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Rhum Barbancourt Reserve 15 year old Rum (700ml)
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- ABV 43%
- Closure: Screw Cap
The original definition of Rhum Agricole was of a rum fermented and distilled from pure sugar cane juice. That changed in 1996 when an AOC (Appellation d’Origine Controlee, which translates as "controlled designation of origin") was given to the French island of Martinique. The AOC system is used to maintain the quality of agricultural products via specific guidelines relating to terroir and production. This move was the catalyst for quarrelsome debate between rum lovers around the world. The AOC declares that fermented and distilled sugar cane produced outside the appellation may not adopt the ‘Argicole’ classification, and implies those within the AOC are in some way inherently superior.
There is one consistent challenge to the merits of the AOC system as applied to Rhums Agricole - Rhum Babancourt of Haiti.
Established by Dupre Barbancourt in 1862, Barbancourt is produced from pure sugar cane juice and double distilled in a manner similar to that of Cognac. It is often rated as superior to AOC Rhums Agricole by enthusiasts and critics the world over, without the price premium the AOC seems to attract. The debate also questions the effect of terroir on rum in general, which in comparison to products like wine, seems inconsequential. It is argued more influential factors should be taken into account such as the design of the still being used, the point at which the spirit comes off the still, or subsequent oak treatment. With Barbancourt, primary distillation comes off at roughly 70% by volume and secondary 90% by volume. The spirit is then cut to 50% before it is matured in 100% French Limousine oak (as is the finest Cognac) for varying periods depending on the bottling in question - fifteen years in this case.