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  • Writer's pictureStuart Pearce

Neisson Bio - red hot or red herring?

An interesting little experiment today, a bio-off if you like.

Regular readers might remember from my 'big Neisson tasting' last year (here) that I'm a huge fan of the fresh, lively, beautifully exciting unaged rhums from Neisson distillery in Martinique.

Today I shall answer a question that has been niggling at me for some time - better for the environment, considerably more expensive to produce but do the 'premium', higher priced, bio versions of these unaged rhums taste better than the originals?

Summer appears to be finally making an appearance here in the south of England so after taking my usual photos I've brought the laptop and glasses out into the garden for tasting. Wonderful :-)

Without further ado, 4 rhums, 20ml of each, left to open up for 15 mins. Nosed first, then tasted. Starting with the 52.5 pair, then the massive L'Esprits - in both pairs, the standard then the bio. Assisted today, following a re-watch last night of the spectacular "Seaching for Sugarman", by the poetic Rodriguez. Top Tip: Watch this film!

Order - whatever you like. Crystal clear. They look good, and smell great

Rhum Neisson blanc, 52.5% vs Rhum Bio Par Neisson, 52.5%

Nose: Both are beautiful, fresh cane-forward scents. The standard botting is a warmer, and more rounded nose. The bio has added sherbet notes and is a little sharper with more citrus.

Mouth: The standard is spectacularly clean and balanced, even a little buttery. Good thickness and a long fresh cane fruit finish. The bio is much sharper - citrus sherbet from the nose steps up even more on the palate. It's a completely different rhum and nothing like as complete or enjoyable. Slightly poorer alcohol integration on the bio too. It's much more lively, with a different fruit profile - more quince & grapefruit skin with a touch of bitterness which could work very well in cocktails but sipped neat it's not as enjoyable.

Rhum Neisson blanc - 88pts

Rhum Bio Par Neisson - 84pts

Rhum Neisson L'Esprit 70% vs Rhum Neisson L'Esprit BIO 66%

Not an exact lineup. There is also a 70% BIO that would have been ideal, but you can only work with what you've got :-)

Nose: A much more even match here. Both are jumping out of the glass to slap you around the face. But in both cases, you come away smiling. If anything the BIO is a little more complex on the nose.

Mouth: Small sips here, and even then they're predictably fiery. But a little patience rewards you with layers and layers of flavour. Spectacular. A blend of salty olives with sweet creamy slightly rotten fruit. The standard 70% is a bigger, wilder rum. More saline and more rotten stuff.

While still offering the salty, mushy fruit profile, the BIO is more approachable. A little more fruit than veg. Also, late in the finish, there's that bitter grapefruit skin from the standard abv bio. On balance, I prefer the dirtier, crazier standard version. If you're going big, you might as well go the whole hog.

Rhum Neisson L'Esprit - 91-pts

Rhum Neisson L'Esprit BIO - 89pts

Conclusion: The L'Esprit could have gone either way. Both are outstanding. But the standard version was a clear win for the standard. Now for a much-deserved Neisson daiquiri after all this hard work ;-)

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