Review: Kaniche XO Artisanal Rum

I like bourbon, I like Cognac, and I like rum. So it goes a bit without saying that I was thrilled to find a distiller putting all three of those components together in one bottle. I just hope that the contents of said bottle are more appealing than the packaging.


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History

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.

Product

There is no website, nor are there 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.

This 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 additionally finished in previously used Cognac casks for a year and a half (6 months more than their “Reserve” line).

Packaging

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).

I’ll also note that there’s another sticker here proudly proclaiming this to be “Double Wood” aged. But all of their rums are — this is no different from the rest of their line in that respect. This is just aged longer, that’s all. It’s a little misleading when you’re trying to pick between the variations.

It’s not actively offensive in terms of a design… it just isn’t very good.

Neat

This is a good bit darker in color than the Reserve bottle from Kaniche, which is a bit surprising given that it only sat in a barrel for an additional six months. I’d almost call it suspiciously dark, and wonder if there might be some artificial coloring going on here.

The aroma coming off the glass is sweet and rich. Up front, I’m getting a lot of tropical fruit such as pineapple and banana, but with a generous helping of brown sugar. Just behind that are some nice vanilla and baking spices aromas — probably from the barrel aging that add complexity to the profile. So far, it’s all working together nicely.

Taking a sip, this is like an interesting bourbon-ish take on a pina colada. The first thing I get — which lingers for quite a while — is the vanilla from the barrel aging. This is then backed up by the brown sugar sweetness, and then, after a beat, the tropical fruit joins the party with that pineapple. The banana is really an afterthought here. And then I do get a bit of cocoanut, which is where the “pina colada” association comes to mind. From there, the baking spices add some complexity and those barrel aging components of vanilla and baking spices are really what lingers on the finish.

It’s smooth, sweet, fruity, and dangerous.

On Ice

In the less well-aged version of this spirit, the barrel aging components completely dropped out of the running when the ice was added into the glass. This time, I think the barrel aging has done a better job sticking around — while the fruity components are still there, I think the timeline in which they appear is significantly shorter.

Taken neat, there’s a distinct beat between when the vanilla and the barrel aging components appear and then when the fruit starts to make their entrance. It’s a nice progression that lets you savor each distinct component and I like it. Here, you’re getting pretty much all the same flavors, but they are piled on top of each other and a little washed out from the added dilution.

It’s definitely not bad. And the baking spices are still present, which is something the Reserve version failed to accomplish.

Fizz (Dark and Stormy)

This isn’t dark and stormy in the usual way you’d expect. With a more typical black rum, you’d see a bunch of added spices and flavorings that really do the heavy lifting. However, here it’s the barrel aging components that are making it work all on their own.

With this cocktail, you start out with some good balance between the bright and cheerful ginger beer against the richer barrel aging components — things like vanilla and brown sugar. It’s delicious in its own right, but then the tropical fruits like pineapple and banana jump in to truly make this a tropical drink. Throw in a splash of baking spices at the end and this really feels like a summer vacation drink.


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Overall Rating

This is a rum that surprisingly punches above its weight. Tropical, fruity, and delicious, it provides all the flavors you want without any bitterness or bite. Add in the fact that it is practically dirt cheap, and you’ve got yourself a winner. I really just wish that we had more info about the production of the spirit itself.

Kaniche XO Artisanal Rum
Produced By: Kaniche
Production Location: Barbados
Classification: Rum
Aging: No Age Statement (NAS)
Proof: 40% ABV
Price: $29.99 / 750 ml
Product Website: Product Website
Overall Rating:
All reviews are evaluated within the context of their specific spirit classification as specified above. Click here to check out similar spirits we have reviewed.

Overall Rating: 4.5/5
A well aged tropical rum that works no matter how you take it.


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