This is a wonderful rum and I would recommend anyone to buy it if they saw it. One of the intrigues, besides the incredible price and seldom seen region, is the 1988 research note from professor Fahrasmane which states that many of these rums featured fission yeast ferments:
What are we experiencing with this rum? Among many attributes, are we seeing the queen of all the yeasts?
Besides the possibility of a fission yeast, what else could we be experiencing? Is this rum from fresh undefecated cane juice or the drum syrup described by Kervegant? The aroma of this rum clearly displays the vesouté of fresh uncentrifuged and limed cane juice (also unconcentrated), but it is also different than those of Cape Verde. The flavour is much fuller and the birectifier analysis reveals droplets galore of Bauer oil. There is, however, no rum oil aroma from damascenone.
Vesouté was at one time held in disdain, but it is a character that I personally prize, having first experienced it in Cape Verde. To quote Kervegant:
Young rum of vesou is characterized, from the organoleptic point of view, by a particular aroma, called vesouté, recalling cane juice, but presenting, according to the marks, numerous nuances (sometimes the bouquet of marc eau-de-vie or juniper). Of very variable quality, according to the distilleries, and even for a distillery, according to the season, it generally has little body, a fine smell and flavor, of relatively low intensity and persistence.
The taste of “vesuoté” is accentuated by leaving the cut cane for a while before passing them to the mill: this practice was formerly used in the colony. Terroir is also important: canes produced in the hard, dry lands of southern Martinique produce heavier rum than those from the light and well watered lands of the North.
I have experienced vesouté rums of little body, but I would say that Clairin Sajous avoids that, developing notable persistence relative to the genre. Kervegant’s descriptions of fresh cane vesou rums segues into the very seldom seen but extremely prized cœur de chauffe:
A particular type of rum de vesou is the cœur de chauffe, more full-bodied and more aromatic than ordinary grappe blanche and whose fragrance recalls the eau-de-vie of juniper. Constituted by the first fractions of the distillate, it is rich in esters and higher alcohols. Produced in small quantities in a few small agricultural distilleries with discontinuous stills, it is consumed entirely on site.
Does Clairin Sajous have a foot in the door to rums as prized as cœur de chauffe? Before even re-referencing Kervegant, juniper was in my tasting notes for fraction 5.
This is a rum that also reminds me of some of Rafael Arroyo’s ideals. This could be the real “light rum” Arroyo sought to explore. It is light but at the same time singular and characterful by virtue of raw material and fermentation technique rather than by excessive stripping via high proof distillation.
We end up with a lot of open questions we cannot resolve until we get more information from the producer. This is also not any kind of review, but I will say, buy what you can because Clarin Sajous rings all the bells and is likely to ascend in price.
Stated ABV on the label is 56.5%, but the spirit measured just over 60% by hydrometer.
Fraction 1: Concentrated to the point of non-culinary aromas, but not overly heavy.
Fraction 2: Far less concentrated. Not exactly fruity.
Fraction 3: Fairly neutral as expected.
Fraction 4: Definite aroma of fusel oil, but not exactly a wraith. No clear idea where fusel oil alludes to a fission or budding yeast.
Fraction 5: Oil droplets all over the surface. The aroma here is far more complex than I imagined almost feels like it has intersecting facets. There is almost a green and delicate gin like pininess. Then there is a rounder ester aroma. I have only ever surveyed one rum before that had the vesouté aroma and I’m not sure if it is responsible for the fresh top notes you get here. I remember that other rum did not have so much depth to its fraction 5 as this one. There is a subtle acridness on the palate, likely from concentrated esters. In general this fraction 5 is far less concentrated than that of the heavier Jamaica rums and there is no distinct rum oil.
Fraction 6: Fairly neutral, but a little more aroma noticeable. No overly distinct gustatory acidity. Very unique droplets all over the surface, something I have not seen before. Hard to say if it is a oil drop or precipitated floating crystalline structure I’ve observed in other distillates.
Fraction 7: Fairly neutral. No significant gustatory acidity. However, oil droplets present on surface of the fraction.
Fraction 8: Fairly neutral. No significant gustatory acidity. However, oil droplets present on surface of the fraction.
Stillage: (0.543 g/L)