Review: Plantation Fiji 2009

Plantation Fiji 2009 is what I am writing about today. I have to be honest, I don’t have experience with Fiji rums, this being one of the reasons I bought it, but I do have experience with Plantation. Plantation is owned by Maison Ferrand which was founded by Alexandre Gabriel in 1989. They are mainly cognac producers, but they also distill gin and bottle rum – Plantation Rums being introduced in 1999. Although they recently acquired West Indies Rum Distillery (Barbados), they source their rums from other distilleries, letting them to age in the tropics and then bringing them to Chateau de Bonbonnet in France to finish them in Ferrand French oak casks, the finishing process being one of the things that make their rums unique.

Having roots in the cognac making craft, Plantation is no stranger to “dosage” – the adding of sweeteners to their rums. While they are not denying it, and in some instances they do actually reveal on the website if the rum is adulterated, it is still frowned upon – understandable. I’ve been told that the dosage they use it’s a bit more complicated than “add sugar”, being a cognac style dosage. While I do not know much about cognac production, I’ll tell you what I understood: it’s toasted sugar syrup fortified with the same rum that’s intended for, and then barrel aged to match the age of the product. Interesting, but they also have products that have nothing added and more to come, like the one in my picture: Plantation Fiji.

Plantation Fiji 2009 it’s part of their Vintage Collection and it’s a limited edition bottling. If you go to their website you can find a lot of information about most of their bottles, including this one, but I’ll write it down here too: it’s made out of molasses left to ferment for 4-5 days and then pot and column still distilled at the South Pacific Distillery in 2009, left to mature for 7 years in 200 liters ex-Bourbon casks in the Fiji Islands and then brought to Chateau de Borbonnet, France to be finished for another 2 years in 350 liters Ferrand casks and finally bottled at 44,8% ABV.

Let’s pick up the glass and check what’s in it… I do have a cold, but when that ever stopped me. I see why the 4-5 days fermentation period now; on the nose it’s like oak covered in mold, quite fruity – banana, peach, strawberries with some earthy notes, like you’re picking them now. Some cocoa and nutmeg too. Yum!

On the palate… ugh, it has a bite to it, even at just 44,8% ABV! It is fruity, but not as rich as the nose was telling me, I get some estery fruit salad with bananas, pineapples and even mango, but I also get some red apples and… grapes(!? – maybe, I hope I am not just looking for them because of the cognac finish). There is a certain oak spice to it, some nuttiness, hints of caramel and sea salt, dare I say… salted caramel – although less sweet. On the finish there is a smoke, like toasted oak lingering for a bit, coffee beans and maybe the tiniest bit of dark chocolate (it fades out pretty quick).

Now the first time I tried Plantation it was with their Stiggin’s Fancy Pineapple followed by their 5 Year Old and those are noticeable sweeter than this one. While I can still feel the cognac finish fruitiness, I can also easily notice the absence of dosage. I am not trying to defend them, but I can see why they are doing it, it does bring out the fruity notes from their Ferrand Casks finishes although it dampens the rum flavour. Also they are one of the few rum brands that -even if remotely- are admitting that they do adulterate their rums, and apparently there are plans for even more transparency on the future releases, something I do respect them for. Plantation Fiji 2009 it’s quite unique, and the more I have it the more it grows on me, I’ll have to be honest, the balance might be a bit off, giving the sting that I got after the first sip, but if you give your mouth some time to accommodate with it, you can get past that and find a nice savory juice.

Plantation Fiji 2009 score:
Flavour/taste: 49/70
Value for money: 12/15
Transparency/purity: 15/15
Overall: 76/100


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