Rhum Barbancourt Five Star Réserve Spéciale

Rhum Barbancourt Five Star

Rhum Agricole, 8 years,
43% ABV, $22


I’m finishing off my bottle of this one and decided to give it a closer look before its all gone. My Barbancourt experience started off rough and I didn’t care for this one at first, but as time has passed I’ve come to appreciate it more and more. My intent is to determine whether I continue the experience or move on to another Rhum Agricole offering (e.g. Montecristo 12 Year).

The nose is earthy and mildly sweet with notes of sugar cane (I was raised in south Louisiana and know this smell), toffee, honey, prunes and roasted walnut. If you nose it lightly, the aroma takes on a definite woody quality with the sweetness deriving more from caramel. You have to breathe it in deeply to get the details. It’s a light, delicate aroma that I’ve not fully appreciated until now.

The taste is nutty, tart, sweet and peppery and the finish is leathery while the peppery heat dissipates slowly. Up front I taste walnut, persimmon (which I’ve not had in a long time), ginger, black pepper, vanilla and bitter honey. I’ve heard that the flavor has a reedy quality and I think that this may be coming through as nuts in combination with the persimmon and bitter honey. It’s an interesting flavor that you don’t get from molasses based rum. The more I sip on this, the more I detect a brief appearance of tart apple mid-palate. There’s also a mild anise taste on the back of the tongue that lingers long after the pepper fades. This is definitely not a sweet rum and it also avoids the dryness of some Barbadian offerings. It’s not bold, but it offers some nice complexity that keeps me interested. It’s also different enough from other rum styles to provide some useful variety.

It’s clear that I’ve sold this rum short in the past and this detailed tasting has guaranteed a spot in my collection for it. It’s also solidified my decision to not purchase Barbancourt’s 3-Star (4 Year) offering, which is supposed to offer more reedy taste and less wood. I may even opt to go in the other direction and try their reasonably priced 15 Year rum. My thanks go to my mentor, Cap’n Jimbo at The Rum Project, for encouraging me to give this rum another shot. I’m glad I did.

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2 thoughts on “Rhum Barbancourt Five Star Réserve Spéciale

  1. Mark, Sue Sea and I thank you for the compliment. As is well said, to be a teacher sometimes means you manage to stay one lesson plan ahead, lol. Barbancourt is indeed an acquired taste, particularly since so many rum drinkers start with molasses-based, column stilled rums that have been tricked up with suger, et al.

    Real and pure rums simply aren’t anywhere near this sweet. All said and done Barbancourt is recognized by Dave Broom as a true world class rum, that is as close to handmade as is possible. This rum could easily sell for three times its cost, which means you can buy a 5-star cane juice rum for around $20.

    What makes this possible is that the distillery operates in a third world country and can thus afford to invest in its expensive distillation and aging. It is remarkable. Sue Sea is quick to say that the more she has experienced rums, the more she appreciates Barbancourt.

    A great review, keep it up!

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