One of the better perks of running a spirits review site is discovering niche, unique, or small-distribution labels that I’ve never heard of before. When you’ve seen almost everything, anything interesting and off the beaten path is sure to get a second look. Which is how I stumbled across Kaniche rum and knew I needed to give it a shot.
Founded in 1989 by Alexandre Gabriel, Maison Ferrand (located in the 18th century Château de Bonbonnet in Ars) is a French producer of spirits that has been a bit of a trailblazer. Thanks to their efforts, Maison Ferrand enabled the French Cognac region to be able to distill their own form of gin during the “down months” of the Cognac season, and has since expanded into other forms of distilled spirits as well.
In 1999, Maison Ferrand introduced the Plantation Rum line, which is produced and aged once in the Caribbean before being loaded onto ships and aged a second time onsite at Château de Bonbonnet. Building on that success, in 2017 the company purchased the West Indies Rum Distillery in Barbados and expanded into new lines of rum including Kaniche.
- Learn More: What Is Rum?
There isn’t a website or any marketing materials for this rum, but we do have some understanding of how spirits are made at the West Indies Rum Distillery in Barbados (which is where this appears to originate).
That facility starts with molasses sourced from Guyana, Barbados, and Mexico as the raw ingredient. Molasses is the waste product from sugar manufacturing, filled with impurities but with just enough sugar to be useful to a distillery. The molasses is added to water in a giant vat and fermented to about 8% ABV.
That mildly alcoholic liquid is then pumped into the distillery’s column or continuous stills, which concentrates the alcohol and removes the undesirable elements. According to some reports, the waste product from the distillation process (including things like solvents and other alcohol related components) is pumped via a pipeline 2 kilometers out to sea where it is then dumped into the open ocean.
According to the product details, this rum is then aged in previously used bourbon casks in Barbados for an undisclosed period of time before being finished in previously used Cognac casks for a year.
This is a pretty common shape for a liquor bottle, although it’s a bit tall and slender compared to the most bottles of this shape. It does have that typical wine bottle shape, but with straight walls and a slimmer profile. There’s a rounded shoulder that leads to a medium length straight neck, and the whole thing is capped off with a plastic stopper.
As for the label, this unfortunately hits my pet peeve of just being a huge waste of space. It’s a gigantic sticker that’s been plastered on the front of this thing, and the vast and overwhelming majority of the space is simply wasted. There’s no effort put in to add some artwork or interesting designs, though — it’s just plain old sticker with some ragged edges (to add the impression of aged parchment, which is just unnecessary).
It’s not actively offensive in terms of a design… it just isn’t very good.
This smells sweet and delicious. I’m getting the usual herbaceous sugar cane notes in the aroma, but there’s more going on here than you would usually expect. There’s a lot of tropical fruit (banana, pineapple, mango) which is pretty common in a rum, and some good bourbon aspects from the aging process (caramel, vanilla, baking spices) — but there’s also some apricot and grape in here that I’d normally associate more with a Cognac than a rum. You’d think all of these disparate aromas would have trouble fitting together, but the combination is actually pretty darn good.
Those aromas translate very nicely into the flavor. The tropical fruits are still up front, with the banana and pineapple taking the lead, and there might also be some cocoanut in there. This is all followed pretty quickly by some vanilla and baking spices, and I think those baking spices especially really elevate what’s going on here and give the spirit a bit more complexity. From there, expect some brown sugar (like you’d expect from molasses), but there isn’t a whole lot of the Cognac component showing up. The grapes and apricot we saw so clearly in the aroma seem to get a bit lost in the mix.
On the finish, there’s just a tiny hint of bitterness, but otherwise it finishes fairly quickly with that brown sugar and fruit combination.
I’d expect that the lighter and fruitier notes would be the ones to drop out of the running as soon as we added ice, but in this case it’s actually the bourbon barrel notes that disappear.
Once the ice goes in, the fruit really sings. The pineapple and banana flavors are big and bold, and I’m not mad about it. It’s a pleasant flavor, but the problem is that it’s very one note at this point. Those bourbon barrel components added depth and complexity to the flavor profile thanks to the baking spices and vanilla — so without it, this drink is a bit boring. Still fruity and delicious, but just a shadow of what it was only a few minutes before.
Fizz (Dark and Stormy)
Well, testing this on ice was a really good indication of how this cocktail would turn out.
It’s fruity and tropical and sweet — something you’d want to sip all day long on a beach somewhere. The only issue for me is that, again, there’s not really much depth to the flavors. I would have loved to see more of those baking spices come through and contribute here; if that were the case, I think that would have been a truly A+ cocktail. But as is, it ain’t bad at all.
I was expecting a whole lot less from a store brand rum that doesn’t even have a website — but this is fruity and delicious with some interesting bourbon barrel related twists.
All that said, I honestly can’t really see where the benefit of the Cognac cask came in. I don’t think it added much to the experience. But, it also sure didn’t hurt. And I’m looking forward to seeing what the rest of this line of rums has to offer.
|Kaniche Reserve Rum|
Produced By: KanicheProduction Location: Barbados
Aging: No Age Statement (NAS)
Proof: 40% ABV
Price: $16.99 / 750 ml
Product Website: Product Website
Overall Rating: 4/5
A tropical, fruity, and delicious rum that is good sipped neat or in a tropical cocktail.