We didn’t feature Karukera so far, which is distilled at Esperance, who also produce Longueteau. Now I wasn’t too impressed with the last set of Longuetues (they were solid rhums, mind you!) some time ago but my understanding is that rhums released under the Karukera label are a bit more “selective”. So let’s see if they leave a different impression with me.
Karukera Vieux VO (42%): This one should be at least three years old. Nose: Floral and quite aromatic. Besides a fresh bouquet I get some vague spices (something along the lines of pepper and cloves), ripe apples as well as slightly dirty reminiscent of a gas station. Guadeloupean juice based rhum as it should be. Palate: The texture is rather creamy, especially for 42%. I get pepper, nutmeg and other spices, follwed by brandy-esque flavours, earthy notes (potatoes) and again some of the “dirtier” nuances. The apples are now almost starting to rot and for some reason I get autumn vibes. Finish: Sufficiently long and strong on the spices. Good and more or less at the same level as the recent Longueteaus. (80/100)
Karukera Vieux Reserve Special (42%): This rhum consists of at least five year old rhums. Its nose is incredibly similar to the standard VO but it is ever so slightly fuller, more balanced and perhaps a tad “dirtier”. The earthy and gas station notes are a minimally more present, as is the wood, while the fruity aspects move a bit further into the background. Instead we get some more spices from the cask, which was to be expected given the higher age. The similarities continue at the palate but here they aren’t quite as strong. The rhum is a lot smoother than the VO. The spices dominate the profile and we get a lot of wood and a few minimally bitter notes. A mix of pears and quince as well different grains and fresh soil are further flavours I am picking up. Even though the rhum aged in former Bourbon barrels I do get some Cognac-like notes – I’ve no idea where these are coming from. The finish is medium long with spices, a continental fruit basket, grassy notes and oak. This is at least a step above the VO. (82/100)
Karukera Double Maturation 2004 (45,2%): The rhum of this single cask was bottled in 2012 and should be eight years old. Double maturation here means maturation in ex-Bourbon and Cognac casks. Nose: The double maturation makes its presence felt as the rhum has more facets to it than the previous ones. I even get some glue as well as quality Cognac/ Armagnac-like notes. All in all, the profile is still shaped by the spices though and I most notably get pepper, nutmeg and cloves. Then pears and notes which remind me of pastry, something I regularly get with certain Armagnacs. While it has clearly the best nose of the session, the palate isn’t quite as harmonious. This might actually be closer to some Armagnacs than to rhum agricole. That isn’t bad, quite the contrary, but it is a weird mix. Pastry, lots of wood (french oak), the spices from the nose, wood glue and dark grapes is what I am picking up. The finish continues along these lines, is rather long and comes with plenty of wood, branches and Armagnac. I like this quite a bit but a bit more distillate and less barrel might have worked wonders here. (83/100)
Karukera 1999 (45%): I cannot help it but I always get more excited about these vintages bottlings than about the standards, no matter how good they might be. Nose: Floral and intense yet a bit thinner than the double matured 2004. As we are used to by now, pepper and nutmeg are the dominant notes here. On top of that I get wood, tobacco, cinnamon, Parmesan and Naan bread. It’s okay but I was hoping for more. Palate: Rather smooth, delicate but also not incredibly complex. The profile is rather nutty (cashew, walnuts, peanuts) and minimally bitter, with the familiar set of spices, olives, dry tobacco, salt, plenty of wood, cocoa and slightly tannic elements. Again, I am a bit disappointed for some reason, even though I shouldn’t be. After all this is still quite tasty. The finish is medium long with oak, spices and olives. You probably noticed that I did have my difficulties with this one, even though the rhum’s quality is out of question. I strongly recommend to make your own judgement! (82/100)