Review: Plantation Original Dark Rum

As we move into the warmer months of the year, there’s only one spirit on my mind this time around: rum. It’s a delicious spirit that I don’t think gets nearly the recognition it should, especially given the ingenuity and variety of different rum manufacturers. Today we’re going to look at a bottle of rum that has crossed the Atlantic twice before getting to my doorstep and comes from more islands than I’ve ever visited: the Plantation Original Dark Rum.



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, Gabriel 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, Gabriel 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, he 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, he 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.


This rum is a blend of three different strains of rum that come from two different islands (Barbados and Jamaica), which are finally matured to perfection in mainland France. It’s a trip around the rum-producing world and I’m honestly interested to see how it turns out.

For all three strains, the spirit starts out as raw molasses (aka 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 versions, but a longer two weeks for the Jamaican version to allow it to build up more of the traditional Jamaican funky flavor characteristics.

For the Barbados strains of rum, the fermented juice is distilled in a combination of pot stills and column stills. The pot still portions create the characterful flavor, while the column still portions add some volume (and make it cheaper to produce). In the Jamaican version, it’s a 100% pot still distilled spirit — meaning more of that funky Jamaican flavor persists to the finished product.

That pattern continues into maturation, with the Barbados sourced rum only sitting in an oak barrel for anywhere between one year to three years before it is deemed ready for the final step. In contrast, the Jamaican rum spends a whopping ten to fifteen years in the barrel before moving forward.

Once properly matured on their respective islands, the spirits are shipped to the Maison Ferrand estate in the south of France where the spirits are blended together and matured to an additional three to six months before being bottled with 15 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 are 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, which is unfortunate given that the color of the spirit inside is fantastic to look at.

For their white version of this rum, they dub it a “three star” rum and, while the name makes sense in context (read our full review for that), I’m glad that it isn’t listed similarly here. Instead, this is simply labeled as the “Original Dark” rum with an appropriate color scheme to match, and I think that works well visually. It won’t turn any heads but similarly the name isn’t going to raise any eyebrows.



This spirit has a beautiful color to it – something close to a rusty amber with some gold highlights. It looks as good in the glass as it does in the bottle and smells even better. Right off the bat, I’m getting a lot of those Jamaican funky notes — rotting mango, pineapple, banana — mixed in with some of the more traditional sweet sugary aromas. There are some good spices in here as well; specifically, some cinnamon, clove, and black pepper that all combine to make an irresistibly delicious smell.

While the aroma may have been fruity and complex, the actual flavor is a little darker and simpler. That’s something that we commonly see from blended spirits: the aroma is great but the actual flavor can be disappointing. In this case, the flavors are dark and rich, with burnt caramel and dark chocolate leading the way. That’s sweetened and followed by some brown sugar and vanilla before finishing with a hint of that tropical pineapple flavor.

I do want to note that I think I can understand why the added sugar was necessary here. Without it, the flavors would be too dark and turn bitter, but that little bit of sugar does just enough to take the edge off and provide a good experience without ruining the flavors. Just like salt on a good steak, the sugar helps the flavors shine.

On Ice

I think a little bit of ice is exactly what this spirit needs, and bodes really well for how we will see it perform in cocktails.

When tried all on its own, the richness and the depth of those dark chocolate and burnt caramel flavors were a bit overpowering. They weren’t bitter or unpleasant (mainly thanks to the sugar content), but they also didn’t leave any oxygen in the room for any of the other components to breathe. With the added ice, those darker and richer components are toned down just enough to that they are still a major player, but there’s a lot more going on here.

More of the fruit is coming through now, specifically some pineapple, banana, and dried apricot. It makes this taste significantly more tropical and closer to what I would expect from a dark rum. The combination of the rich dark chocolate flavors and the fruity notes make me think that this might be an excellent candidate for a rum old fashioned if you ever get the notion to try it.

Fizz (Dark & Stormy)

This is really good, but it could be better.

I think this is the first time where the bitterness from the dark chocolate is actually coming through in the flavor profile. Taken neat or on ice, there’s just a tiny bit of bitterness on the finish that I think has been covered up, but something about the lime juice and the ginger beer in this drink accentuates it instead of masking it.

Which is an unfortunate turn of events, given that everything else about this cocktail is delicious. There are some good tropical fruits coming through and complimenting the lime juice, and plenty of that richness to offset the bitterness of the ginger beer. In general, anyway — it’s just that tiny bit on the finish that throws things off.


Overall Rating

Usually, when I review a spirit, I use a couple ounces to try it a few different ways, and then share the remainder of the bottle with friends and family. But in this case, I couldn’t bring myself to hand it over once I was done testing, and it made the cut for my personal collection.

The reason is that this is an absolutely perfect spirit for cocktails and mixing. There’s plenty of depth and complexity from the dark chocolate and burnt caramel, but also plenty of tropical fruits that it brings to the table. I’ve been slightly obsessed with tiki drinks this spring, and this bottle has been my constant companion through every hurricane, fog cutter, and three dots and a dash I’ve made.

When it comes to how this stacks up against the competition, I think this is a good half measure between the stereotypical Myers’s Dark Rum and Diplomatico Mantuano. It has more fruit and more complexity than Myers’s and definitely qualifies as a sipping rum in my opinion, but it doesn’t quite reach the level of deliciousness that the Diplomatico option provides.

This is one rum where the journey was definitely worth the results, both for the bottle and for my taste buds.

Plantation Original Dark Rum
Produced By: Plantation
Owned By: Maison Ferrand
Production Location: Trinidad and Tobago
Classification: Dark Rum
Aging: No Age Statement (NAS)
Proof: 40% ABV
Price: $19.99 / 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: 3.5/5
A delicious dark rum that is perfect in mixers, but a little simple on its own.


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