Brand: Bapt & Clem's, Unusual Spirits series
Origin: Savanna, Cambuston, Saint-André, Réunion
Age: 12 years
Bapt & Clem's is far from a household name, but it has an undeniable pedigree. The brainchild of Marc Darroze, of the Darroze family, Bapt & Clem's departs the familial heritage of sourcing fine Armagnac and instead focuses on providing a broader range of exceptional spirits. The core of Bapt & Clem's offerings are rums aged in casks previously used to age brandies or wines of various type; other releases include Cognac and Calvados.
Today, we focus on a rum Bapt & Clem's sourced from a distillery not readily available to most in the US: Savanna of Réunion, an overseas department of France. Located on the Northeast of the island, Savanna has the distinction of producing sugarcane juice rhum agricoles and molasses rums, as well as blends of the two source materials. If you're more of a funk/marque nerd, you may recognize the name from the Habitation Velier release: "Savanna HERR (High Ester Rum Reunion)".
The Bapt & Clem's Savanna 12 year rum we'll be looking at today was started from a base of molasses (supplied by the nearby Bois-Rouge sugar refinery), produced by the distillery's column stills, and aged for its entire 12 years in ex-Cognac barrel(s) before being bottled at 45% ABV. My bottle is #1221 of the 2,073 total bottles produced of this expression.
I bought this bottle as a birthday present to myself last year, and was actually the first >$100 bottle that I purchased (that record has since been shattered). It holds a special place in my heart and my bar, so let's get into the review.
Orange-brown, with a hint of red; high clarity, medium viscosity
Ripe red grapes, demerara sugar, crisp green apples, nutmeg, honey, hint of eucalyptus
Sour red grapes, orange, spiced cinnamon, vanilla pudding
Long, hot, creamy, and moist; notes of sweet, tropical fruit, slight tannins, ending on a note of sour grapes
Bapt & Clem's Savanna 12 year is an excellent example of how you can create a beautiful, well-balanced spirit with nothing more than good source materials, knowledge of distillation, and a keen eye for aging and harvesting. The flavors, mouthfeel, and proof point seem to really gel in this release.
The rum itself is a nice reddish-orangish-brown in the glass, with high clarity and medium viscosity. No doubt the cognac cask played a part in this presentation.
On the nose, I get ripe red grapes, demerara sugar, crisp green apples, nutmeg, honey, and just a hint of eucalyptus. It certainly carries some fruit-forward aromas from the cognac, but also sports some sugary notes in a nod to its molasses base.
The palate offers sour red grapes, orange, spicy cinnamon, and vanilla pudding notes. The flavors hit almost all at once in a wave, and gently ease one into the finish; it's quite a lovely transition. The result is a nice coating of the mouth, similar to that of a pudding.
The finish is long, hot, creamy, and moist. It provides notes of sweet tropical fruits, some oak tannins, and ends on a note of sour grapes, in another homage to its aging vessel.
This is a really well-rounded rum, and a rare look at a prolific, non-Caribbean distillery previously not known to me. For many American rum enthusiasts, this Bapt & Clem's release will likely be the only opportunity to experience Savanna rum for some time. I definitely recommend grabbing a bottle if you see it on a shelf, especially if you're a fan of Cognac or Armagnac.