Another first today with a pair from Bologne. Given how long we’ve been doing this already, I am always amazed how much there is yet to discover. At least on “official grounds”, i.e. in the form of tastings notes.
Established in 1887, Bologne is very proud of its terroir, an area of nearly 150 hectares between the sea and a mountain. On their sixty parcels of the Capesterre and Saint-Claude plantations, they are the only distillery on Guadeloupe to grow black cane, which goes into all of Bologne’s rhums. Black cane is highly aromatic but has a very low yield, which is why most other distilleries dropped it from their plantations. Distillation is also special in the sense that Bologne only distills up to 55-60% abv. The reason for this is that this method extracts fewer of the grassy cane aromas. What is more, all aged rhum matures in ex- Cognac or Armagnac barrels, which enrich it with plenty of fruity and spicy notes. I am really thrilled to find out how all of this translates to the actual rhum!
Bologne Black Cane (50%): Eric from Rumboom once gave me this in a blind tasting and I thought it was rather good. How about today? In the nose I find earthy notes, a field of flowers, some alcohol, brush cleaner and sweet berries (raspberry, red currant). In between always some daisies here and there. A rather clean and mild Guadeloupian Agricole Blanc. The palate never really feels like 50%. The rhum is extremely mellow and balanced out quite well with the flower meadow and a little bit of grass but not a whole lot more. As I said, it is incredibly clean and while I cannot come up with many associations it is still sufficiently flavourful. The finish is short and slightly sharp (chili flakes, pepper) with some brush cleaner. A well-made rhum that is just a bit too clean for my liking but it is always great to have access to these rather raw distillates, am I right my Whisky friends!? Anyway, I was expecting a bit more from this pure black cane rhum. RTN (78/100)
Bologne XO (42%): The nose is rather heavy, shy and initially doesn’t want to reveal all too much. I think this fella might need some time. After a while I get a mix of spices such as Szechuan pepper, nutmeg and cloves as well as something close to huckleyberry and plum. Then Shitake mushrooms, wood and sesame oil. On the one hand this is quite an uncommon profile, on the other hand, I don’t think I would easily detect this in a blind tasting. It is just still too shy and smells almost fragile, despite the heavy overal profile. Strange… Palate: Once again I get quite a few notes that I associate with the Japanese cuisine: Shitake, sesame, morels, miso, different peppers and woods, the spices from the nose but none of the fruity nuances. As stupid as it sounds but I can indeed imagine some nice food pairings with this. Oyster, walnut, almond and more fungus round it off. The finish is medium long with mushrooms, wood and spices. Here and there a nut pops up. What do we make out of this? The rhum has the potential to be brilliant but for some reason it just isn’t. It is clearly not the abv but I am not sure what it is. Perhaps a little less influence of the cask!? Who knows. RTN (82/100)