Last summer I’ve been on a trip to Nice, France and while browsing supermarkets I’ve seen this rum quite a few times at a very cheap price. I couldn’t bring any with me due to my lack of luggage, but a I asked a very close person of mine to bring me one of the small bottles and she delivered. Now I’m in the possession of a 20cl bottle of Rhum Negrita so I have to review it.
First, let’s address the elephant in the room, the branding. “Negrita” is a Spanish slang term for a beautiful black woman and the black girl illustration on the label is apparently the oldest character in French advertising (thank you, Lone Caner!) – not surprising given the brand debuted in 1886. Considering the meaning and heritage behind the branding I’m not sure how inappropriate this is, but it does have the potential to be associated to slavery, at least at first sight. I don’t consider myself qualified enough to state if this is right or wrong, all I can say is that a conversation should be had at the very least.
Now with that being somehow covered, let’s talk about the rum. Rhum Negrita was originally made by Bardinet, a company established in 1857 in the south of France by Paul Bardinet who started blending rums from the Caribbean and selling them. In 1993 the Berdinet company joined La Martiniquise and so forming the La Martiniquaise-Bardinet, a big French company that deas with various spirits and liqueurs.
The Negrita range consists of a Dark Signature, a White Signature, an Anejto Reserve and a Spiced. While my little 20cl bottle doesn’t carry any of these monikers on the label, it’s safe to assume it’s the smaller version of the Dark Signature. Not much information on the rum itself can be found, the label only states “Isles Francais Du Rhum” which translates as “French Rum Islands” and the website only mentions that is a blend of rums from the Caribbean… so anything can go really. It doesn’t really carry the agricole appelation either, meaning it has stuff added (most likely caramel) and/or there are molasses rums in here as well – I do know it contains cane juice distillates based on its flavour profile.
Edit: I’ve been vehemently told by the French population on social media that this is a “pancakes rum” or “kitchen rum” and not made for drinking. Now despite the fact that is sold in flasks, which would suggest otherwise, even if it was only meant for cooking, it’s still a rum I found in the alcohol section so I’ll review it accordingly.
So Rhum Negrita is cane juice based with maybe some molasses rum added, column still distilled (no idea of any potential pot still distillates) and aged for an unknown amount of time in an unknown type of barrel. Bottled at 40% ABV with at least some caramel added due to its colour.
On the nose it a weird smell, like it’s gone off. Damp cardboard, pickle juice, sea water and dark chocolate. Some faint charred oak and sulphur. Its profile is weirdly salty and I can’t feel much of anything else. Black pepper, canned plums and a hint of cloves.
On the palate there’s a bit more flavour. Pickle juice, ground coffee, dark chocolate and caramel. Blackberries, cloves and sea salt. It’s still weirdly savoury and not in a great way. Some dry sherry, white grapes and white grapefruit. The finish is short with bad black coffee and sea salt.
As expected, this is quite bland and it frankly tastes cheap. No real character and the taste is just terrible – it just doesn’t stand a chance to any real French agricole rhum. It’s like France’s equivalent of Lamb’s Navy Rum, but even worse if you ask me. This is a bad rum with a questionable marketing.
It is quite affordable I’ll give it that, at least in France anyway.
Rhum Negrita Bardinet score:
Value for money: 10/15