Domaine de Séverin

We are entering completely new territory today with Domaine de Séverin. Its history starts in the 18th century with the sugar plantation “Habitation Bellevue”, which seems to be a very common name for estates with nice views in the French Antilles. Around 1800, Monsieur Séverin acquires the Domaine which then became a pineapple cannery. Fast forward to 1920. Madame Beauvarlet buys the estate and her nephew Henri Marsolle revives rhum distillation and eventually takes over the distillery. Today, it is still operated by his descendants and is home to the last remaining paddle wheel in the Antilles, even though it doesn’t crush the cane anymore. Being a small family owned distillery, Domaine de Séverin struggled financially, which forced them to sell the majority (65%) of their shares to an external investor. At Séverin, fermentations last for two whole days while distillation takes place in a single column still.

Domaine de Séverin 6YO (~2006/2012, 40%): As this is our first encounter with the distillery, I really do not know what to expect. Nose: Quite pale and relatively flat with quince, citrus and pear. It seems to be a really light distillate and the cask probably didn’t add much. Deeper in the glass we can find more grassy notes (freshly cut, hay, etc.), some wood and spices notes but I hope that the palate will be more illuminating. Palate: Again quite grassy and spicy (pepper!) but now also with more mellow notes such as vanilla or sweet cherries. Well, actually the latter were only a short intermezzo as we quickly move back to dry and spicy. You really only get the sweet and fruity notes at the very beginning of a sip. After a second or so, pepper, nutmeg, cloves and oranges take over. Finish: Relatively short with grass, hay, pepper and wood. A very average cane juice Rhum, at best. But please note that this isn’t because this Rhum is particularly bad, much rather because the bar is set rather high within this category. Most crucially, it doesn’t have much to it that would make it stick out in any way. (77/100)

Domaine de Séverin 1986 (45%): This comes from a 1l bottle. Nose: Quite boozy (ever so slightly) but not very intense. All in all, this is a bit more on the vegetal side of things as notes of grass and fresh vegetables (paprika, leek) clearly dominate. The Rhum seems to be quite young and, unfortunately, another representation of why old often times doesn’t mean better. Here and there we get some vanilla and honey but that’s about it. Palate: Pretty much what you’d expect, even though there’s more oak and vanilla than the nose suggested. Flavourwise, there isn’t anything worth pointing out. Some might call this balanced, for me it is rather boring. There’s also this disturbing, slightly spicy and sharp note that really bothers me. Not too great, my friends. Finish: Short with wood, honey and this sharp notes I mentioned earlier. Nope, this is not where you should start your journey with the distillery. (67/100)