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Rum Review: Saint James Hors d'Age Rum

 
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How do you rate Saint James Hors d'Age Rum (five is best)?
5
0%
 0%  [ 0 ]
4
100%
 100%  [ 2 ]
3
0%
 0%  [ 0 ]
2
0%
 0%  [ 0 ]
1
0%
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Total Votes : 2

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Capn Jimbo
Rum Evangelisti and Compleat Idiot


Joined: 11 Dec 2006
Posts: 3424
Location: Paradise: Fort Lauderdale of course...

PostPosted: Sat Jun 21, 2008 11:30 am    Post subject: Rum Review: Saint James Hors d'Age Rum Reply with quote

Saint James Hors d'Age Rum: "Smoky Orange Cane"

As some of you may have discovered, Sue Sea and I have made every attempt to taste cane juice rums (or "rhums" for the faux-French rhum snobs), including the Saint James offerings, Barbancourt, 10 Cane and even Oronoco. No one - even the snobs - will deny that Saint James' rums are straight ahead, Martinique-based cane juice rums.

Our experience with Saint James Ambre and the Extra Old have been mixed. Ambre is a no holds barred, pungent cane juice rum. It smells like cane juice, tastes like cane juice and finishes like cane juice. In your face, mon ami! Saint James even refers to the Ambre (and the Extra Old) for use as "digestives". A good chaser for your cod liver oil. Only the (relatively) expensive Hors d'Age avoids this offputting nomenclature. Are they telling us something? To the reviews...

Sue Sea:

Quote:
I have always liked the Saint James bottles, which look every bit of authentic, rich, quiet and cultured - similar to fine aged whiskey, which is actually not a bad comparison. Some of you may remember that I found Extra Old's aroma (unlike the Ambre) quite enticing, but that its taste was hollow and inconsistent. The deep orange and vanilla I expected weren't there and the cane, though much smoother, took over.

Hors d'Age was completely different and really quite nice. Like the Extra Old, the aroma was initially a smooth caney/reedy with a deep orange, vanilla and raisin coming forth. And some smokey oak. The taste was entirely consistent, not the least bit hollow, and carried through to a long, smooth, peppery warm finish. Very nice. This is the first of the Saint James line that I consider a good sipping rum. I believe drinkers of fine whiskey would also love this offering. It creates images of dimly lighted drawing rooms, leather chairs and a crackling fireplace.

Too bad we live in Florida, ha!


Me:

I must be honest and tell you that neither Amber nor the Extra Old are truly sipping quality. Ambre is entirely pungent cane, with only a hint of background fruit. Extra Old softened the cane (and brought up the pleasant background), but the taste was unexpectedly hollow (empty) and with only a growing, strong cane and pepper finish. Improved but still not ready for prime time. Hors d'Age is. Its color is a beautiful clear and brilliant amber with olive edges. I found this a very pleasant, yet hearty cane juice rum - perfectly balanced and entirely consistent from aroma to finish. A tremendous improvement over the Extra Old.

I won't repeat Sue Sea's impressions as we are in complete accord on this one. Hors d'Age is rather expensive ($50), but I was fortunate in finding it for a mere $21 and simply couldn't resist. Our ratings reflect the usual, higher price - at $21 I'd be tempted to add a point and insist you buy it. Now I will say that while Hors d'Age cannot be compared to the superior Barbancourt Five Star, it does fairly reflect the AOC-nannied style and product of Martinique quite nicely. If you can find it near $30, do buy it.

Score (10 is best): a solid 7.


***************


Note: Some of you may be wondering what the notable differences are when compared to St James Ambre and Extra Old. Comparing all three, even two, is a worthy endeavor - which I highly recommend - as it illustrates directly the effects of aging and good oak on rum.

When compared, Ambre is noticeably more pungent - more caney, moldy, horsy, almost sour. There is a hint of tar, old leather and a distant sweetness. Aging has reduced the cane to a lighter, smoother note in the Extra Old and the sweet tones are much less distant. And so it goes throughout the tasting. Aging reduces the cane, brings up the background and complexity. Still, Extra Old is hollow and inconsistent - the taste is passing and non-reflective of the delicious aroma, and it's back to strong cane like its snot-nosed little brother.

Hor's d'Age is a vast improvement - completely balanced, consistent and smooth - while retaining a pleasant peppery warm finish. The cane has been put in it's place - smooth, light and in the background where it belongs.

It's a funny thing. The rhum snobs have wet dreams over the notion of AOC-nannied "fresh cane juice" products, but the highest rated and extravagantly priced "vintages" (going for $90) are those where - like the Hors d'Age - aging has come close to eliminating the "cane" notes they espouse.

An interesting contradiction. Acquired because it's from cane juice, but is more appreciated the less you can taste it. Or when you hide it in "Ti Punch". Hmm...

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Trebutor
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Joined: 02 Jun 2012
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 07, 2014 9:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Aye Capn, I just tasted the 7 years from Saint James and was pleasantly surprised. "Hors d'Age" should be a mix of 6 to 10 years, so a bit more tamed. If you find a cheap bottle of 7, try it. I am now looking to try the 12 and 15 years bottles, but they are expensive.

So far it's the only aged cane juice I really enjoyed, but the others I tried were "Vieux" or "Tres vieux", so around 3 years old.

By the way, "James" is a variation of "Jacques" in old French, so a real snob would pronounce it "Ja-m".

Cheers
Trebutor
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Capn Jimbo
Rum Evangelisti and Compleat Idiot


Joined: 11 Dec 2006
Posts: 3424
Location: Paradise: Fort Lauderdale of course...

PostPosted: Tue Mar 31, 2015 8:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Revisited...


One of the fun things about having a collection is the opportunity to go back - sometimes many months later - to revisit a rum. To be fair, my recollection of the Saint James line was not bad, but nor was it exceptional. This time and for at least the Hors d'Age it was.

To be fair, the original revew (and comparison to the Ambre and Extra Old) were all techinically correct, but for some reason in revising the HdA I came to much better appreciate it's consistency, harmony and balance. The nose made clear that this is absolutely a cane juice (and actually reminded me of the Ron de Caldas 8 year), but one that has aged exceedingly well. The descriptor that kept presenting itself was "deep":

Deep orange, smokey tar, old leather and a kind of sweetness (missing from the younger versions). The dominant impression was a deep tar, with raisin and prune - all over a distant vanillan. Deep, deeper and rich! Also unlike the younger versions, the HdA has completely subdued any trace of alcohol. The palate is entire consistent with all these elements in deep harmony. It opened with a full-bodied aforementioned deep sweet orange, and then transitioned into a nice dry, slightly astringent leather, then pivoting once more into a beautifully balanced sweet heat featuring white pepper. The lovely aftertaste left lingering deep fruits. What a ride!

The Hors d'Age wa an incredibly integrated experience that moved smoothly through the juxtapositions of sweet-deep fruit to dry leather to sweet-heat to the lingering fruit, full circle. I simply marveled at what modest but great aging can accomplish, near perfect here, but I wouldn't want the HdA to be aged a minute longer. I must say the aftertaste just wouldn't quit. Perhaps an hour later I found myself nosing the empty glass to enjoy the lingering smokey tar that somehow truly fine rums seem to leave.

As far as score, I would be tempted to add at least point, perhaps even two to a very solid 8 or even a 9. Unfortunately, the Saint James Hors d'Age is now VERY hard to find, and if I recall, much more expensive than the closeout $21 I paid long ago. In sum, I'll just have to stretch this one out for special occasions...
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