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Barbancourt 5 Star Reserve Especiale 8-Year Rum is agricultural, meaning it's produced from fermented sugar cane juice rather than the more typical molasses. The sugar cane juice is double distilled and aged for eight years in Limousin oak barrels.
Dupré Barbancourt created the Barbancourt rum recipe in 1862 in Haiti, where the rum is still produced today. A French national, Barbancourt incorporated traditional French methods including double-distillation in the process.
Tasty, but not quite great
I was out looking for a good sipper but my local stores were all inexplicably out of anything good so I took a chance on this one based on reviews and my wanting to try another Agricole. The first drink I had was a small neat. It started out mellow enough but suddenly went south and kicked me in the teeth with a very whiskey-like booze taste with heavy oak and grass flavors. Not terrible. Just jarring/unsettling. For round two, I dropped an ice cube into a nice rocks glass, swirled it around with my finger and jumped back in. The ice cube definitely balanced everything out, but it wasn’t until the cube completely melted that I found it pleasantly drinkable. The light amber makes it a good candidate for mixed drinks or blender cocktails. I’ll end up drinking this bottle over time, but it is a really lackluster, anti-climactic drink. A decent price at $28, but nothing I’ll be breaking down doors to buy another bottle of.
I heard about this Haitian rum in the forums, which uses sugarcane instead of molasses and thought I would give it a try. I picked it up on sale for $18.99 which is a good price. I found it to be surprisingly good for the price. Nice color, good notes and quite smooth. I would definitely recommend this to anyone looking for a great rum at a great value.
I'm generally not a fan of agricoles. Others I've tried (and there have been several) have not appealed to me so I've not rated them. With that said, this is the best I've tasted and I like this one. It struck me as on the dry side but subtly sweet with a mild whisky-like flavor. Unfortunately, for my taste it's over-priced (around $30 US / 750 ml) where I can get it.
There's nothing wrong with this rum, it's well made and has a certain appeal. But there's nothing that jumps out and grabs you by the short and curlies and makes you go wow. The fruit is nicely balanced with the oak, and there is a nice kick from the alcohol which is warming and has good length. Normally I prefer to drink straight up at 40% but this at 43% is perfect.
UPDATE: Whenever I drink rum I let them breath in the glass for about 10 minutes. I did the same when I originally posted this rum and the initial results were such. However I had a feeling something was wrong with this batch as a whole, like the factory missed a mixing step. The smoke flavor was just way too high to be normal. I figured to get the smokey taste out would be just to stir it. So I poured the whole bottle in a pryex glass and put it on the stirrer and stirred for about 20 minutes. After having the whole room smell like a burning log I took it off the stirrer and tried it. MUCH better, the flavors are all there like they should be. Definitely can get the argicole taste now. And doesn't taste like a burning log anymore. Still not that good but enough to be enjoyable in a rum and coke.
I'm leaving the original review below \/
This is bad rum at all points. Opening the bottle it smells OK at best (kind of like a failed pusser's batch). Drinking it straight is okay for a millisecond (imagine a better tasting bacardi gold) and in comes a whoosh of harshness with so much smokey/tabacco flavor you mine as well suck the tail pipe of an 84' ford, there is only a faint hint of the grassy agricole part but that flushed out by the smokey too. In coke its much the same, it is less harsh but there is so much smoke flavor its not very good. It's not even a pleasant smoke like smoked jerky. It's more like the new guy left the space heater too close to the barrel and it caught them all on fire and they said "screw it we waited 8 years we are going to sell it anyway". Clement makes 100x better agricole. This could be good to marinate foods in for a smokey taste.
Note that this is comparable to a Martinique AOC Rhum at about half the price, and as such is going to have an unusual flavor due to its cane juice origin, as opposed to most rums which are made from molasses. The aging imparts a Cognac-like taste to it.
i don't remember the name of the Agricole that i had years ago, but i hated it. maybe it was too young, maybe i was too young, but it didn't taste like rum to me. i tend more towards the Jamaica style, more aged sipping rums. Then i tried this one neat (at Smuggler's Cove in SF - great place...). i really enjoyed the contrast of this one vs molasses based styles - grassy on the nose, herby and grassy notes on the initial taste, with a full flavor lingering taste experience. its not delicate, by any means, but reminded me of a fragrant sauvignon blanc (but obviously higher proof). i'd go back and try the Martinique Argicoles now after this one - nice change of pace but also stands on its own as very enjoyable.
Excellent on all fronts for sub $30. Bottled at 43% which makes it a great sipper. If I were to fault it I would say it's a bit generic and lacking a wow factor. But really it's far to good and enjoyable at it's price point to care about such a minor and petty thing.
It’s also an all around brown rum substitute. It can be perfectly used in any drink that calls out for brown rum.
Vic's recipe, according to B. Berry, calls for 2 rums: an aged agricole and a dark Jamaican. (There is some confusion about whether Barbancourt is truly an agricole, but the label says "100% sugar cane rum" and that's close enough for my standards). There isn't enough character or complexity for this to be a top-notch, stand-alone sipper, but it deserves respect (and an 8) for making authentic Mai-Tais shine like the sun.
"Barbancourt 5 Star rum review by the Ultimate Rum Guide"
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