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Rum Review: J.M VSOP

J.M VSOP / Rhum JM Rhum Vieux Agricole

Rhum J.M V.S.O.P.

If you read my review of Clement’s VSOP, you may already know that agricoles aren’t my favoriote cane spirit. Maybe I’m too unsophisticated to appreciate them–it’s a distinct possibility. One thing is for sure: there’s no accounting for taste (de gustatibus non disputandum for you dead language lovers out there).

In any event, I thought I’d give another rhum vieux agricole a shot, so today we get familiar with a VSOP from J.M.

I found this rhum at BevMo of all places. To my knowledge, it’s the only agricole they sell. At $60, I figured this rum was really going to blow me away, but prices, as it turns out, can be deceiving.

The J.M bottle itself looks fantastic. It’s green, which is somewhat unusual in the rum world, and the label has tons of charm. The sketch on the label appears to be of a Martinique distillery in days gone by, and the hand lettering furthers this antique feel. Holding the bottle in my hands, I feel like I’m about to enjoy something really special. It also doesn’t hurt that the name is essentially my initials.

I removed the foil, uncorked the bottle and poured a generous serving into my tasting snifter. The color is a rich golden hue with touches of bronze and copper. On swirling, relatively few slender legs form and return to the bowl. More droplets seem to descend only partly from the pronounced ring at the top of the snifter.

The aroma is very woody, owing to the American and French oak casks in which it spent its formative four to five years. The nose is similar to a whiskey of some sort, but sweeter and with spices not found in Kentucky or similar environs. The agricole earthiness here is overshadowed by a slightly astringent aroma that holds hints of tobacco.

Now for a taste. The word “strong” comes to mind. The mouth feel is oily and there is a lot of spice and heat. As the rum hits the back of my throat, my eyes open wide telling me this rum is not for the faint of heart. The flavors are busy, and it’s initially difficult to pick them out individually, but I press on. The prominent flavors begin to emerge individually now, and oak still dominates just above the strong tobacco flavors mixed with some cinnamon and the typical earthiness of an agricole. When I begin to taste something akin to paraffin, I realize that I’m no longer having any fun. I prefer my kerosene in lamps, merci beaucoup.

After I finished scribbling down my notes, I went online and read a few other reviews of this rum. I was surprised to find that these folks could pick out so many different flavor components that I did not. Granted, I’m not the most advanced taster on the planet, but I like to think my palate is pretty good. Did I get a bad bottle? Perhaps. More likely though is the fact that there really is no accounting for taste. Try as we may, everyone is going to taste something different in every rum, and for me, this one is just not my cup of tea.

On to the scores:

  • Appearance: .5/1
  • Nose: 1/2
  • Mouth feel: 1/1
  • Taste: 1.5/4
  • Aftertaste: 1/2
  • Total Score: 5/10

Buy JM VSOP online

One positive thing I can say about this rhum is that it made me appreciate my bottle of Clement VSOP a lot more. At $60,the JM is really a terrible value compared to the $40 Clement.
Do you love this rum? If so, please tell me what I’m missing in the comments section below.
11 Comments leave one →
  1. james permalink
    April 13, 2012 6:35 pm

    Yes, it is just you. The JM VSOP is jaw-dropping stuff, probably the best rum I’ve had, and leagues ahead of Zacapa 23 or Appleton 12, even a bit better than Clement. I’m not really sure what you’re missing…the only explanation is that you have a bad bottle, but that’s super-rare/non-existent in spirits, unlike in wine, so I honestly don’t know what to make of it. Even if it isn’t your cup of tea, you should be able to recognize it’s excellence. Now, I’m not a rum drinker, I’m more into cognac/armagnac and scotch, so when I do drink rum I prefer agricole, so maybe that’s what’s going on here.

    • Josh Miller permalink*
      April 13, 2012 7:37 pm

      What can I tell you, James–I’m just not into rhum agricole. Fortunately there’s a ton of other rums for us both to enjoy. Cheers!

      • June 7, 2012 8:22 pm

        It took me a long while to get into it. I find that something like the Donga Punch is a really good place to start as it showcases some of the flavors of rhum agricole while rounding off the rougher edges.

        With that said, if you’d prefer to drink it straight, you might want to try adding a little water to the Rhum J.M. I find that brings out some sweet flavors to balance the vegetal funk. However, I would agree with you that at $60 J.M. VSOP isn’t the best deal. I was lucky enough to pick up a few bottles at $35 a pop, which is much more reasonable. Otherwise I’d stick to their Élevé Sous Bois expression, which is cheaper and comes in liter bottles, so the unit price is a lot lower.

      • Josh Miller permalink*
        August 6, 2012 12:48 pm

        Thanks for the feedback, Jordan! It’s on my list of spirits to go back to after a while. Palates are constantly evolving, after all. Cheers!

  2. Bob permalink
    May 30, 2012 11:56 am

    Let me chime in and say that maybe it isn’t just you. I’m a great lover of rum and out of the 15 or so in my collection this is without a doubt my least favorite . How anyone could prefer it to Appleton 12 year is beyond me. But to each his own.

    • Josh Miller permalink*
      August 6, 2012 12:49 pm

      Thanks for chiming in, Bob. Cheers!

  3. Andy From Australia permalink
    January 7, 2013 12:11 am

    Hi Josh

    Really like your reviews. I also got my bottle at BevMo when i was in the USA recently. Ive read your review with great interest and i agree with some of it. Unlike yourself, im an Agricole junkie. I simply cant get enough of the stuff. But as you say, Each to there own.

    You described the taste as strong, id go further. Its like being punched in the face. Its incredibly intense and has, as you say, lots going on. When i first tasted it i did the same as you. I opened the bottle and hooked straight in. I also missed some of the flavours.
    If you are willing to give it another go (and you have probably tried this) pour yourself a glass and let it breath for an hour or so as you would a good red. After the wait i found that the rum had noticibly mellowed. No longer a punch, but more like a gentle slap 🙂 As for some of the other reviews, I missed half the flavours they are talking about!!

    The other thing i do with intense or overproof rums (and this one has been the subject of much animated debate) is to ” break its back” by adding a dash of water. In my experience It opens the rum up and makes it easier to pick up the subtelties. But thats just me.

    If you are looking for a gentler Agricole id suggest trying St James Rhum Vieux 12yo if you can find it. Its nectar!!!

    Keep up the great reviews

    Andy From Australia

    • Josh Miller permalink*
      January 7, 2013 1:21 pm

      Thanks very much for your comments, Andy. You know I’ve actually begun to appreciate unaged agricoles a lot more since I reviewed the JM VSOP, so maybe it’s time I gave it another shot (although I’m not looking forward to another punch in the face 🙂 )


  4. December 20, 2013 8:49 am

    Although Martinique’s rather modern, “AOC”-branded version of cane juice rums are as a group, overpriced, and made under somewhat oppressive regulations, they are pure and unadulterated so you indeed are tasting the rum, and not the Dupont laden concoctions so common elsewhere. Too they are devoid of any sugar or additives for the American market.

    In sum, cane juice rums (aka agricoles) can be a challenge, particularly those of Martinique which are rather young. This one is a mere 3 years. Thus your experience is perfectly natural. I have to agree with the poster who states that cane juice rums are an acquired taste.

    Two suggestions: first do try it again, but this time with a half or teaspoon of water (to a full ounce of rum). Start with a half. This will change the profile and bring it down into the 40-43% range which will reveal so much more to you.

    Second, run – don’t walk – to your local liquor store and pick up a bottle of Barbancourt Five Star. Unlike the JM, this cane juice rum has been aged at lower proof for a full eight years and will completely change your opinion of what a cane juice/agricole can really achieve.

    Good luck!

  5. Jeff Atkinson permalink
    May 15, 2020 5:38 pm

    You are not missing much. I bought a bottle of Rhum JM 1996 for more than $200 at an upscale wine store. A big disappointment. The packaging is elegant, but the delivery poor. Compared to other high-end rums, this is thin, not much nose, and low-flavor. I much prefer Foursquare 2004 or 2005 — and the cost for “vintage” Foursquare is about 1/3 of Rhum JM 1996.


  1. New Rum Review: JM VSOP « Inu a Kena

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