We are preparing for a massive vintage J.M tasting like we’ve done it with J.Bally, so let’s take this as a warming-up session. Since the tasting was planned for more than a year ago and didn’t happen so far, we really don’t know when we will have it though.
J.M VO (43%): We shouldn’t forget to check out the standards as well! Nose: Very soft and unspectacular. Don’t get me wrong, this mix of vanila, sweet cherries, freshly squeezes cane juice and lime will always be nice, but we’ve surely reached a point in our Rum “career” where these types of bottlings start failing to impress us, even though there’s absolutely nothing inherently wrong with them. But let’s see. Palate: Not as juvenile as the nose but also not as smooth as the XO, for instance. Vanilla, sour cherries, lime juice, plums, freshly cut grass, pepper and sweet, red bell pepper are my main associations. This is definitely a very well-made Rum, that’s for sure! Finish: Short with oak, spices, and citrus fruits. There are still value for money bottlings like this to be found, and I think I even prefer it to the VSOP. (82/100)
J.M VSOP (43%): Nose: It is immediately clear that this is drier than the VO, even though it is still very fresh and lively. Nevertheless, it also feels a bit more smoky in direct comparison, without coming with any smoky notes per se, of course. We get grains, cane and grass, hay even, a whiff of olives and brine, anise, fennel seeds and apple wood. Not bad, but not exciting either. Palate: Well there actually is a smoky element in here, which does come from the apple wood chips I believe. Also BBQ. Other notes include apple juice, oak, fennel, grass and Calvados. I don’t know what it is, but I’ve enjoyed it a lot more the last time I’ve tried it, which is already quite a few years ago. Back than it might even have been my favorite of the standard range. Finish: Short with apples/ Calvados, medical notes, oak and the fennel seeds. The Rum falls in this odd middle-ground between young and mature, that I struggle with so often. (78/100)
For the next pair of Rhums, there have been multiple different barrels with the exact same age, vintage and abv and unfortunately I cannot tell which barrels my samples come from. Alas, there’s also no RumX reference.
J.M 2005 10YO Armagnac Finish (41,5%): Cognac barrels are not uncommon on Martinique but J.M (like everyone else) seems to age mostly in ex-Bourbon barrels. The ex-Armagnac cask only provided the finish here though. Nose: A bit musty at first, I get notes from the antiquity store, old dark wood, dried tomatoes, coffee and roasting aromas, vanilla but the latter aside, few of the typical J.M aromas. The only question is if this is because of the finish, the high age or the vintage. Palate: Again, very woody and “dark” given that this is J.M – a completely new side of the distillery for me. I get vanilla, tonka, leather, cinnamon, wood of course but none that I would have associated with Armagnac blindly. Now slightly grassy notes, mud or soil and more vegetal flavours. All of this is fine and well but it is not the J.M I adore, unfortunately. Finish: Woody and not extremely long with leather, dark red wine and something considerably close to walnut. Well, in a way there is no point in labeling this as a special finish but then again, it altered the typical J.M profile considerably, just not for the better. (82/100)
J.M 2006 10YO Calvados Finish (41,4%): Ten months in a Calvados cask can be a lot but Agricole and Calvados is a darn good match in my book. Nose: I immediately get apples but not to the extent that I would have claimed confidently that this is a Calvados finish. After all, apples are a very typical note in many agricoles. Behind that I get sour cherries, cocoa, whiffs of marzipan, now also sweeter cherries, wood and slightly herbal notes. This works for me! Palate: Yes! This is a very nice mix between the Calvados notes and the J.M profile. Actually, the finish could be even more prominent for my liking, the combination is just that good. Apples, vanilla, cherries, oak, grain, syrupy notes, some grass, daisies and cut flowers as well as very mineral intense water. This doesn’t have to hide behind their excellent XO at all, which is still pretty much one of the best affordable standards from Martinique. Finish: Medium long with apples (Cider mostly), wood and burnt vanilla. Well done but please feel free to take this idea to the extreme next time. (85/100)
I actually wanted to end the session at this point, but for some reason I am curious to compare todays Rhums to the unaged standard as well.
J.M Blanc (55%): I believe that this is essentially the same stuff as the the 50% version we’ve reviewed before but it never hurts to double check. And I loved that stuff, so it won’t hurt to try it again. And we’ve yet to score it! Nose: Ah, right up my street. We get a mix of fruits such as pineapple, papaya, cherries and citrus paired with a whiff of cinnamon and the most lovely sugar cane you can imagine. Just stunning. Palate: Fresh, crisp and intense yet smooth at the same time. The aromas from the nose translate very well to the palate, which is no surprise with these unaged ones. Perhaps a tiny drop of saline solution on top to round things off. Very nice! Finish: Still clear and crisp with the grassy notes of the sugar cane. A splendid Blanc that is even better than the 50% bottling and better than at the vast majority of its competitors. (85/100)