Neisson are a producer of Rhum Agricole from Martinique. The Extra Vieux is one of Neisson’s aged products. The company also produces a number of white rhums.
Unlike many rum producers they actually grow their own sugar cane on site. This is fairly common amongst Agricole producers due to the production methods required.
On the Neisson website they have a video which takes you right through the Rhum making process. Right from cutting of the Cane through to the bottling.
Neisson rhum is part of the AOC system. Which is as follows
Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC). The French equivalent to EU’s Protected Designation of Origin (PDO).
Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) is one of the geographical indications defined in European Union law to protect the names of regional foods. The law ensures that only products genuinely originating in that region are allowed in commerce as such. The purpose of the law is to protect the reputation of the regional foods and eliminate the unfair competition and misleading of consumers by non-genuine products, which may be of inferior quality or of different flavour.
Neisson’s VO (or XO) rhum is bottled at 45% ABV. It is aged for 12-24 months initially in new French oak casks. It is then moved into used Bourbon barrels for maturation between 6 to 8 years. Neisson isn’t all that readily available in the UK and a bottle of this rhum will set you back around £60 for a 70cl bottle.
In the glass the rhum is a nice amber colour. The nose is quite light and nowhere near as grassy or vegetal as I have experienced in the past. The nose is quite fruity and pretty sweet. It’s not a big or an intense nose its quite gentle. It has an almost Bourbon like note to it in that it is slightly sweet/sour. It’s perhaps reminiscent a little of Barbancourt 5 star.
In the mouth the rhum is unmistakably a cane juice rhum but like Barbancourt it has a smoothness which is reminiscent of Cognac.
It is sweet and warming and has a brown sugar like sweetness to it. The sweet notes are also quite grape/wine like. There is a really nice oaked feel to this rhum. It is beautifully balanced along with the sweetness. The only bad point to make is that the taste of this rhum is quite short. You get a nice burst of sweet flavour along with the nice Bourbon oak notes. However, they quickly fade. The finish despite being initially more robust and spicy than I expected, doesn’t last too long. The finish is where you will notice the more familiar grassy/vegetal agricole notes.
Which I think are re-assuring – you’ve bought an Agricole rhum so I suppose you have a right to expect some of the “cane juice” to be evident in the mix.
It is easy to be put off Agricole Rhum. Like most things, say beer for example it can take a while for your palate to adjust to it and appreciate it. It is also worth noting that a well aged Agricole is very different to the younger white Agricoles which are so popular for mixing in Ti Punch etc.
This Neisson offers a much more refined and more complex experience. If you are only really familiar with molasses based rums then this may still seem a little odd but it is worth persisting with. There is a definite progression between this and some of the other younger Agricole rhums I have tried in the past.