Review #13: Providence First Drops

We’re back baby!!!

After months of laziness, procrastination and lack of motivation or time I’m back once again. I know your lives have been empty as a clam without pearl or you know… you guys with an empty rum cabinet (oh the horror) . But hey, at least I’m back now (who knows for how long).

Okay enough narcissism, let’s talk rum. And boy have I got a good one today. Because today I have the first drops of the latest and greatest new rum in the Caribbean: Providence.

The Providence rum is distilled in the recently opened ‘Distillerie de Port-Au-Prince’ in Haiti. The distillery was opened thanks to a collaboration between La Maison & Velier and the Barbancourt-Linge family. Yes, that Barbancourt and yes, that Maison&velier. So, a distillery opened by Europe’s most important rum importer, one of Europe’s most important liquor stores and a Haitian rum dynasty. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, as it appears, absolutely nothing. The distillery opened in 2018 with a Muller still and its first product is spot on. It’s a distillate of both fresh cane juice and syrup of crystalline sugar. The sugar is sourced by Michel Sajous. Yes, that Sajous (boy, a lot of big names here innit?). The juice and syrup are fermented separately and are then also distilled separately in the Muller still which will always distill in Bain-Marie. After the first distillation both parts are mixed and distilled a second time. This whole process produces an unaged discontinued rum like it was made by Barbancourt up until 1992.

The presentation is quite picturesque as well. A nice old-timey label with old-school, calligraphy-type lettering and cute drawing make it look like a bottle of yore.

Some last information: the rum is bottled at 57%, it has a volatile substance count of 538.9mg/HLPA and an ester count (for all you ester geeks out there) of 212.2gr/HLPA. (as per this post)

this version (First Drops) will be limited (no idea how many bottles are available) but Providence will drop a standard rum which should lessen the thirst of many a rum lover for the foreseeable future.

Let’s taste this piece of Haitian history.

Colour:

Have you ever seen bottled or tap water (not the Flint, Michigan type though)? Yeah that colour

Nose:

Have you ever smelled water? Yeah, nothing like that. Absolutely nothing like that. It’s more as though Clairin Sajous and a light, lovely Mezcal did the horizontal naked cha-cha and 9 months later this came out.

It’s got that grassy tone of clairin with a whiff of smoke surrounding it. It’s like one of those grilled burger commercials with all the over the top smoke in the background but with cane instead of burgers.

After a while the smoke fades away and we are left with a tropical (albeitethanol-fueled) fruit bouquet.  Some apricots, a bite of pear and a leaf of orange blossom. It also has a slight creamy nose to it, a bit yoghurt-y-ish-kinda.

Taste:

On the palate the first sip is really refreshing. Almost none of the smoke is transferred to the taste, instead I’m treated to fresh pineapples red fruits. Of course there’s plenty of grass to go around. Everything is coated with a very familiar Clairin-like vibe.

The rum also has something rather meaty and tarry to me. Here the smoke makes the occasional return; it’s almost like I can chew it a bit, it’s a lovely weird umami mouthfeel and something I don’t get often from a rum. This chewy (no not that chewy) side can also sporadically be found in the yoghurt-y flavour.

Finish:

It also has to be noted that there is a very spicy side to it as well. As soon as I swallow it’s spice island all the way: pepper, ginger and a substantial yet not unpleasant alcohol burn. This is complimented by some notes of coffee and dark chocolate.

To conclude, this is a blasting sugarcane juice/syrup rum. More complex than clairin or any Agricole I’ve tried so far, definitely much bolder than the Agricoles. It is quite in your face however so it’s more positioned for the more experienced drinker. To me this is a more daring and more complete Clairin.

It could also be tamed a bit in a ‘Ti Punch or world class Daiquiri made by Ran (shameless plug to Bar Ran in Bruges here and here).

As a first release from a fresh distillery I’m very curious about what’s to come from this collaborative effort. Great job so far.

9.5/10

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