Agricole Blancs & Ti’ Punchs Part I

This is the first of a several sessions in which we cross-taste several agricole blancs and evaluate how they perform in a Ti’ Punch. At the end we will crown the winners from both categories (neat and mixed). My standard recipe for all Ti’ Punchs is about 4cl of rhum, the juice of a quarter (or less depending on size) of a lime and about a teaspoon of simple syrup.
By the way, for you and the sake of comparison, my buddies from Rumboom did exactly the same. As usual, I am a bit late to the party but better late than pregnant never, right!? My guess was that we will have as many different preferences and rankings as we do have tasters but apparently this has not been the case! All of the presented agricole blancs from session I-III come from bottle splits by Simon. Thanks for enabling this cross-tasting.

You can find can find an overview of all tasting sessions here:

Part I (Bielle, Damoiseau, Depaz, J.M., La Favorite, Neisson)
Part II (Bellevue, Bologne, Clément, HSE, Longueteau, Trois Rivières)
Part III (Charette, J. Bally, Karukera, La Mauny, Montebello, St. James)
Part IV (Final ranking and bonuses)


bielle_blanc (2)Bielle Blanc (Guadeloupe, 50%): Bielle has some of my favorite aged agricoles but I have yet to taste this blanc. It has an earthy profile. In the nose I have a few notes of salt, crystalized sugar and cauliflower. It smells slightly stale. The taste is closer to the Bielle I know with some spices. Cinnamon, anise and ginger are my notes here, hot peppers in the finish. The Ti’ Punch is leaning towards the spicy side and is in fact rather hot. Somehow this mixture doesn’t really convince me as it is not very harmonious. Earthy flavours and ginger dominate, which is not exactly what we want.

damoiseau (2)Damoiseau Blanc (Guadeloupe, 50%): Fresh and floral. Lime and sugarcane in the nose. Neat, this already smells like a Ti’ Punch. Later some earthy and mineral notes. The taste is slightly sweet, fresh, and a little sour. I get grass, cherries and limes. The Ti’ Punch is exactly what you’d expect. The lime and sugary notes of the rhum just cement themselves on the Ti’ Punch’s ingredients without adding much to it. Unfortunately, the cherries are too feint to provide an interesting twist. It’s very harmonious but also quite uninspiring.

depaz-blanc-55 (2)Depaz Blanc (Martinique, 50%): Aged rhums from Depaz are known for their subtle sweetness (I’ve reviewed two of them here) but I cannot find much of it in this blanc. In the nose a mix of pineapple, peppers and dried cheese (Parmesan). In the mouth plenty of the pineapple as well as a touch of sweet peaches and cherries. Most of the pineapple-like flavours transfer to the Ti’ Punch (ironically I’ve already done two arrangés with Depaz Blanc and pineapple), which is quite fruity and surprisingly much rounder than expected. It has many similarities with the Damoiseau but this particular profile is a bit more to my liking. Solid.

la-favorite-light-rum-coeur-de-canne-rhum-agricole (2)La Favorite Blanc Coeur de Canne (Martinique, 50%): I hope there’s no sugar in this one. Just kidding. I can sniff nail polish remover, a fruit basket and hay. It’s nothing special though, even though it might sound like it. At the palate we can find wood glue, dried fruits and anise. I really hope the other ingredients of the Ti’ Punch can enhance the rhum. Let’s see. Is this… ginger beer? Really, at first this is all I can think of. The transformation is crazy as there are no similar aromas to be found when drinking it neat. However, there is something else which is quite disturbing but I cannot quite pin it down. It’s like a wrong note in a piece of music. The piece itself might still be great but this misplayed or wrong tone more or less ruins the entire experience. This might make a good Dark & Stormy perhaps but it is not the Ti’ Punch I am looking for. Not my “Favorite”.

neisson_rhum_blanc_martinique (2)

Neisson Blanc (Martinique, 50%): I must say that I don’t really recognise Neisson but I like what I am sniffing. What I get is a mix of coconut and more earthy aromas. Then notes of citrus fruits. At the palate a mix of coconut and lime. This should be a good candidate for the Ti’ Punch. And it is indeed. Its profile is pretty standard but quality-wise it is upper class I’d say. There really isn’t anything bad to say about it, the combination works very well. The only agricole blanc of this tasting session that might be able to beat it should be the…

rhum-jm-blanc-agricole-50-70cl (2)J.M. Blanc (Martinique, 50%): Fresh and rich. Plenty of exotic fruits such as pineapple, mango and passion fruit in the nose. Very promising. Palate: Not quite as fruity as the nose but with several, layered, new elements. Banana, custard and peppercorns. A very unique spice mix lurks in the background. The Ti’ Punch has chilies, pineapple and mango. The ingredients do a good job at drawing attention to the rhum. Could this be today’s winner?


Verdict

Yes, the J.M. is definitely the winner of this tasting session. Dave Broom already wrote that it might be the best agricole blanc for the Ti’ Punch and me and my pals from Rumboom agree. At least so far as there will be a few more tasting sessions to come! The Neisson was a close second however. There’s no real loser anyways but I must say that the Bielle was a bit disappointing, mostly because I was expecting more/ something else. The Damoiseau and Depaz were both solid choices that I wouldn’t mind at all, only the La Favorite would not get a recommendation from me. A more elaborate ranking will follow in the final part.

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