M here.

Opinion
Rhum J.M Millésime 1995 could change the palate preferences of doubtful aficionados who have not yet acquired a taste for fine agricoles.  As for for rum connoisseurs, one long aromatic inhale and a sip is all we need.  J.M.’s Vintage 1995 Rhum is all things Luxe:  Expensive, elegant, and produced only in very limited quantities.  The Angels saw to the last point, dammit.  If you’re lucky enough to find J.M 1995  and pass on the opportunity to own it, so be your wish.  I’ll be next in line buying every bottle.  Rhum J.M’s 1995 vintage fifteen year old rhum is expected to make landfall in the USA late in 2013.    

Reviewed:  June 2013 at The Rum Gallery, USA.

© Dave Russell 2017