You’ll be forgiven for thinking rum is a bit boring. As spirits go, it’s consistent, yet uninspiring. Rarely do you see headlines touting the category’s “explosive” popularity like you do with whiskey, tequila or Cognac. Rum distillers aren’t prone to touting provenance and terroir as is all the rage these days with vodka, or to the sort of experimentation that yields exciting new styles of gin and mezcal. Rum isn’t a shiny new object like baijou, and so far nobody’s infused any commercial rum with CBD.
So you bet people took notice a few years back, when Plantation Rum introduced something called the Extrême Collection. Here you had one of the world’s most celebrated producers boldly challenging rum’s entrenched ho-hum rep with a product line so radical, the name required a circumflex accent mark.
Plantation Rum’s master blender Alexandre Gabriel calls the Extrême Collection the brand’s most daring rums, produced from barrels he himself chose and set aside to be bottled at cask strength and released in very small quantities (approximately 2,000 bottles of each). This month marks the debut of the third annual collection, consisting of two expressions from Plantation’s famed Long Pond Distillery, both aged 21 years in Jamaica in bourbon casks, before being shipped off to France for an additional year of finishing in Ferrand Cognac barrels.
At 112.4 proof, Plantation Long Pond HJC 1996 ($250) is the slightly more potent potable of the pair. The nose offers flamed orange zest and clotted cream, with a whiff of banana to boot. Drink it, and bathe your palate in delicious fruit flavor, from mango to apple to kiwi. Once the fruit settles in, biscuit and wild herb notes reveal themselves. Plantation Long Pond ITP 1996 ($250) is bottled at 109.6 proof and is a wee bit sweeter than the HJC. The nose is quite floral, and the palate is marked by the richness of guava, pineapple and molasses. Finish is long and dry, with prominent notes of cedar wood and candied nuts.
Plantation’s Extrême Collection may not turn heads like, say, a quince tea spirit distilled via ultrasonic waves rather than heat or gin infused with wormwood and lotus blossom, but as rum goes, you might say it’s downright êdgy.