Compagnie des Indes is a remarkable company that has made some serious headway in the world of rum since its birth in 2014. We take a look at the brand and the unusual rums it distributes, including Compagnie des Indes Dominican Republic A.F.D Cask Strength.
Compagnie des Indes
Compagnie des Indes is a French, independent bottler that specialises in seeking out exciting barrels of rum from all around the world and releasing them under its brand. It was founded by Florent Beuchet, whose background encompasses him working for his father (a wine and absinthe maker) before studying as an International Trade Master of wine and spirits, and becoming brand manager for Banks rum in New York.
Whilst at Banks, Florent discovered his passion for rum and saw in it opportunities that the world of wine did not offer (due in part, at least, to the category’s few rules). A life steeped in wine meant he could also recognise concepts of terroir, distillation, ageing and blending that were readily transferable from vine to sugar cane. With this in mind, he decided to follow the European tradition of sourcing product for bottling, heed the growing, cult-like devotion to single cask, high ABV rums, and form Compagnie des Indes.
In March 2014, he sourced his first batch of rums via brokers in the UK and Holland, choosing unadulterated rums from Belize, Cuba, Guadeloupe and Caroni in Trinidad. These were then labelled using purposefully old fashioned looking designs, often including ships that harkened back to iconic trading routes and companies.
Whilst this design choice, as well as the company’s name (translates as “East India Company”) is somewhat questionable given the dark history of the EIC trading slaves alongside its rums, it is noteworthy that the bottles’ labels demonstrate transparency in terms of the liquid enclosed therein. Similarly to Velier’s Luca Gargano and Foursquare’s Richard Seale, Florent practices openness in terms of announcing age, source, strength and barrel numbers on each expression, vocally admonishing the solera style of rum-making as misleading drinkers with dishonest age statements and railing against rectified column-still spirits that add flavouring and sugar to low-end distillates.
Compagnie des Indes continues to grow its portfolio, so far distributing unadulterated rums from around 15 different countries under its brand, as well as a number of blends. Whilst sadly few are available within the UK, the ones that make it over from mainland Europe are often jumped upon with vigour by intrigued rummies. One such, is Compagnie des Indes Dominican Republic A.F.D Cask Strength.
Compagnie des Indes Dominican Republic A.F.D. Cask Strength
Produced at Alcoholes Finos Dominicanos – a Dominican Republic based distillery founded in 2009 by a Spanish group and considered to be the most modern distillery in the Caribbean – this expression was distilled in December 2010 and bottled at both 43% ABV and cask strength (62.1% ABV) by Compagnie des Indes in April 2019. This is a rare single cask rum with only 263 bottles available worldwide.
Tasting Notes – Compagnie des Indes Dominican Republic A.F.D. Cask Strength
A pleasingly powerful nose full of dried dates, prunes, bittersweet dark chocolate, mango, rambutan, ripe banana skin, tobacco leaf, liquorice root, raisins, sultanas, nutmeg and white pepper. The ABV prickles the nose but doesn’t burn the hairs off.
Wow. A thick and full-on sweep of funky vegetal sweetness, spice and aniseed. Tobacco leaf and stubbed out cigars combine with rich dark chocolate, plump raisins, mixed pepper and sticky homemade barbecue sauce. It’s a surprisingly smooth sipper for the strength, with a lovely texture and heat developing in the throat after a good few sips.