Today we’re visiting Marie-Galante, a little island just south of its parent-island of Guadeloupe. On this Island there are 3 distilleries: Habitation Bellevue, Poisson (Père Labat) and Bielle.
Bielle is todays subject. The distillery was founded at the end of the 19th century and produces its rum in the old fashioned Agricole way. This means with pure cane juice and creole column stills. This production method is widely used in almost all French speaking rum producing islands and mostly gives a fresh, herbal and grassy taste, a rather specific palate as a general category, with a lot of variety from distillery to distillery in the category. This again shows the insane flexibility rum has.
The Bielle distillery and the other distilleries on the island were replacements for the small “sucrottes”. These were tiny sugar cane plantations that have become unviable due to a globalizing sugar production (cane and beets). Instead of stopping production, these sucrottes became Agricole distilleries which use the fesh cane juice to make an outstanding product.
Today’s Bielle is the Brut de Fût 2012. Brut de Fût meaning cask strength… and 2012 meaning it was distilled in 2012… Thank you captain obvious.
The rum was distilled in 2012 using Savalle (créole) column stills after being fermented in open air for 48h. It was bottled in January of 2020, this will put the rum somewhere between an old 7 years old to 8 years. These years of aging resulted in a final ABV of 53.7%
Deep orange-brown, dark copper hue
The initial nose is quite closed. Revealing only hints of vanilla beans with some grass attached. However, it doesn’t take long for it to start coming open. A hefty vegetal nose starts coming through surrounded by oaky influences; a bit of spice and again some vanilla all support this dark sort of grassiness.
Again, right on beginning of the first sip, this rum feels closed. And just like on the nose it doesn’t take too long to expose itself. The same vegetal note hists again, but more pronounced and fresh. I get this very particular taste of those classic brown plasters and I must say, I don’t hate it. This reminds me of the “chemical and medicinal” qualities some Jamaican rums are said to have. Though in Rhum Agricole the specific flavour here can be disruptive to me rather soon. The Bielle is well-balanced and the plaster remains within the bounds of the pleasant.
In this case it gives a fresher impression than for example Clairin or Providence. Though it is deeper and more rounded out thanks to the cask influence than some of the very minty unaged Agricoles.
Thanks to this cask influence I also get spices, a bit of caramel and vanilla on the palate as well alongside some leather and tobacco (this only in minor forms). Lovely and interesting dram
The finish is medium-long, with spices being the main attraction and a musty-ish and dark grassy/vanilla sideshow.
Pretty great rum. It clearly is an Agricole without it feeling like purely grass in a glass. It has depth and complexity and it does it better than the Vieux Clairin. The vegetal and woody notes complement each other far better and create a very nice and pure rum. A very very solid Vieux Agricole.
I’m a fan!