F lorian Beuchet, only 31 years old, is the man behind the Compagnie des Indes, which is represented in Germany and therefore also at the BOTTLE MARKET by Perola GmbH. The rum lover spoke to BOTTLE magazine about good and bad rum and how to become a connoisseur.
BOTTLE: You have chosen rum for your profession from the multitude of classic spirits. Why?
Fate. I got a Masters in International Wine and Spirits Trade in France. Then there was the opportunity to move to New York and work as a brand manager for the independent bottler Banks Rum, which specializes in blends. There I noticed how diverse the world of rum is, how many flavors there are - I was caught.
How often do you travel to discover new rum and how long does it take to find one?
Traveling costs a lot, so I don't travel as much as I would like to. I do a big tour every two years - most recently in early 2018. At that time, I visited 30 distilleries in nine Caribbean countries in 30 days. With seven of them I got into business right there and then. But sometimes it doesn't work or it takes years - that depends, for example, on the prices demanded, the quality or the quantity produced.
It is often said that after gin, rum will be the next big hype. Is that right?
For Europe, yes. Rum has become quite popular here. The way to get there was the easy-to-drink, very commercial brands that are dark and very sweet. In the meantime, however, we are seeing that consumers are becoming more and more knowledgeable and are turning to more honest varieties. People are becoming more and more sensitive to quality and are concerned about additives. That is why Europe is a good market for quality rum.
Is this where most of the rum is drunk?
No, the USA is right at the forefront. Americans, however, prefer the worst varieties.
What do you call "bad"?
A bad variety is the opposite of an honest variety. By that I mean rums that have a lot of sugar, vanilla and colorings. The world of rum is a world of pirates!
Is age a quality feature?
Customers often believe that, especially since old rum is usually more expensive. But it is not good per se, but can be totally dry and woody, unbalanced. In contrast, a very young rum can also taste nice and powerful. Let me also emphasize that the color of the brandy has nothing to do with its quality. Consumers often mistakenly regard a dark color as a sign of age and thus quality. This is why distillers add colorings to 90 percent of all types of rum. I don't do that - that's why I have, for example, a 20-year-old rum on offer that is as light as white wine.
Because some producers and traders refuse to have their brandies measured by age, there are also bottlings in the whisk (e) y world without an age indication on the label. Is it the same with rum?
Yes, there are “no age statement” rums like that now. One of the main reasons is that a lot of the information on labels is misleading. Take for example the indication "Sistema Solera". It describes a certain maturation process and at the same time tricks consumers. When it says “Sistema Solera 23”, consumers tend to assume that the rum is 23 years old. Because of the aging process, only a single drop in the bottle can actually be that old - but the rest of this rum is much younger.
Is there a rum collector's market like whisk (e) y? If so, what achieves which prices?
Yes, it is increasing. As far as I know, a rum has already achieved more than 5,000 euros.
If I want to get into rum collecting, what do you advise me?
Concentrate on the single barrel rums, i.e. the single casks, and on limited bottlings. Of course, varieties from distilleries that have ceased operations are also good - there is nothing left to do.
"My main market is France, but Germany comes second - and here I am seeing a growth of 20 percent annually. "
Which rum do you recommend for beginners?
Something simple but honest. This is when rums from the French Caribbean, such as Martinique, come to mind. Or from Jamaica and South America.
Do you have a favorite yourself?
Yes, our Jamaica Navy Strength with 57 percent alcohol. Because it is so strong, the aromas develop particularly well - of course you only drink a little of it. But it is also very suitable for cocktails, for example a Hemingway Daiquiri, an Old Cuban or an Old Fashioned.
Everyone is talking about food pairing - what do you eat with a good sip of rum?
Rum goes well with spicy dishes, but also with oysters, shrimp and smoked fish or pastries.
According to figures from the Federation of German Spirits Industry and Importers, rum sales in Germany are stagnating.
Have you experienced this yourself?
No, I can't say that. My main market is France, but Germany comes second - and here I see growth of 20 percent annually. This is certainly also due to the fact that I make a lot of presentations in bars and liquor stores - or at trade fairs.
You created a rum especially for the German market that was matured in a beer barrel. How has the response been?
Oh, pretty good as far as I know. People like the packaging of the “Oktoberum” and the label is pretty too. And if you want to ask right now whether we will do something similar again: Possibly, but nothing is currently planned.
You offer much more rum than Rhum agricole, agriculturally produced rum made directly from fresh sugar cane juice. Why? And do you regret that?
Yes, that's a shame. In fact, this rum is of particularly good quality because it is only distilled in small quantities. But for one, there aren't that many distilleries that specialize in it. And on the other hand, they all produce very little, so that I can no longer purchase that much.
Are there any real gaps in your product range that you would like to fill?
Absolutely. I would also like to offer rum from Japan or South Africa. I'm sure there are fine spirits out there - but I haven't had the time to dig deeper into them.
You started very young - where do you see yourself and your company in 20 years?
Hopefully I will then live in the Caribbean and have my own distillery in addition to the Compagnie des Indes.