Florent Beuchet, the man behind Compagnie des Indes, was a sport and stopped tasting from our delicous future purchases to answer a few questions. As he’s probably well known in the rum scene by now, let’s jump right in!
Florent, what was your motivation to start Compagnie des Indes?
After working in New York for almost two years, selling rums, I moved back to Europe in 2007. At that time, I realised that the European rum market was growing very quickly. In that matter I decided to educate the consumer toward rums which have the real taste of rum. My idea was to show consumer that the rum world can be various in term of aromas ones the producers do not all put the same flavouring in it.
Most of your rums are diluted to drinking strength and often times only selected countries (such as Denmark) get certain bottlings in cask strength. What is the reasoning behind this? Can other countries expect to get more cask strength bottlings in the future?
Part of my philosophy was to introduce most of regular customers into the world of real rum. Most customers are used to drink spirits at the strength of 40% alc. If I had started with rums only cask strength, a big part of the new consumers of rum would not had bared buying of even selling my rums. Some markets are more educated than others and that’s why I bottled cask strength rums for them. Also despite the fact that I would love to only bottle cask strength rum, there is an economical reality behind this. As you may know, alcohol duty are calculated depending on the strength of the rum. It means that the higher alcohol contents is, the higher taxes consumer will pay for the bottle.
You once said that your idea was to source and bottle rums from many different countries. As far as I know, you are the first independent rum bottler to release a rum/Arrack from Indonesia. Can we expect some rums from countries that we do not really have on our radar in the future?
With Compagnie Des Indes, my idea was to help the consumer to discover as many different rums as possible, from the widest range of origins. This was to stick to my idea of showcasing «terroir» rums. Hopefully you would be able to find in the next 2 to 3 years some new fun origins.
Do you actually taste from every barrel you buy yourself? Would you perhaps guide us through your decision process when buying a barrel?
The most fun part of my job is to taste those barrels and looking to find some liquid treasure. I have learned how to bottle rums not only I like, but which I know are of good quality and fit a pallet of some of my consumers.
Related to that, what is your approach in general? Do you actively look for specific barrels from certain distilleries and vintages or is it rather “you take what you can get”?
The rums trade has recently created some stress around the world of age rum. As a result, this is more difficult to get wide offer for all rum barrel. Suppliers are limiting the releases of such rums, to keep them for their own consumption.
The prices for rums from Guyana and Jamaica are going through the roof these days while other high-quality rums from some other countries (e.g. St Lucia or Fiji) are still relatively cheap. Is this just supply and demand at work or how do you explain this phenomenon?
I think it’s just a matter of the offer available in the market. I don’t really think rums from Jamaica and Guyana are more expensive than others rums from delicious producing countries; I think it’s just a matter of who has bottled the rums.
You once said in an interview that you are a fan of Jamaican rum yet you never bottled a rum from Monymusk? Are they so hard to find or do you simply do not like them too much?
I have already bottled quit a lot of rums from Jamaica that it just a matter of timing if I have not yet bottled a rum from Monymusk easted / Clarendon distillery.
You experiment a lot with uncommon finishes. How do you judge the success of these “experiments” and do you plan on doing more unorthodox finishes in the future?
So far, I have done two fun finishes which were Boulet de Canon (3 – SCR) and Oktoberum. I am now in the process of realizing time to time some more common finishes. This says it doesn’t mean that I am not going to realised some uncommon finishes in the future…
What is your favorite Compagnie des Indes bottling and which one are you most proud of?
My Jamaican Navy Strength 5 years old (57%) is the flavoured of my range of blend. This is actually the one I drink at home even though I have access to a huge variety of samples. I do believe that this rum is very well priced compare to the diversity of flavours that you can find in it.
Concerning the blend that I am the proudest of, it is Tricorne. It was very difficult on time consuming to reach the result I wanted to be for this white rum. In fact, it took me 17 different samples to reach what I wanted to achieve. A flavourful rum, and extremely aromatic white rum, with a diversity of flavours going from tropical fruits up to very well balanced spicy. Also, in order to reach those flavours, I had to blend the three differents style of rums from the world (Batavia Arrack, Cane Juice, Molasse).
Generally, how do you see the future of the rum business? Both, for you as a bottler and for us as consumers!?
I dream that the rum world would become more honest, that the pirates will soon die or at least be obligated to mention all the craps they put in their rums. Also, unfortunately, the stock of rums which decrease so quickly will result in an increase of the prices. That is why I cannot stress enough the fact for collectors like me to by rums nowadays while they still are very cheap.
Thanks a lot, Florent!