Aguardente de Cana Rum Agricola da Madeira Calheta

Aguardente de Cana Rum Agricola da Madeira Calheta Rum Rhum Review by the fat rum pirateAguardente de Cana Rum Agricola da Madeira Calheta. I found this in a small liquor store in Funchal, Madeira last summer. I’d not seen or heard of the brand before so it was an immediate purchase.

I always figure when faced with such rums in far flung locations it’s worth picking a bottle up if the price is reasonable. You may never get the chance to try it again.

At €11 for a 1 litre bottle I figured it was worth a try. At the worst it would end up being imbided in mixed drinks. As you can see from the bottle I wasn’t buying this in the expectation of finding some rare and exotic ultra sipping rum. It is bottled at a fiery 50% ABV

Rum da Agricola has a protected Geographical Indicator (GI) recognised by the EU since 2011 and they can officially refer to their rhum as “Rhum Agricole”. I have reviewed a few independent bottlings of Rum da Agricola and I have a lot more “offiical” bottlings from the distilleries housed on Maderia, lined up to review.

Unlike the William Hinton brand, which is made at Engenho Novo da Maderia distillery and the O Reizinho brand, I have not seen any rum from the Calheta brand/distillery outside of Madeira. It is available online here unfortunately shipping costs to the UK are more than the cost of the bottle.

Engenhos da Calheta is situtated further up the west cost of the island than the capital Funchal. It is practically at the opposite end of the island. As per Trip Advisor they do very well received tours of the sugar cane factory and distillery. All the rhum produced at Engenhos da Calheta is made from sugar cane grown on the estate. It is produced from fresh Sugar Cane Juice and distilled on Copper Column Stills. Some of which are over 100 years old. From what I can gather they produce all their rhum once a year. They do not have a website only a Facebook page (in Portuguese)

There are various articles online about the distillery/visitor centre but frustratingly little about the actual rums they sell. One article notes that Aguardente de Cana from Calheta is the “best” for drinking in a Poncha.

For those unfamiliar with Poncha it is a drink, similar to a Caiprinha (a Caiprinha is actually based on Poncha) it is a mixture of Aguardente de Cana (from fresh sugar cane juice) and honey, sugar with either lime or orange juice to give a citrus kick.

I found one website which has this rhum for sale here. Unfortunately again no information on the actual rhum. From what I gather it is 100% unaged.

So lets see how this one goes down then………..Aguardente de Cana Rum Agricola da Madeira Calheta Rum Rhum Review by the fat rum pirate

First up like the first time you pour out a Wray and Nephew White Overproof your nose will get a bit twitchy. Your other half if she is a vodka drinker might ask (in a slightly less polite manner) “what that strange white spirit could possibly be, pray tell?”

It’s pungent. A mixture of ethanol, sugar cane, freshly mowed fields, diesel oil and green olives. And guess what? It’s bloody lovely.

With a little time in the glass the more grassy, vegetal notes calm down a little you can perhaps only now smell it as 5 paces rather than 10. It’s the kind of drink you would imagine the locals giving to stupid, mouthy, drunken British tourists to shut them up…….

Despite the highly boozy nature of Aguardente de Cana Rum Agricola da Madeira Calheta (and the fact it can’t quite decide if it’s an Aguardente or an Agricole on the label), this is a really nice, big, juicy and very vegetal spirit. It’s very fresh and clean. It also has a good note of sweetness which adds a bit of balance.

Sipping wise, it takes a good few sips to get used to it. It is a bit boozy and a bit rough around the edges. The sweetness and the grassy notes in particular are taken over initially by the boozy notes. It takes a bit of a swig and a little rest before you can really start to appreciate this.

It’s almost as if your whole mouth needs to be disinfected with its boozy charms before it will let you appreciate the sugar cane flavour again.

So once you are more accustomed to this you start to notice a more mineraly and more stony quality. Especially on the mid palate and the finish. Finish wise I wouldn’t say it is long in terms of development but you are certainly left with a long and very vegetal after taste. I’ll be brushing my teeth after this.

In all fairness as sipper it is fairly brutal and does need some water to calm it all down. It’s young and unaged and whilst the ABV isn’t that high to hardcore masochists, it will be more than too much for a lot of people. I enjoyed it more with a few drops of water.

Aguardente de Cana Rum Agricola da Maderia Calheta is similar, in many ways to Clairin. So it’s probably going to be a bit of a marmite experience for many rum drinkers.

I dare say if Luca Gargano bottled this many rum snobs would be falling over themselves to try it and then raving about it. As it stands I’m probably going to be pretty much the only reviewer that ever reviews this.Aguardente de Cana Rum Agricola da Madeira Calheta Rum Rhum Review by the fat rum pirate

Let’s be fair it looks pretty shit. If it was going to be made available outside the island they would have to update the presentation.

When this rhum/aguardente comes alive is when it is mixed. It is like a really good white agricole rhum from the likes of Guadeloupe and Martinique. It doesn’t have to be flashy or expensive to do it’s job.

As the locals have said in drinks like Poncha it excels. A Caiprinha is excellent. Even with just some lemonade and ice it is great adding loads of vegetal flavours and bright vibrant sugar cane notes. All helped over with a good bit boozy “menace” that I always like. This is the kind of drink that you know is going to involve a paracetamol or two the next day. It’s boozy but all the more addictive and drinkable for it.

Aguardente de Cana Rum Agricola da Madeira Calheta was well worth the €11 I paid and with the end of this sample I’m sorry to see the bottle gone. Maybe another visit to Madeira……





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One comment on “Aguardente de Cana Rum Agricola da Madeira Calheta

  1. Damn… sounds like a hidden gem. Nice!

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