This is part two of our great Agricole Blanc & Ti’ Punch cross-tasting. You can refer to the other 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)
HSE Blanc (Martinique, 50%): I’ve had plenty of aged HSE’s before, some good and some bad. Let’s try their Blanc. It takes a while until the rhum fully penetrates your nostrils. Floral and vegetal at the same time. Freshly plucked flowers, lime and minty toothpaste are my first impressions in the nose. The alcohol is quite strong now. Taking a sip, the rhum’s profile is now way more earthy. The lime is joint by oranges and canned mandarins. I think I can get used to it. The Ti’ Punch is only okay-ish however. I am not sure but I’d say it has a pronounced lychee note. Of course you can never go wrong with a Ti’ Punch but I definitely prefer this rhum neat. We’ve had better mixers in our last session.
Bellevue Blanc (Guadeloupe, 50%): Let’s take a detour to Marie- Galante. The nose is quite laid-back with “Wick Blau” drops, citrus fruits and slightly vegetal notes. At the palate we have a very pleasant and mild agricole blanc that doesn’t really impose itself. This should make the Bellevue Blanc either a perfect candidate for the Ti’ Punch or one that doesn’t work at all. Let’s see. By the way, I can also find flavours of coconut and liquorice. Quite to my surprise, the Ti’ Punch is pretty much “standard”. I would never turn this down, but the rhum is lacking this certain flavour which would really make the Ti’ Punch great. It doesn’t do anything wrong, which is a good thing I must say, but it also doesn’t enhance the drink quite like a top tier agricole blanc should.
Bologne Blanc (Guadeloupe, 50%): I’ve already tried the Bologne Black Cane Blanc in a blind tasting. It was a very interesting rhum and I think there are a few parallels here. It’s very floral with daisies and sweet berries, mostly raspberries. I’d say this is more or less the opposite of a grassy agricole. All in all quite balanced. The Ti’ Punch is very exotic. The raspberries are quite prominent and are now accompanied by sweet almonds. This is a nice combination if you are looking for something different. It’s not perfect but after having plenty of Ti’ Punchs now this is a very welcome addition to the more typical mixes.
Trois Rivières Blanc (Martinique, 50%): I’ve no idea what I have been doing the last couple of month but apparently I’ve failed at reviewing a Trois Rivières so far. Please let me tell you at this point that I loved the 20001 Single Cask. The Blanc is relatively dry in the nose. Usually I’d say it needs more time but I am not sure whether that helps a lot with Blancs. My associations are fresh bread, grain and hay. Rather guadeloupish I must say. The taste is a bit fruitier but again, grain and hay are my initial thoughts. It’s not bad at all, but if you can have the “original” why not simply take that? Fortunately, the Ti’ Punch is more interesting. This is a combination that works quite well, unlike the Bielle Blanc for example which had a somewhat similar profile. The ingredients definitely enhanced the rhum.
Longueteau Blanc (Guadeloupe, 50%): After watching the documentary “Rum auf Guadeloupe” on the French/ German channel Arte I just had to dig deeper into this very charismatic family business. Their Blanc is new territory for me. Speaking of territory, Longueteau released a set of Blancs whose only difference is the location of the used sugar cane. Thomas blindly reviewed them here. The nose is very refreshing with citrus, freshly squeezed cane juice and just a touch of brine. The palate is more complex. I get notes of olives, spices, chillies and parsley. I like it. The Ti’ Punch is very balanced and harmonious. The rhum adds elements of chillies, parsley and ginger to the drink, which works quite well. A very good fit!
Clément Blanc (Martinique, 50%): I immediately recognise an odd feature in this one but I cannot quite name it. Anyways, I am not the biggest fan of Clément in general I must admit. Their Canne Bleue usually are the nuts in a Ti’ Punch but I haven’t tried the ‘standard’ Blanc yet. Unripe raspberries, poultry-like aromas and fresh citrus fruits are my associations. The palate is definitely better and I get the meaty structure once more. Earthy and especially mineral flavours round it off. Unfortunately the Ti’ Punch is also very mineral and not really to my liking either. I can certainly understand why someone else might be into this but it’s just not what I am looking for personally.
A few pleasant surprises and only one real disappointment. I wouldn’t put any of these Blancs in the same category as the J.M. or Neisson from last session, with the exception of the Longueteau perhaps, which was really good. I’d like to pick out two rhums here, the Bellevue and the Trois Rivières. Neat, the Bellevue is a real pleasure but it didn’t really work very well in the Ti’ Punch. The opposite is the case for the Trois Rivières. The Bologne produces a very memorable Ti’ Punch; not necessarily the greatest but a quite distinct and pleasant one. The HSE is average across all disciplines and only the Clément was not to my liking this time.