When I told a friend of mine from Barbados that I was tasting rums from Martinique and Saint Lucia, her face lit up. Now Barbados has a nice little rum of its own, but she said, “Oh, Martinique! I love their rums!”
And as an island girl, she should know. In fact, I thought I knew a bit about rum (see my previous posting here), but tasting seven spirits from Spiribam made me realize how much I don’t know. The company sells rhum (French spelling) from Martinique, Guadeloupe, Marie Galante, Haiti, French Guyana, Reunion and Mauritius.
Fellow food and drink writers joined Ben Jones, managing director N.A. of Spiribam, and Kiowa Bryan, national brand manager in tasting rums that ranged from a bracing Rhum J.M. Agricole Blanc ($32.99) to a sweet, orange Clement Creole Shrubb ($32.99) that can send you to a delicious dreamland. We were all sent small samples of the drinks discussed.
We started with the Blanc rum, and a petite punch that is served all day long on Martinique. “This is part of everyday life,” said Jones. Mixed with lime and sugar, the three-ingredient drink is sweet and sublime enough to creep up slowly on your tongue with its fresh pressed, distilled sugarcane juice base.
From there, we sipped Rhum Clement VSOP ($39.99), which is aged 4 years and was called the “first ambassador of Martinique” with the distillery being the most visited attraction on the island. This was the start of some spice in our tastings, with the nose being faintly spicy and tasting buttery. It’s good for an Old-Fashioned, said Jones, in place of sugar.
On to the Clement XO ($54.99), aged 6 years with a light nose of island breezes, and a smooth palate that’s fairly spicy and very good. Bryan suggested a good cheese pairing with this would be Parmesan, to add salt.
Then Chairman’s Reserve Original, from Saint Lucia ($27.99), which is a blend and tasted of butterscotch and smoke. This is a molasses rum, with no sugar added. After this was the Chairman’s Reserve Spiced ($27.99), and cinnamon was strong on the nose and palate and very agreeable. Along with cinnamon was coconut, honey and cloves.
The Clement Creole Shrubb was developed with sugar to preserve fruit, in this case oranges. It’s a light, clear, beautiful orange nose and taste – and would be great in a margarita or on its own over ice.
Finishing was Clement Mahina Coco ($24.99), which sprung up from the glass with a clean coconut nose and taste. A suggestion was made to add this to an Aperol Spritz, and I’m intending to do that soon. It’s another light liqueur that would be great to drink or put into baking.
Most of these are available at either Total Wine or ABC Liquor Fine Wines & Spirits.
Here’s a Mai Tai recipe that uses a few of the above spirits. Happy island drinking!
Mai Tai Recipe
1 oz. Aged Rhum Agricole (Clement VSOP)
1 oz Chairman’s Reserve
1 oz. French lime juice
.75 oz. Clement Liqueur D’Orange (the Shrubb)
.75 oz. orgeat (almond syrup)
Shake with pebble ice, if available, and pour into glass. Top with more ice and garnish with mint and nutmeg, if desired.
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