It has been quite some time since we’ve done Clément. Now while I did have the occasional Clément every now and then, I don’t think I’ve ever reviewed them outside of a blind tasting. Let’s change that today. We do like Clément though, by the way! For some background info, let me refer you to the Martinique country page. And since we can, let’s have a ‘standard’ first.
Clément XO (42%): Some sources state that this is about 6 years old but I’ve learned not to trust the online shops (remember!?) Nose: Oh yeah. Right with the first nose we know that this is good. Apples, wood, autumn leaves, branches, spices such as cloves or allspice, hints of walnuts and vanilla from the cask and more woody, autumn-y vibes. Lovely! At the palate I find more of the spices (vanilla, allspice, cloves, cinnamon) at first, followed by oak, old apples, raisins, the smell of meadows, spring water and chestnut. It might not be an incredibly complex rum, but it is interesting enough, mellow, rich and comes with plenty of power, more so than you’d expect at 42%. The finish is medium long and contains some of the typical cask aromas such as wood, vanilla or chestnut. Easily one of the best “standards” out there I’d say. An imense upgrade from their VSOP (not reviewed yet). (86/100)
actually I’ve found another one…
Clément 10YO (42%): Here we have a very rich and intense nose, and that at only 42%. Wood and chestnut seem to be the obvious notes here but I can also find some indeterminate fruity notes (close to quince or apples), wood glue, very mild and faint incense cone, hints of fir and spices such as cloves or cinnamon. The palate is quite as dry with many of typical cask aromas such as spices (cloves, cinnamon, anise) and wood (cedar with its slightly smoky notes), impressions of BBQ, ginger, mocha and cocoa. Yep, it’s really dry and I was kinda hoping for more from what we’ve had in the nose. While it is a good one, I am quite sure that it has crossed its zenith. There’s no reason to age the spirit this long (outside of some of the excellent single cask!) I must say. Finish: Medium long with wood, spices and ginger. Yeah… as I said, it is a bit too old for my liking and much of the distillate has been lost. That still makes it a good rhum in my book but Clément’s strengths lay elsewhere. (83/100)
Well, that was already really good. Now on to the more exciting stuff (at least on paper).
Clément Rare Cask “Lion’s Choice” 2014 VSOP “Sassicaia Finish” (44,8%): Nose: This is the weird middle ground between juvenile and mature. I get estragon and many spices (vanilla, cumin). Moreover I find jasmine and other floral notes, fresh soil, summer rain and chestnuts. The aroma pallet is really wide here and while I love all of the ingredients by themselves, it all doesn’t really add up somehow. Palate: Very vegetal again, with something close to cauliflower or chicory. I think I know what’s wrong: It is indeed this ‘weird’ level of maturity that I also know from other, comparable agricoles. It just doesn’t suit my palate… Or is it the finish after all? I am not too sure anymore. Now more (foul) vegetal notes, fresh soil, a rather unusual mix of herbs, chestnut and grains perhaps. Way less complex than the nose and frankly, not too great. Finish: Relatively long actually, with the vegetal notes, herbs and wood. This is a pass for me, in what is otherwise a very good session. (76/100)
Clément Rare Cask “Coup de Foudre” 2002 16YO (55,2%): We’re moving on to woodier territories. Like a lot woodier. Nose: A completely different level of intensity. Very grown-up and balanced and it seems that this is the ultimate essence of Clément. Foul apples and old, sucked out vanilla beans, tonka, cold brew, chestnut, apple chips, wood and wood glue, freshly cut bark and moss are my main associations. This is all quite wild but somehow adds up and isn’t even half as weird as it sounds. Quite the contrary; the rhum is is very elegant! Palate: Quite bitter and rich, with lots of wood and a decent adstringency. Not entirely different from old Armagnacs if you want. Dry grapes, mokka, tonka, mellow ale, more wood, chestnut, quite a wide range of different bitter notes (cocoa, mokka, Angostura bitters), pepper and piment is what I can name here. Really good. Finish: Quite long with tannins, pomace, wood and chestnut. Perhaps a tad too bitter for me though. I know a few people who really love it. For me it is ‘only’ very good and a bit over it zenith. The cask was incredibly active and I would have prefer a smaller impact. (87/100)
Clément Rare Cask “Robert Peronet” 2000 16YO (55,3%): A dirtier version of the”Coup de Foudre”. Nose: At first I get foul apples and apple chips, wood, hints of glue, minced meat, some vanilla and pomace but then there’s an entirely different side to this rhum with gasoline, lamp oil and burnt rubber. A Caroni-esque Agricole if you want. This is just awesome! I hope the palate holds more of this for us. And indeed, after the initial caramel and vanilla combination I get lots of wood and tannins and now also lamp oil, construction works with hints of tar and an exceedingly bitter structure. Nevertheless, this is really, really nice. Finish: Long with wood, bitters, chestnut and a very high adstringency. Wow, definitely the best of the rare casks I’ve had so far and a very interesting addition to the “standard” Clément profie and portfolio. (90/100)