Review: FAIR. Muscovado Rum Millesime 2016

Making sure you are supporting the right companies when you purchase something is very important nowadays, especially when it comes to them using ingredients and resources from countries with a developing economy. That’s exactly what Fairtrade is all about – a system of certification that aims to ensure a set of standards are met in the production and supply of a product or ingredient. For farmers and workers, Fairtrade means workers’ rights, safer working conditions and fairer pay. For shoppers it means high quality, ethically produced products. – Fairtrade website.

Fair Trade Spirits Co. (Ethical Wine & Spirits) are a French company that are bottling spirits/liqueurs while making sure they are all Fairtrade Certified – and they are also working on eliminating all plastic usage for their products by 2024.

They make various interesting spirits and liqueurs, and while their rum releases have been sourced (fairly) from other countries, this time the rum is made by them in Charente, France using unrefined Muscovado sugar from Mauritius. Now I’m not sure what was used to distill this, but they mention a single column still in their vodka and gin production so I’ll assume it’s the same for the rum – I also don’t know if they own a distillery or if they are collaborating with one when it comes to producing their spirits.

Now here is the question – is this actually rum? At least by EU law, rum cannot be made from processed sugar, but then it can be made from sugar cane syrup (reduced sugar cane juice). Muscovado sugar is quite similar to the likes of jaggery, rapadura or panela and is one of the most unrefined sugars available. It’s made by cooking the sugar cane juice to evaporate the liquid and cooling it down to form crystals. The main difference from more refined sugars is that the molasses resulted from the process is not removed, but it’s kept in the final product resulting in a moist, dark brown sugar.

It seems like a fine line, given it uses less-processed sugar along with molasses, but personally I’m not too nitpicky as long as it tastes like rum – I did give Nine Leaves a pass for using jaggery as the base material for their Encrypted III and it was absolutely delicious.

FAIR. Muscovado Rum Millesime 2016 uses unrefined Muscovado sugar as a base material and it’s distilled using (probably) a column still. Bottled at 55% ABV, free of adulteration and with a limited number of bottles available.

On the nose has quite an earthy aroma. Bell peppers, palm sugar, coriander and fresh ink. Iron, vanilla, biscuits and coconut water. Toffee, olive oil and a slight mineral note. Reminds me of UK white rums.

On the palate it becomes more intense due to the ABV. Palm sugar, lemon zest, toffee and fish oil (not in a rancid way). Cocoa biscuits, whipped cream, white pepper and green olives. Some coconut cream and floral honey. The finish is medium to long with cashews and biscuits.

This is a good unaged rum, although I’m pretty convinced that at a lower/more standard ABV it would’ve had a hard time being relevant. It’s well rounded with a nice mouthfeel and the ABV gives it a pleasant intensity. I personally bought it out of curiosity and it has been satisfied – there are bottles available for £43 (Master of Malt) if you’d like to give it a try.

FAIR. Muscovado Rum Millesime 2016 score:
Flavour/taste: 50/70
Value for money: 13/15
Transparency/purity: 14/15
Overall: 77/100


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