Admittedly, our headlines aren’t the most creative these days but what shall we do if we don’t just want to label everything “vertical xy”. We didn’t have a lot of Bielles on here so far except for their Blanc and a 6YO from 2010 that has been bottled for LMDW’s 60th anniversary. Today we are about to change that and let’s start with an official bottling.
Bielle Rhum Ambre 3YO (50%): One of the few Bielles you can get at a very good price, if you are lucky. Nose: Quite vegetal and earthy. Behind corn, cereal and slightly grassy notes I can find freshly cut vegetables (mostly cauliflower, mushrooms and soy), soil-like notes and hashed herbs. It doesn’t feel incredibly complex but there are quite some layers to be found here actually. The vegetal profile continues at the palate and especially the mushrooms shine now. The cereals are almost gone entirely and the herbs come a bit further to the fore. Then a mix of unripe fruits, coconut water and again more earthy notes of dug over soil and torn out plants. Finish: Rather short with mowed grass and composted vegetable plants. Well, it’s an okayish rhum but it has this weird maturity that fails to position itself definitely. (77/100)
Velier Marie Galante Vieux 2003 9YO (49%): I believe Velier released three Bielles from 2003, a 7YO and this 9YO. I am not exactly sure what the third one is though. In total, Velier apparently acquired 6000 barrels of the 2003 vintage and this rhum consists of the last remaining barrels from that stock. It should have aged entirely on Marie-Galante. Aspect: Chestnut/ oloroso sherry. Thick pearls and streaks that slowly flow back down. Nose: A hint of glue, apples and plenty of spices (mostly cloves, cinnamon and english curry mix!). I’ve had quite a few associations but now everything seems to be covered by the curry powder. It’s not bad at all. Then more vegetal notes, oak and byriani perhaps. The palate is pretty much an extension of the nose. I get apples, spices (vanilla and cinnamon), different sort of vegetables as well as a hint of nuts and wood, all dominantly covered in curry powder however. It’s quite interesting and I am wondering if this note comes from the distillate or the barrel. Either way, the abv and maturity are spot on here I think. Finish: Medium long with curry and Christmas vibes (from the typical spices). I don’t want to give a definite judgement here since the rhum is rather special. You really have to be into this curry note. Personally I think it’s great but I can also see why some others might not like it. (87/100)
then there’s a pair of 2008s…
Cavavin Bielle 2008 9YO (54,8%): The nose changes quite a lot within the first couple of minutes. At first I had hay and tangerine but that quickly changed to litchi, straw and spices such as cumin, pepper and coves. Similarly, the alcoholic vapours diminish over time and reveal quite some wood. The palate is way drier and less fruity than the nose and I can only find the litchi deep in the background. The hay/ straw and spice combination is more dominant now and I would add cinnamon, tannins, cut branches and nutmeg now. It’s clearly Bielle but drier and more woody than we’re used to. The finish is long and even a bit too bitter for my liking. I don’t mind bitter finishes but here it doesn’t really suit the rum if you ask me. I do like edgy expressions but this rum could be more balanced for my liking. It’s solid but really lacking in some crucial aroma groups. (80/100)
Cave Guildive Bielle 2008 9YO (55%): I guess that this is cask strength as well. It’s more alcoholic than the Cavavin and doesn’t really want to open up. Rather flat and musty. Moss, tobacco, spices and even after quite some time still a lot of alcohol. Maybe the palate can tell us more. Here we get cereal, straw, spices (cumin, pepper, cinnamon), almost neutral grain spirit and some oak. Nah, that doesn’t work for me. Finish: (Too) long without many flavourful notes. Spiced oak and straw is what I can name here. I was a bit disappointed by the Cavavin but this one cannot keep up with it at all. (72/100)
Rumclub Bielle 2010 8YO (54,1%): The nose is relatively heavy on spices and cereal, but also clearly includes notes of tobacco, caramel and hints of sulphate. It’s rather unusual I’d say. After some more time I get earthy notes, more of the spices (cloves, cinnamon) and cereal as well as a whiff of tangerine and fresh grass. The palate is even heavier on the spices (vanilla, nutmeg, pepper), even though I don’t find much of the cloves anymore. Then distinct grassy notes, continental fruits, fresh leaves, hints of cherries and again the tobacco. The alcohol is integrated adequately (to introduce a new term) but the mouthfeel is a bit watery, even though we are clearly having a very heavy agricole in the glass. Blindly I would probably have called this a VSOP in terms of maturity, which is not a bad thing, but also not what we expect from an 8YO agricole. The finish is slightly bitter but definitely not as bitter as we’d expect from a rhum of this age. It comes with dried grapes (aka raisins), dates and figs. A lovely way to round it off. In fact, the finish is quite awesome. All in all its a nice rhum that doesn’t demand your attention but that may surprise you with interesting facets of you do give it some attention. (84/100)
Bielle 2001 14YO SC #63 (52,4%): In 2015, Bielle released a bunch of (very pricy) single cask bottlings. Their quality is unquestioned but because of the high price tag some of them are still available today. This particular cask resulted in 62 bottles, which would mean an annual angel’s share of about 11% (~80% total). Nose: High quality bubble gum, good, deep and rich red wine (dark cherries, brambleberries), a mix of dark and very ripe fruits in general, an amazing balance of herbal notes and spices and just the right support from the cask. The nose is so full, intense and just lovely as we rarely have it with these old single cask agricoles. The first thing I notice at the palate are the bitter, tannic notes. Old grapes, branches, brambleberries, bales of straw and raw cherries. The herbs (a wild, foresty mix) are stronger than the spices (cloves, nutmeg) now but play a subordinate role here. Unfortunately the palate cannot keep up with the nose, otherwise we might have had a rum for the ages. Finish: Long and complex with woody, dry and adstringent elements such as dark coffee or cocoa. The nose was perfect (really!), the palate falls off a bit. Nevertheless we have to reach for a high mark here. Especially the dark, rich fruits did it for me. (92/100)