Review: Damoiseau Rhum Vieux 12 Year Old

On February the 16th (2022) one of my favourite UK rum bars celebrated its 10 year anniversary. Milk Bar, which can be found conveniently close to the Reading train station, had an appropriate birthday party with a glorious tasting hosted by the rum heads from Skylark Spirits. Skylark Spirits are distributors of a variety of cane spirits brands, amongst which there is also the Damoiseau range.

There were 2 rums from Damoiseau in the tasting line-up, the Damoiseau Millesime 2009 (which is absolutely amazing) and the Damoiseau Rhum Vieux 12 Year Old which, according to the Skylark crew, it was the only bottle in the UK and trying it was a premiere for them too. After the the session ended, I was given the remains of this unavaiable bottling, and so I was given the chance to revisit it with a more… sober palate. I absolutely loved it at the time, so let’s see if it wasn’t just the previous alcohol’s influence.

Damoiseau Distillery is located in La Moule in the Guadeloupe archipelago, the only distillery situated in the Grande-Terra region and also the largest one, producing more than 50% of the island’s cane distillate. It was established in 1942 by Roger Damoiseau and today is ran by Herve Damoiseau.

They make rhum agricole, meaning is made from raw cane juice, is distilled via a column still in accordance with their GI and do not practice adulterating – not to be confused with the Martinique AOC Agricole, as the Guadeloupe one is a bit more loose – read everything about the differences in this write-up from the Cocktail Wonk.

Damoiseau Rhum Vieux 12 Year Old is cane juice based, fermented between 24 and 36 hours, column still distilled and aged for 12 years in 190 litres ex-Bourbon barrels (Buffalo Trace) in Guadeloupe. Bottled at 42% ABV without any additions.

On the nose there’s a burst of tropical fruits with savoury undertones. Mango, passion fruit, guava, bananas and green olives. Aromatic tobacco, pink grapefruit juice, burnt wood and a touch of gasoline. Strawberries and mint with some black pepper. Overall smells like a bubblegum-y Caroni… yep, I know what I said. Dusty old furniture and fresh ginger.

On the palate the wood influence is quite strong. Charred oak, black pepper, burnt popcorn and brown sugar. Caramelised pineapple, fresh passion fruit, mango and vanilla. Cardamom, red apples, green olives brine and strawberry jam. Ginger, lime juice and guava. There’s a lot going on here. Tobacco, old leather and a slight mineral-medicinal layer. The finish is long with peppermint, tropical fruits and some of bitterness.

This is really good and has quite the flavour intensity at just 42% ABV. My only complaint would be that the wood influence spikes too much sometimes during the tasting experience, giving it some slightly off-putting bitter notes.

All in all a very fine aged agricole rhum, too bad it’s not available on the UK market – but if it was I’ve been told it would’ve retailed between £75-£85. Realistically speaking, unfortunately the average British consumer is not that used to agricoles, especially at that price range so it makes sense that it isn’t distributed locally.

Damoiseau Rhum Vieux 12 Year Old score:
Flavour/taste: 55/70
Value for money: 14/15
Transparency/purity: 15/15
Overall: 84/100


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