The Taste Of The Ocean…
There’s an expression of rhum from Martinique that’s rather special – and given that I think a huge amount of rhum from Martinique is pretty damn good, then please believe me when I say that this one really stands out. It’s not aged for a long time; it’s not even matured at all. It’s special to me because it helps demonstrate that rhum produced from sugar cane juice is fully able to demonstrate a sense of origin.
I believe that in the agricole rhum category (the production of spirits from fermented sugarcane juice) the scope exists for discerning the differences between cane types post distillation and furthermore between the same cane types, the differences in different growing locations can also be detected. That’s why Trois Rivières Cuvée de l'Océan is so exciting for me.
I’m told by my agricole expert friends that it’s produced from a single variety of sugarcane: canne zikak (yellow cane) B80.08, which again is reasonably unique as the majority of agricole's are blends of cane varieties. It also uses a specific yeast strain in fermentation rather than the more common baker’s yeast. My recent experience in Martinique is that producers are quite open about the majority of their processes, but will keep details such as the details as specific yeast strains a closely guarded secret.
The name Cuvée de l'Océan should perhaps be the giveaway – the fields of sugar cane are grown in the very south of Martinique in l'Anse Trabaud and are said to have their ‘feet in the water’. The proximity to the sea (or l'Océan if you will) adds a gentle salinity to the rhum that ensures it tastes like nothing else I’ve ever tried and I mean that in a very pleasant way. You are treated to all the lovely delicate sweet fruity, and light grassy notes of a well-made white agricole, but are further treated to additional mineral notes such as salt and iodine which extend the experience. Let me stress, this is not a salty spirit – this is a pleasantly accented spirit.
With so many fine white agricoles being presented at 50%ABV or above, there is a part of me that wonders why this is only presented at 42% - it’s a passing wonder though – it’s a great sip in itself and it’s a wonderful rhum to work with in cocktails.
The entry on the Trois Rivières website for Cuvée de l'Océan suggests that it is an excellent choice to pair with seafood and whilst I’m not going to disagree, the theory of flavour pairing means that we should be looking for complimentary flavours that extend the experience, rather than further enhancing what’s there, but I guess any seafood restaurant would find it an ‘easy fit’ to include it on their drinks menu. My mind thinks of how the salted caramel combo work and wonders what I should be adding to my ti’punch to exploit that sort of relationship.
I picked a bottle up of the Cuvée de l'Océan whilst on my travels to Martinique, although I had encountered it before then at the Paris RhumFest – the language barrier preventing me from fully grasping the unique nature of this rhum. Given that the category of agricole is much misunderstood in the UK, the chances of having such a specialist expression commercially available is (was) slim. However, with a little interest already shown and a phone conversation where I extolled the virtues, the good news is that some cases of Trois Rivieres Cuvee de l'Ocean are now (at the time of this article being published) en-route to the UK and should be available from the end of September 2016.
I’m really pleased, because I’m looking forward to some wonderful cocktails becoming available once the very best bartenders have access to the Cuvee de l'Ocean. I’m also now safe to carry on using Cuvée de l'Océan to further educate people to the delights and delicacies of agricole rhum, safe in the knowledge that I can replace the bottle!
I’m told the price should be in the region of £33 and will be available from the Whisky Exchange. I know we’ve a couple of months before its released, but it’s almost worth marking your calendars for this one as it really is a lovely drop of rhum!
Rum Databank: Trois Rivières Cuvée de l'Océan
Country of Origin: Martinique
Cost: £33 (estimated)