A number of rum imports from non-traditional locales have tried to make it into the North American market, but most fail to gain any traction. A lot of these are built around big marketing ideas, the idea being to get cool hunters to try the latest novelty. (I’m thinking of Starr African Rum in the red bottles.) The product seems to be an afterthought.
Not so with Dzama Rum from Madagascar (home to five rum distilleries), which will be rolling into limited U.S. markets next month.
When I first sipped I expected the worse, but was more than pleasantly surprised. It was a rich, complicated rum that, to my mind at least, managed to capture some sort of exotic terroir. Dzama makes a vanilla rum (with a whole bean encased in the bottle, seen at left) plus two unflavored rums. The Cuvee Noire (90 proof) was smooth and tasted of honey and vanilla (the man in the booth claimed it had no additives, although I’m skeptical). But the real winner for me was the 104 proof rum, with a spicy taste up front and lively, sweet finish. It somehow seemed to capture then attenuate into the distance the essence of rum. The retail price of the overproof is expected to be about $50.
[Note: this is one of a series of posts arising from the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers convention, held in Las Vegas April 2 to 5, 2012. For an overview, read this.]