We’re back in Guadeloupe. This is somewhat new ground for me as Longueteau is a distillery and brand I’m completely unfamiliar with. It’s something that’s only been mentioned when another rum geek lists the different rhum distilleries of Guadeloupe.
The Longueteau Distillery is located on the main island of Guadeloupe. It’s a family-owned operation founded by Henri Longueteau in 1895. He turned an old sugar refinery into a distillery. Currently, the fourth generation is managing Longueteau.
They’re proud to say that they’re Guadeloupe’s only distillery to be 100% self-sufficient in sugarcane, since 2005. It’s common for agricole distillers and other sugarcane juice-based rum to plant sugarcane around the distillery. But, since the estate is sometimes not large enough to support the required quantity of cane, some cane is bought from nearby cane farmers. I guess with demand for agricole rum not being that high yet, Longueteau is fine with just using cane from their 24-hectare estate. I think this also shows a lack of greed.
Guadeloupe doesn’t have an AOC like Martinque does, but they do have a GI. I haven’t memorized their GI by heart, but it’s generally said to be similar to Martinique’s AOC. If you want a more detailed reading of how different Martinique’s AOC is from Guadeloupe’s GI, I suggest you read these two articles from The Cocktail Wonk: Guadeloupe’s Rhum GI and How it Compares to Martinique’s AOC and Six Things About the French Rum Industry.
One of these similarities is the harvest season. Martinique’s AOC says cane harvest season is from January 1st to the end of August. This coincides with Longueteau’s harvest season of January to June. But, here’s a list that stands out to me.
- Martinique has specific parts of the island where rum can be produced. For Guadeloupe, rum can be produced anywhere, but Marie Galante has local restrictions.
- Guadeloupe allows the use of molasses, cane syrup and cane juice. Martinique only allows cane juice. (Just an FYI: molasses rums are also produced in Martinque at the St. James distillery. As far as I know, these are sold to blenders/brokers and aren’t bottled.)
- Guadeloupe allows Charentais-style pot stills. Martinique only allows creole column stills. (I’ve heard that a distillery in Martinique uses pot stills, but isn’t allowed to put “Martinique AOC” on the label due to it not following the AOC).
Longueteau mainly uses two varieties of sugarcane in their 12 plots. These are red (R-579) and blue (B69-566). These needs about 10 to 12 months to mature, which results in one crop per year.
Today’s subject, the Longueteau Sélection Parcellaire Canne Rouge #1 is a blanc rhum from their 2017 crop. These Parcelle releases are all from one plot. This particular plot grows the red cane (hence the red part of the label) and is grown in direct sunlight and in a dried environment.
This parcelle concept is interesting since I believe it highlights terroir to a next level. Terroir in spirits is normally just expressed through a category’s region, its subregion’s soil, and the limited varieties of raw materials that can be used. What Longueteau does is specific to certain plots of their estate. The only thing lacking from their description of the plot is the soil. But since it’s all within an estate, the soil might be all the same.
Red cane was also used for Parcelle #9, but the plot is damp and surrounded by a waterway, which is the opposite conditions of the plot Parcelle #1 grew in. It shows that, despite being in the same estate and using the same cane variety, the soil and environment will still make a difference. I wish I had a sample of Parcelle #9 so I could compare.
Keep in mind, this is about one type of cane and what different types of environment and soil can do to change the flavor it provides. These are also unaged. What we get is the pure expression of their cane, plots, and distillation. There’s no barrel aging to possibly hide and artificially manufacture a desired result. This has none of the fake terroir nonsense certain whisky brands and rum brands talk about to fluff up their marketing.
I bought this rum sample from a local bar called Buccaneers.
Longueteau Parcelle No 1 – Review
On the nose: Sharp and hot, but they die down as the rum gets to open up. I get light aromas of salt, sapodilla, sugarcane juice, grass, and pineapple crown. This seems to be a very shy rum.
In the mouth: Not as shy here. I get light tastes of milk chocolate, sapodilla, grass, salt, Nestle’s All Purpose Cream, pineapple skin and crown.
I’m disappointed. I got all excited with their Parcelle concept, but this rum seems to be very shy and a bit too clean. Letting this breathe for a bit only fixed the ethanol sharpness issue.
This isn’t a good first experience of Longueteau for me. What I look for in agricoles or any sugarcane juice rum is a dirty and grassy profile. I haven’t given up on this parcelle concept, though. I’ll look forward to trying their core range and more of these parcelle bottlings.
Image courtesy of Excellence Rhum.