Calling your bottle of spirits “Three Stars” is a bold move… but not necessarily a good idea. The immediate connotation is to the quality of the spirits — in which case, three stars doesn’t seem quite as good as five. When we’ve tested similarly branded bottles (like Two Star Bourbon) in the past, we found that the stars on the bottle pretty well matched the stars on our rating, but we wanted to find out if that held true here as well.
Alexandre Gabriel was born the grandson of a wine grower in Burgundy, France. He worked on his family farm as a child and eventually went to the United States to study business. On returning to France, he started working with smaller local French wine makers, helping them improve their businesses.
One of those smaller local French businesses was the house of Pierre Ferrand, called Maison Ferrand. Originally founded in 1630 and nestled in the heart of the Cognac region, the facility had fallen on hard times and in 1989 Alexandre was offered a share of the business to help them improve. Within two years, he would own the facility outright and start looking for opportunities to expand.
In an effort to squeeze some extra profit out of his cognac production business, Alexandre visited the Caribbean and started selling his used cognac casks to rum distilleries for them to mature and finish their rums in. During this time, Alexandre gained an appreciation for the distilled spirit and saw an opportunity for a line of rums that focuses heavily on the idea of terroir (the concept that a spirit or a wine should taste like the location where it originated).
To fuel this new rum business, Alexandre purchased stakes in various rum distilleries around the region such as National Rum of Jamaica, Clarendon Distillery, and Long Pond Distillery, as well as purchasing outright the West Indies Rum Distillery. These distilleries produce the raw spirits used to create Maison Ferrand’s Plantation line of rum.
- Learn More: What Is Rum?
This rum is a blend of three different strains, produced at Maison Ferrand’s Caribbean distilleries and combined to create the desired flavor profile. Hence the “Three Stars” branding, which is actually a nod to the three production locations for this spirit.
For all three strains, the spirit starts out as raw molasses, which is the leftover residue from sugar production. All of the “good” sugar is boiled off and extracted, leaving a bit of residual sugar and impurities behind. That molasses is added to water and allowed to ferment to create a mildly alcoholic mixture — a relatively short three day fermentation for the Barbados and Trinidad versions, but a longer two weeks for the Jamaican version to allow it to build up more of the traditional Jamaican funky flavor characteristics.
After fermentation, the spirit is distilled in a combination of column stills and pot stills to create the raw rum. The Barbados rum is blended in straight away without aging, while the Trinidad sourced rum is aged for 2 to 3 years before it can be included. The Jamaican spirits are mostly unaged, but a touch of older 10 year old Jamaican rum is also included.
After blending the spirit is bottled with 9 grams per liter of sugar added and shipped for sale.
In general, this bottle follows the common pattern of liquor bottles: round, cylindrical body that flares slightly from the base to the shoulder, a rounded shoulder, a medium length neck with a bulge in the middle, and then capped off with a cork and synthetic stopper. I do want to note that the brand name and logo is embossed into the bottle itself, meaning that this was a custom mold for the bottle and not just something picked off a distributor’s shelves, which is a nice touch.
As for the label, most of what they’re doing works for me. I like the aged and tattered look to the label itself, giving it almost a shipwrecked Caribbean sailing vibe mixed with the formatting of old newspaper. The label is a bit large for my taste, but given that the spirits inside are clear as water, there really isn’t anything its covering up so I’ll give that a pass.
What I’m really going to poke at here is the brand name and the way it is displayed. Not only is it labeled “Three Star”, but those three stars are left justified on the label. The impression this gives (however misleading it may be) is that there is the possibility for more stars that simply weren’t awarded to this bottle. That this is, at best, mediocre on a five star scale — and at worst, terrible on a ten star scale. I understand after reading the label that the stars represent the locations where it was distilled, but the name combined the way the stars are designed gives the at-a-glance impression that it’s talking about the quality of the spirits in an unflattering way.
Which is definitely not something I’d want to proudly display on my bar or in my cabinet. Especially since, as a bartender, if I listed it as an ingredient in my cocktails I’d have to explain the concept every time to reassure patrons that I wasn’t pumping the stuff out of an unlabeled 55 gallon drum.
This smells pretty nice for a white rum. With many white rums, you’ll sometimes only get a couple of aromas and then some hard raw and industrial alcohol, especially with mass produced or column distilled versions. But here, I’m getting that nice raw sugar and marshmallow aroma, some tropical fruits like pineapple and banana, and a touch of Jamaican hogo funk to add some character. It’s a very appealing combination.
There’s a ton of flavor in here, as well, and those aromas translate perfectly into the glass. Up front, I’m getting that sweet processed white sugar and marshmallow, followed by a bit of banana and pineapple, some coconut thrown in for that smooth texture and sweetness, and just a touch of raw sugar on the finish adding a hint of herbaceousness. It reminds me a lot of other Caribbean rums that we’ve tried that were flavorful and delicious, just understandably without any of the maturation notes like vanilla or caramel.
If I have one complaint, it’s that there’s just a tiny hint of bitterness in the middle of the flavor profile. It stands out right in the center of your tongue and makes a bit of noise, probably a result of the highly refined alcohol content. It isn’t as industrial as you’d find in other unaged spirits, but it is there.
Usually, lighter and fruitier notes (especially those that come from the fermentation and distillation steps, like most of what we see here) will disappear with a bit of ice. Those flavors typically aren’t well saturated and fall out of the running when they hit a bit of resistance. Thankfully, though, in this case the flavors all seem to be saturated well enough to stick around and keep the party going despite the addition of the ice.
The one change I do see to the profile is that the raw sugar and marshmallow components have fallen to the wayside. This still tastes sweet and delicious, but it’s the tropical fruit doing most of the hard work. Banana, pineapple, coconut, and some mango even all combine to make the flavor profile equivalent of Chiquita Banana’s hat.
Fizz (Dark & Stormy)
The biggest challenge you can throw at a rum of any kind is putting it into a Dark & Stormy. This drink is basically a mule — a combination of lime juice, ginger beer, and spirits — made with rum. There are plenty of loud and contrasting flavors in this combination, and threading the needle for the rum remain noticeable but balanced is a tough bar to clear.
This, in my opinion, does as well as you could hope for a white rum. I usually expect the barrel maturation flavors in a dark rum to do the majority of the work balancing out the bright ginger beer and lime juice, but thankfully there’s enough tropical fruit and raw sugar in this white rum to do the job instead. It isn’t perfect — there is a bit of a sour bite from the lime juice that remains still untamed — but it’s doing a damn fine job in this cocktail. The fact that those flavors can come through and make themselves known in this format really says a lot about their strength and saturation.
Given how well this works, I’d say that this might be the best white rum we’ve ever tested to use in a cocktail.
We just reviewed Stade’s Rum Barbados Bond #8, which is owned by the same company (Maison Ferrand), and this honestly tastes very similar — there are a lot of the same fruity flavors and interesting components at play, just without all of the barrel maturation components. The result works really well.
This is the best white rum we’ve reviewed to date — but also the most expensive white rum we’ve reviewed. Typically, white rums are a bit on the cheaper side due to the lack of maturation and the ease with which they can be produced, but this bottle seems to be an instance in which they actually took their time and created a good flavor profile from the three constituent strains.
I’d like to see this just a touch more refined and smoother when taken on its own, but this is defnitely a competent and delicious rum.
|Plantation 3 Stars Artisanal Rum
Classification: White Rum
Aging: No Age Statement (NAS)
Proof: 41.2% ABV
Price: $17.99 / 750 ml
Product Website: Product Website
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
It might say three stars on the bottle, but the deliciously tropical fruity flavors in here rack up four and a half (out of five) on our scale.