Saint James Hors D’Age

Saint James Hors D'Age

Product of:  Martinique
Aged:   6-10 years
Price: $49
Alcohol: 43% ABV 
Sugar: 0 g/L 
Context: Rhum Vieux Agricole
RG Rating: 8

Tasting Notes 
Beautiful, medium-amber in color from many years of aging in oak, this rhum is distinctive for its mellow aroma and distinct flavors. Slightly sweet aromas of with fruit, nut, alcohol and mild vanilla, the sniffs are quite inviting. Initial taste is immediate: light viscosity and moderately hot. In the mouth, tastes of dried fruit (apricot), leather, tarry black licorice and caramelized brown sugar are noteworthy. The finish is dry, thin and moderately long, reminiscent of cracked walnut shells.

Anecdotes 
Saint James calls their rhum “single cane” because it is distilled from the juice of pure sugar cane. Hors D’Age is the oldest of a large number of rhums produced by the Saint James distillery that is commonly available in the USA. As is the common practice in the French West Indies, Saint James is an agricole rhum, meaning distilled from fresh sugar cane juice in a single pass through a column still at a relatively low ABV, as opposed to being distilled from molasses in any number and type of stills.

Opinion 
For your appreciation, and out of due respect, Agricole rhums must be considered within their own context.  Agricoles are distinguished by ttheir unique taste and aromas. There is more to their story than is  commonly known. Simpletons will tell you only one aspect, claiming the difference is due to fermenting the juice from fresh cut sugarcane versus the Industrielle rums that are made from fermented molasses.  Distillation techniques, the proof of the spirit exiting the still, aging requirements and required mimimum quantities of residual particulate matter also contrbute to the difference. 

What’s important to us is that rhums agricole generally exhibit distinctly different aromas and flavors from their cousins industrielle. Often, people prefer one style over the other, and there’s nothing wrong with that.  At the Rum Gallery we believe rum is art, and beauty is in the eye (or nose, or taste buds) of the beholder.  It’s a matter of taste anyway.  If you prefer a sweeter style typical of molasses-based multi-column distilled rums, the Saint James isn’t for you. But if you are looking for a dry, elegant sipping rum made in the agricole style, mellowed in oak to a mature age, then Saint James Hors D’Age is worth a try.

Reviewed: June 2007 at the Rum Gallery, USA.

© Dave Russell 2017