Brand: Neisson, Special Bottling for Ed Hamilton series
Origin: Distillerie Neisson, Martinique (picked by Ed Hamilton)
Age: 3 years, 8 months
Finish: ex-Cognac & ex-Bourbon
Neisson rhum agricole comes from Distillerie Neisson on the northwest of Martinique. The roots stretch back to 1931, when Adrien Neisson purchased 20 hectares of land and started growing sugarcane on it, later enlisting his younger brother to learn the ins and outs of rhum production from university. Today, the private (non-corporate-owned) distillery continues the tradition of Neisson and his descendants in crafting both unaged (blanc) and aged (vieux) agricoles.
This particular bottle is a rhum agricole vieux, and was specially bottled for Ed Hamilton, who alongside his independent bottler/private label rum brand is also the importer of Neisson. The rhum was produced from Neisson's Savalle Creole column still in 2014, and aged for 3 years in an ex-Cognac cask. In 2017, it was transferred to an ex-Bourbon cask for 8 months, and finally bottled at 51% ABV.
These single barrel bottles are well-regarded and sought after, as only 250 bottles were available upon release. I stumbled upon this bottle at Federal Wine & Spirits in Boston, MA while visiting for a Rum Consumer Alliance trip in 2022.
Dark gold, medium clarity, low viscosity
Dried apricot, fermenting grapes, brown sugar, saltwater, burnt cane
Burnt sugarcane, dried apricot, cinnamon, honey, clove, vanilla, star anise
Medium-long, warming, spiced; vanilla, oak, stewed grapes, toasted marshmallow
As far as agricole vieux go, I prefer longer-aged and higher proof expressions, otherwise the cask influence typically is too minimal, and the bold character of the unaged distillate is lost. This particular rhum seems to break that mould.
With just over 3 and a half years of aging, this Neisson Vieux single barrel packs a powerful punch of sugarcane, fruit, and spices. The palate suggests that the cognac cask really did some work in the 3 years the rhum was residing inside, and along with the high proof, helps overcome some of the mildness that younger vieux agricole often have.
I can see why Ed chose to bottle this wonderful rum: it's remarkably balanced, and just a fun rum to enjoy. The reputation of these Neisson bottlings is certainly well-founded and I'm glad I decided to spring for a bottle of this rhum.