Hazmagricoles! Longueteau, Neisson, and Père Labat over 69%

Put on your PPE, we’re working with some hazmat-proof rums today! It has become common for distilleries in Martinique and Guadeloupe to produce an officially bottled brut de colonne (literally, “raw-column”). These rums are still strength rhums blancs, meaning that they are bottled without dilution or barrel aging (though many are rested in inert containers like stainless steel).

Longueteau Genesis 2017 Batch 2 (72.25%)

Distillerie Longueteau is one of many fantastic distilleries located on Basse-Terre in Guadeloupe. This batch from 2017 was made from the estate’s red cane (R579) and rested twenty-four months in stainless steel tanks.

The nose is herbal and ashy. I get sea breeze, fennel seeds, basil, sage, cucumber, Play-Doh, fresh rainfall, and soot. Right at the end of the tasting session, some vanilla cake emerged out of nowhere.

The palate leans heavily into the herbal and vegetal notes: fennel seeds, sage, bitter cucumber, romaine lettuce, lemon pith, a little olive, and some seawater to top it off. 

This is giving off some “working in the garden” vibes, and I’m loving it. I hear Longueteau is on the way to the U.S. – here’s hoping that opens the door to rums like this. (8/10)

Neisson L’Esprit (70%)

Though not a true brut de colonne, L’Esprit is pretty close. This is a blend of distillate from Distillerie Neisson in Martinique diluted slightly to 70% and rested six months in stainless steel. Fun fact: Neisson began releasing L’Esprit for its seventieth anniversary in 2002, hence the bottling proof.

On the nose, I get even more sea breeze than the Longueteau, grapefruit and lime peel, hydrangea, fennel fronds, clove, green cardamom pods, wood smoke, and Play-Doh.

The palate presents grapefruit, lime, hydrangea, rocks, and a little smoke. The sea breeze from the nose manifests more like chlorinated pool water on the palate. 

Stylistically, this is very similar to the Longueteau. It’s more citrusy and less herbal, but it still shares that quintessential clean agricole profile amped up to eleven. (8/10)

Père Labat Single Plot: Les Mangles (70.7%)

Returning to Guadeloupe, we’re now taking the ferry over to Marie-Galante, home of Distillerie Poisson. This U.S. release of Les Mangles was column distilled exclusively from the yield of a single plot of cane on the north end of the Poisson estate. 

Woah, this is noticeably different from the other two. The major distinguishing notes on the nose are lemon-lime soda, fresh hay, and lotion with shea butter. I also get celery, mint toothpaste, ash, fresh rainfall, and of course, some olives and sea breeze.

On the palate, lemon-lime soda leads the way. Followed behind it are fresh hay, celery, high sodium mineral water, and mint toothpaste.

This is easily the weirdest of the bunch, but it’s equally as good. Some have described this as the esoteric sibling of the more hedonistic (also still-strength) Labat Organic, and I think I get why. (8/10)

Final Thoughts

One thing I love about Jamaican distilleries is just how different they can be from one another (e.g., Hampden and Worthy Park). With Martinique and Guadeloupe, it’s how similar and remarkably consistent they can be. With the slight exception of the Père Labat, all of these are like variations on a theme, each bearing resemblance to the others while being beautifully unique.

All three of these are phenomenal, and lovers of rhum agricole should seek them out. Maybe just stick to one tasting at a time, though – I’m going to need a nap after this one.