Plantation, Excellence Rum selections: interview with Alexandre Gabriel

14 January 2023 | Interviews & Meetings
Plantation, Excellence Rum selections: interview with Alexandre Gabriel

Excellence Rhum traveled to the heart of Plantation's cellars to select for you remarkable rums that have benefited from extraordinary finishes. Thus we found an Australian rum whose production process and the combination of Cognac and Sherry barrels bring a beautiful aromatic complexity. A finish in an ex-Maury wine cask delivers richness and depth to a fine Barbados rum. Finally, a finish in an ex-barrel of orange wine applied to a Jamaican rum which brings a very beautiful and surprising tasting experience.

Hello Alexandre Gabriel, founder of Plantation rums, thank you for granting us this interview. Plantation rums has been offering a selection of single casks for nearly fifteen years, with double or even triple aging as its trademark. Since 2017, it has been reserved exclusively for wine and spirits merchants. Plantation offers a new collection every year which is constantly renewed. Can you tell us more?

Alexandre Gabriel: Indeed for the first so-called tropical ageing, we select rums on site in our distilleries in Barbados and Jamaica or we buy them from other distilleries in Guyana, Australia…. A second aging of several years in Cognac barrels is carried out at the Ferrand estate, in Cognac. Finally, we have a third aging in our cellars at Plantation in barrels of whisky, sherry, wine, beer, bourbon…

Alexandre Gabriel, in the Plantation Rum cellars in Cognac

How do you find the barrels for your finishes?

There are three methods for us to buy barrels which are used to create the expression of our single casks. The first is the most intimate level, the Barrel swap. These are exchanges with other distilleries, such as Rozelieures, Linie… The second is to buy barrels directly from wine producers to have the freshest barrels possible. The third is directly with a dozen partner barrel makers who are attentive to our needs and supply us with barrels of different essences all year round.

Your latest collection gives pride of place to aging in wine barrels and more particularly in atypical barrels, any particular reason?

For nearly fifteen years we have always been looking for different products, there have never been two identical single casks.

Before 1930, the aging of rum in the Caribbean was essentially done in barrels that had previously contained sweet wine and liqueurs which brought unique aromatic profiles, although they served above all as a support, a container, in both directions between Europe and the Caribbean, depending on the means of the distilleries.

Since 1930 the cask has essentially been an ex-bourbon cask. At the end of the American prohibition, the manufacture of bourbon resumed and, being very consuming new oak barrels, the market found itself flooded with ex-bourbon barrels much cheaper than those coming from Europe. Thanks to the volume and the low costs, it becomes predominant on the Caribbean islands.

The principle of this single cask series is a tribute to this ancient tradition of exchanges from the beginning of the 19th century, by recreating the flavors of yesteryear.

What are the characteristics of Australia Beenleigh 2009 Finish Sherry Palo Cortado?

We are on an Australian rum aged 11 years at the distillery in an ex-bourbon barrel, 1 year at Plantation in an ex-barrel of Cognac Borderie XO and finally 4 months in an ex-barrel of very high quality old Palo Cortado Sherry. For the technical data, we are on a molasses rum, 100% pot still, at 45.2%, for 0 gr sugar dosage with 110 gr esters and 277gr of volatile substances. The originality comes from the unique yeast borrowed from Jamaica more than a century ago which continued to be used in Australia to have very structured and technical rums. We are on the last batches of this process. This rum will have fermented for 12 days with this unique yeast.

What is its taste profile?

This single cask is characterized by a nose on citrus fruits, mandarin and grapefruit, dry and slightly spicy apricot, the mouth develops on oak, the slight bitterness of citrus fruits, chocolate and almond. The finish is on spices, almond, cinnamon as well as cocoa and ends on a nice freshness.

What are the technical characteristics of the Barbados 2011 Finish Maury Wine Cask?

We are on a Barbados rum, from WIRD, aged in tropical climate for 4 years in ex-bourbon cask, followed by 6 years in ex-cognac Borderie XO cask in Cognac, and finally 9 months in an ex-Maury cask. For the technical data, we are on a molasses rum from a blend of Gregg Farm pot still and John Dore column still, at 48.2% for a dosage of 4 gr, 130 gr of esters and 185 gr volatile substances.

What is its taste profile?

This single cask is characterized by a rich nose of raisins, orange peel and coffee. The palate is intense and develops on nuts, cocoa and gingerbread, the finish is long and pleasant on leather and spices.

What are the technical characteristics of Single Cask Long Pond 2009 VRW Finish Spanish Orange Wine?

We are on a Jamaican rum from Long Pond Distillery, aged 8 years in tropical climate in ex-Bourbon cask, 4 years at Plantation in ex-Ferrand cognac cask and a finish of 7 months in ex-Spanish Orange Wine cask. For the technical data, we are on a 100% molasses rum, distilled in pot still, 53%, zero sugar dosage, 172 gr of esters for 866 gr of volatile substances.

What is its taste profile?

This single cask is characterized by a Jamaican nose with ripe banana, tropical fruits, orange of course as well as, more surprisingly, beeswax and pear compote followed by vegetal notes. On the palate, we stay on tropical fruits at full maturity but with hints of green apple. We can also feel some spices, nutmeg, cinnamon, tonka and brioche. We are on a long, intense finish, typical of Jamaican rums.

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Interview by

Laurent Danigo
Spirits Advisor