At the beginning of July I’ve attended the German Rum Festival in Berlin and there were a couple of gems that caught my eye – these 2 bottlings from Isautier, Reunion island are two of those gems. In fact these are the only full bottles I purchased from the show in order to have a closer look and review them.
Isautier’s story starts in 1832 when Louis Isautier arrived on the Reunion island, joined in 1834 by his brother Charles. In 1845 they built a large distillery which is also the oldest rum distillery and business on the island today. When the brothers passed away, Charles’ widow, Antoinette took over the family business and built a new distillery. Another prominent figure in Isautier’s history was Alfred Isautier, Charles and Antoinette’s grandson. He modernised the current distillery by adding more efficient column stills and he also brought in their historical triangle bottles in 1910 which became synonymous with the brand’s identity at the time.
Isautier produces rums from both molasses and cane juice and they also have quite of an extensive range of flavoured expressions like arranges and bottled punches – and unsurprisingly the latter are their best sellers.
The Agent Double (or Double Agent in English… I know, right?) are two unaged offerings that are made from both agricultural rum (cane juice) and traditional rum (molasses), but at different, opposing ratios. The cane juice distillate came off the still at 71.1% ABV and the molasses one was distilled to 89% ABV before being blended and slowly reduced to 55% ABV.
Isautier Agent Double 01
Isautier Agent Double 01 is a blend of 35% molasses and 65% cane juice column still distillates that have been blended and then bottled at 55% ABV without any additives.
On the nose it feels like an agricole. Cane juice, freshly cut grass, refrigerated butter, gherkins and green olives. Pine tree, oregano, silica bags and toffee. I can feel the cane juice distillate, but the molasses is definitely around too. Biscuits, coconut water and ginger. Some white pepper and white cardboard too.
On the palate it feels very aromatic. Paint fumes, dill, cane juice, jara lemon and saffron. White pepper, moth balls and almonds. It tastes a little like a mezcal with medicinal notes rather than smokey. Toffee, fennel, blueberries and passion fruit. The finish is medium to long with herbaceous notes and passion fruit.
Very interesting and unique profile, the cane juice and molasses blend is surprisingly complex. Medicinal and sharp, yet soft with layers of butterscotch and coconut.
Isautier Agent Double 02
Isautier Agent Double 02 is a blend of 35% cane juice and 65% molasses column still distillates that have been blended and then bottled at 55% ABV without any additives.
On the nose the cane juice component is still the one standing out. Green olives, freshly cut grass, oregano and cardamom. Freshly printed paper, apricot liqueur, almonds and unripe bananas. So far this one seems a bit more fruity, balanced and less pungent. Saffron, Maraschino liqueur, coconut water and toffee too.
On the palate it isn’t very different from the 01. Dill, cane juice, jara lemon, saffron and blueberries. Fennel, cardamom, moth balls and toffee. It’s a bit softer and less sharp than the first one. Coconut water and passion fruit. The finish is medium to long with butterscotch and unripe tropical fruits.
More balanced and rounded than the first, but that took some of the complexity away for me as well. Definitely a tipple that’s easier to palate, but I do enjoy challenging tots more.
The differences between the two expressions are quite subtle, but they’re there and they make it very interesting to compare. The Agent Double 01 is the winner here for me, more unique, more intensity and just a little more complexity overall.
I have to say the cane juice and molasses blend is done incredibly well and they just layer perfectly with and against each other. Hopefully we’ll see more exciting things from Isautier soon, they’re clearly very capable of it – just bring them to the UK as well, please!
They seem to be priced at around €40 in France and I think that’s a fair price for these wonderful blends.
Naturally due to the overall cane juice distillate content I would make a Ti’ Punch with the 01, whereas the 02 would make an amazing Daiquiri. Will have to test this though!
Isautier Agent Double 01 score:
Value for money: 15/15
Isautier Agent Double 02 score:
Value for money: 15/15