Origin: Rum Co. of Fiji, Pacific Harbour, Fiji
Still: Pot & Column Blend
Age: 3 years
Finish: ex-Bourbon & ex-Cognac
Plantation rum is a globally-recognized brand, notable for their labels that feature tropical motifs and straw wrapping, and typically have a large allocation almost anywhere you encounter their bottles.
Plantation is owned by Maison Ferrand, who along with their owner Alexandre Gabriel, are also recognized by their eponoymous cognac brand, as well as liqueur brands like Pierre Ferrand and Mathilde. Plantation's rum portfolio is likely well-known from casual to expert rum enjoyers, specifically by their cocktail-friendly lineup: 3 Star, Traditional Dark, Stiggin's Fancy Pinneapple, and OFTD. These blends have components from different distilleries, but all contain Barbados rum sourced from the Ferrand-owned West Indies Rum Distillery (WIRD).
Aside from the "bar classics", Plantation also offers some more specialized blends that concentrate on one or two specific terroirs. Among these blends is today's subject: the Isle of Fiji.
Plantation Isle of Fiji is a blend of rums sourced from Rum Co. of Fiji, tropically-aged for 2-3 years in ex-Bourbon casks, and transferred to Maison Ferrand facitilies in the Southwest of France for 1 year of aging in Ferrand coganc casks. Per Plantation's Isle of Fiji product page, this blend has 16g/L of additives, which comes out to about 1g per 2oz pour of rum (750ml is ~25oz), indicating that there will likely be some noticeable sweetness detectable from this rum.
Plantation is infamous for adding sweeteners to their blends, which is a major turn-off to many rum drinkers (myself included), and may indicate that the bottler does not believe in the quality of the rum on its own. I will not go into further detail here, but there are several other issues that the rum community has with the Plantation brand and/or their products.
I'm hoping that although this rum is more heavily sweetened than I am used to, that I will be pleasantly surprised at what I find. Fiji makes some excellent rum– some that will show up in future releases– and it is not as readily available as rums from the Caribbean. It is nice to see a lesser-known source location show up in widely-available bottles.
Special thanks to Andrew Hinton and Friends of Rum Tennessee (FORT) for providing this sample to me.
Light gold, medium-high clarity, medium-high viscosity
Underripe blueberries, dry white wine, pear, paint thinner, hint of banana
"Gourmet" orange slice candy, pear, banana, pineapple
Short, sweet, slight fruit funk; honey, pineapple, demerara sugar
Plantation Isle of Fiji unfortunately falls short of what I know Fijian rum is capable of. This bottling is quite sweet (as noted on the product page), and although it has a fairly powerful nose, the 80 proof palate does not match up to what the bouquet presented.
Isle of Fiji is a light gold color, with medium-high clarity and medium-high viscosity.
The nose offers notes of underripe blueberries, dry white wine, pears, paint thinner, and a hint of banana. Definitely noticing the Fiji pot still notes of fruit and industrial funk that I've experienced in other bottles, and a decent nosing experience overall.
Tasting Isle of Fiji, I get notes of "gourmet" orange slice candy (photo for reference), pear, banana, and pineapple. The palate certainly falls short of what the nose suggests may be in store when sipping, but does provide some Fiji funk and some fruity flavors. Unfortuantely, this is overladen with sweeteners, to the point that the overture is akin to the "gourmet" orange slice candies, and not simply oranges themselves.
The rum's finish is short, sweet, with a slight fruit funk. It's fairly viscous and textural after sipping, reminiscent of honey, with some faint pineapple and spiced demerara sugar notes as the finish trails off.
If I had never tasted a Fijian rum before, I would say that this was a really unique rum that checks boxes I didn't know I had. Because I've had a few other bottlings of Fiji rum (some that really blew me away), what I see in this bottle is an unfotunately adulterated, weak, and generally disappointing experience. I will give props to Plantation/Maison Ferrand for bottling a rum that those who are not as deep into the rum journey as others may find interesting, but I believe there are much better, more genuine expressions of Fiji rum available.