Trois Rivieres Cask Strength Millésime 2006

Trois Rivieres 2006 Cask Strength 55.5%-RG1

Product of:  Martinique
Aged:  8 Years
Price: €37 ($45) per 50cl, purchased at Trois Rivieres boutique on Martinique
Alcohol: 55.5% ABV
Sugar: 0 g/L
Context: Rhum Vieux Agricole
RG Rating:  9.5

Tasting Notes
Trois Rivieres Cask Strength 2006 Vintage shows an attractive reddish shade of gold, like polished bronze in my tasting glass. Several legs form from swirling and take their sweet time to drip back to the bowl leaving behind a crown of beads at the top of the swirl trace.  There’s nothing hurried about this rhum.

A bouquet fresh scent of sweet oaken vanilla filled the air soon after the natural cork stopper is pulled, then you sense the relatively high alcohol content, helping to spread the attractive scent.  Sniffing reveals deeper aromas of wood, coconut, nutmeg spice and heavy flour pastry.  It’s a winning combination. 

On the nose, Trois Rivieres 2006 Cask Strength rhum vieux reminds me of an aged Bajan beauty crossed with an earthy agricole, but in the mouth the rhum proudly declares its full Martinique lineage.  An small initial taste immediately brings aged agricole flavors to your attention, delivering well developed oak, vegetal notes like fresh sugarcane and anise, with softer cocoa, caramel, clove and nutmeg spices rounding out the presentation.  The high alcohol gives the body a medium weight and is not a bother.  Rather, it seems to transport delicious flavors across the palate more quickly, without any rough edges, and accelerate the finish, as you should expect.

Anecdotes
Trois Rivieres introduced an exciting overhaul of their extensive portfolio of aged rhums in late 2014.  The Cask Strength 2006 Vintage at 55.5% ABV is one of those newly released old rhums in the re-invigorated Trois Rivieres.  The rum is incredible.  And the packaging has been thoroughly modernized as well.  A bolder font introduces you to one of your old friends. The new slender bottle with the raised collar banding the neck is proudly embossed with “1660“, the date when the Trois Rivieres plantation was established.  I find the new bottles easier to handle, and the new vintage expressions a welcome addition to one of Martinique’s more traditional marques - there’s more to come to the Rum Gallery.

While Trois Rivieres depends on mother nature to deliver an exceptional harvest year, all of their rhums - Vintage declared or not – use a single type of sugarcane.  About a third of their cane is grown on its estate in the southern part of Martinique.  

Trois Rivieres Boutique and Windmill Lrg-RG1

About 2/3 of the sugarcane is harvested by hand, not tractor, and none of sugarcane fields on Trois Rivieres’ estate are burned prior to harvesting.  The crushed cane yields a sweet vesou.  Distillation occurs a couple days after harvest - the time required for fermenting.  Fermentation is started by adding baker’s yeast to the vesou in the few stainless steel “starter tanks”  of approximately 15,000 liters. In turn, that active brew is quickly transferred to the fourteen larger stainless steel “mother tanks” of 33,000 liter capacity.  Fermentation usually continues for 24-48 hours, producing a vinasse of about 5% alcohol by volume.  The vinasse is distilled in Trois Rivieres’ copper column still to an ABV of between 65%-70% per AOC regulations.  Trois Rivieres’ column still was moved from their plantation to the La Mauny distillery at Rivière Pilote in 2004, where it continues to produce fine rhums today.

Regarding the age of this rhum; 2006 indicates the date of harvest, and more specifically the date of distillation (according to AOC regulations).  After resting for a while to allow the raw distilled spirit to regain equilibrium and balance, it was placed in new oak barrels for aging on the fourth of August, 2006.  After maturing for exactly eight years, the finished rum was removed from barrel number L23 and bottled at 55.5% ABV cask strength on the sixth of August, 2014.

Trois Rivieres column still stands proud at La Mauny distillery

The Trois Rivieres plantation and rhum producing facility has travailed a serpentine path over the past 350 years.  The plantation was founded in 1660 by Nicolas Fouquet, Superintendent of Finances under Louis XIV. who awarded the 2,000 hectare plot to himself.  By the 18th Century, the property changed ownership several times and three sugar refineries were established on the plantation.  An impressive windmill and other restored buildings from the sugar production years are part of the visitor’s tour today.  Rhum production began late in the 18th Century.  Following the collapse of the Caribbean sugar economy in the 19th Century, rum became the only product at Trois Rivieres by the early 20th Century.  The rhums were bottled under the Duquesne marque until 1972.  By 1994 the owners of La Mauny acquired the Trois Rivieres marque and estate.  AOC certification was granted in 1996.  Trois Rivieres’ column still was moved further inland to the La Mauny distillery in Riviere Pilote during 2004, where production continues today.  To learn more about Trois Rivieres, click here: PlantationRivieres.com

Many great choices to sample at Trois Rivieres' visitor center.

Opinion
I love it when the high expectations set for a rhum are over-delivered during the very first taste.  Trois Rivieres Cask Strength 2006 Vintage is that good.  Don’t be put off by the big alcohol numbers of this Cask Strength Vintage rhum; it is wonderfully approachable. While I prefer the unapologetic pleasure of sipping it neat, adding a few drops of water to dilute the rhum down near 35-40% ABV renders it more supple without diminishing the flavors.  Dare I say it works magic in a classic Mai Tai?

Reviewed:  December 2014 at Trois Rivieres visitor center on Martinique, and later that month at the Rum Gallery, USA.

© Dave Russell 2017