Review: Rhum Bologne Blanc 55

Distillerie Bologne is situated on the Island of Guadeloupe on the western wing, called Basse-Terre, which features green, fertile vulcanic hills. The distillery is located in south-west of the Basse-Terre region, in the capital city of the island… also called Basse-Terre.

De Bolognes were a Protestant family from the Dauphine region of France who migrated to Holland. Some of the family members were settled in Brazil from 1580 where they were cultivating and trading sugar. When Portugal recaptured the territory in 1640 De Bolognes were driven away and eventually they ended up in Guadeloupe in 1654 where they re-started the sugar producing and reconstructed their property.

The Bologne estate had some trying periods across the years and on May 26th 1830 it was sold to Jean-Antoine Amel-Noel who was the first free-born man of colour to own an estate so big. He died in 1850 and was buried on the property. Once again in 1873 it was sold to a company called Le Dentu Cie which modernized the operations considerably with machinery that tripled the efficiency of the sugar crystallisation process and built rail tracks for the sugar cane transport.

In 1887, the year in which, according to their website, it became a distillery, the factory was once again sold until it ended up with Louis Sargenton-Callard who purchased the house and the grounds on the 3rd of November 1930. He was the one who specialised the estate in rhum agricole production due to the sugar export becoming unprofitable at the end of the 19th century. The distillery remained in the hands of the Sargenton-Callard family since.

A little bit of history there I’d say, many thanks to Google Translate who aided me in deciphering some of their website where my secondary school French lessons failed me.

One interesting fact about Distillerie Bologne is that they distill the sugar cane juice in their copper column stills only up to 55%-60% ABV, therefore retaining much of the sugar cane profile. I’m excited to try it due to the potential terroir expressed by the sugar cane being grown on vulcanic fertile grounds with salty sea air influences and brought down to bottling strength with pure spring water. Also my rhum is 55% ABV therefore it could potentially be “still strength” with no or little water added to it.

Rhum Bologne Blanc 55 is sugar cane juice based, fermented for 24 to 48 hours and then copper column distilled up to 60% ABV. Rested in oak vats for up to 6 months and bottled at 55% ABV free of any additives as per the Guadeloupe rhum agricole GI.

On the nose there are some lovely vegetal notes. Coriander, sugar cane juice, green bell pepper, lime leaves and coconut water. A touch of grapefruit zest and white pepper. Some dusty mint leaves and fresh lime juice. Nice and raw!

On the palate its “rawness” comes through even more. Hot green chilli, coriander, camomile tea, olive brine, fresh pineapple and bitter lettuce. Coconut cream, a touch of vanilla, Thai basil and cardamom. I almost want to use this in my green curry. Some agave syrup, boiled corn and blue cheese as well. If I were to assign a colour to the flavour profile (synaesthesia ftw!) I’d say teal green would be appropriate. The finish is medium to long with blue cheese and a bitter lemon zest note.

Definitely one of the more “wild” agricoles I’ve tried. Not Clairin-raw, but I still find this to be a savoury-hot-vegetal explosion of sugar cane flavours and, while it might a bit of a slap-on-the-tongue neat, I would happily mix this in a nice, hefty punch. My only complaint would be that there’s a slight bitterness on the finish, but nothing major. Can be found at £29 for 700ml or £35 for 1 litre of the 50% ABV one on Amazon – I’ll just need to buy some limes and pineapple juice now…

Rhum Bologne Blanc 55 score:
Flavour/taste: 50/70
Value for money: 15/15
Transparency/purity: 15/15
Overall: 80/100


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