In Mauritius, the production of agricole style rhum was prohibited until 2006 and only small quantities of traditional, molasses based rum have been produced. The end of the prohibition has then launched new companies and let to the transformation of existing players. St. Aubin, who have primarily been producing sugar, tea and traditional rum, have diversified to producing pot still agricole style rhum for example. While they have a very wide range of products, including spiced and flavoured pot still (!) rhums, we shall have a look at some of their “true” expressions today. They only distill from freshly pressed cane juice by the way.
St. Aubin Blanc (50%): These Blancs can fill the entire spectrum between undrinkable and amazing and they demonstrate distillation skills more than anything else. Crucially, this has been distilled in a pot still and only the hearts, the ‘coeur de chauffe’ are used. Nose: Fresh, fruity and rather standard. Minimal amounts of nail polish, fresh sugar cane, lime and other citrus fruits and a certain sharpness deeper in the glass. At the palate we encounter a well-balanced, mild and rather aromatic distillate. Some earthy notes here and there, green banana, fresh soil and now very clearly coconut. The finish is short with meaty coconut and sounds earthy notes. The distillery was never really on my radar, mostly because of some weird, spiced products and infusions (see above) but this is quite good. I didn’t think I’d find such a Blanc outside of Martinique and Guadeloupe, to be honest. (82/100)
Saint Aubin Gold (40%): Whatever Gold is supposed to mean… Anyway, the “Gold” and “Black” are both column still rums. Nose: Rather sweetish with plenty of apples, applesauce and warm apple pie. It smells a bit perfumed but that isn’t a huge deal. Now hints of raisins and vanilla, supporting the apple pie character. Palate: Really mellow and slightly watery. It’s much spicier than the nose suggests with additional notes of cinnamon, cloves and of course all the apple aromas again. All of this is very straightforward and simple, never bad, but nothing that you will keep getting back to if you have some more experience with rums. I guess this is intended to belong to the mixing category. The finish is medium long with rich apples, vanilla, and some wood. They call it “Gold”, I don’t. (70/100)
Saint Aubin Black (40%): Black means coloured of course, but I don’t know much more about the actual ageing. Even though I have a hard time describing this with many other words than the “Gold”, it is actually quite a bit different. Sure, the different apple components are very prominent but we have both, a fresher and a ‘dirtier’ component on top of that. The fresh one resembles pears and mint while I associate the dirty one with burnt wood/ charcoal and licorice. I am liking this a lot more already. Here and there also a few spices and even glue-like notes. Quite interesting. The palate is again a bit too watery but other than that not too bad. Quite sweet with dark sugar, sweet lemon juice, passion fruit and floral notes. Then the full dose of apples again. Yup, that works for me, but I’d prefer a higher abv. The finish is medium long with wood, walnuts and cola(!). A really cool one, just way too thin and watery. (76/100)
Let’s move on to the stuff that seems to be more interesting on paper. Both subsequent rums are blends of pot and column still distillates.
Saint Aubin History Collection “Mauritius” 2004 (40%): There’s no doubt that this is older juice than the previous ones but I am not quite sure if I like that. The first scents out of my tasting glass are rather woody and bitter but I believe to find the apparently typical apples again. This might be old Calvados. Then chestnut, more Brandy-esque notes (grapes, pomace), dried Cola leafs, walnuts, tannins and muscovado sugar. The palate is basically like a less fruity, drier version of the “Black”, with walnuts, chestnuts, raw wood, apples, cinnamon, Calvados, multi-grain bread and more and more chestnuts with every additional sip. The finish follow along these lines, is medium long, slightly boozy but doesn’t offer any interesting additional notes. This one was interesting, even if it did not convince me entirely. There has to be something that can beat the very good Blanc, no!? (78/100)
Saint Aubin History Collection “Isle de France” 2005 (40%): The follow up bottling to the “Mauritius” I guess. Nose: Again very Bally-esque with this super obvious apple note and a lot more aromatic than the 2004. I’d describe them as floury and slowly starting to rot. Then a cinnamon/ sugar mix, wood (ex-Cognac or Armagnac like), pomace and dried cherries. Really good. Palate: So the cherries were for real. Canned cherries, applesauce, pomace (almost Grappa-like), cinnamon, wood and autumn leaves are my main impressions. This is very simple, but also rather pleasant. The finish comes again with more of the same, mostly wood, rotting apples and pomace. Oh yeah, that one was not too bad at all. (81/100)
Solid rhums and definitely a distillery to watch out for. For the moment, I will stick to their Blanc. The pot still has done it again. For the future, I am hoping for some true aged pot still agricole style rums, preferably at full proof of course.