Friday, October 31, 2014

Rhum Clement X.O. - A Death in the Family

We all imagine the time will come when there will be no more time. Like an older relative or loved one, we understand there will be a point at which, their life will end, when we will receive a phone call from a family member, informing us of the expected, yet otherwise unimaginable. We attempt to understand what it may be like, but don't really want to know. Then, that point arrives and the seemingly infinite amount of time on Earth is suddenly fixed; you hang up the phone and are left with memories and a void. You cannot change what has happened, but notice an ache deep inside, knowing such times will no longer be. This is how I felt after hearing that Rhum Clement X.O. had died.

Composed of the best vintages (1952, 1970 and 1976) Martinique has ever seen, its aromas and flavors were well received and impacted many. These vintages, despite their most appealing qualities, were produced in limited quantities. We often take for granted those with so much meaning in our lives, and as a r(h)um lover, I am guilty of this as well. An amazing rhum comes along, however you don't fully appreciate it in the context of it never being readily available again. History repeats and this timeless story is told again. Its passing is a great loss to anyone who appreciates world-class spirits and it saddens me knowing the future of rhum agricole will no longer have one of its finest expressions at hand. In trying to relate what this rhum meant, I have requested comments from many of those in the rhum community about Clement X.O.'s passing.

Here are some of the comments from friends, family and those who have came to know and love this rhum agricole tres vieux:

It's sad because it was the first agricole that visually (X.O./Bottle) connected itself with French brandy making for me. I think Martinique could benefit from that connecting and pedigree more. I typically avoid r(h)ums that have spent more than 15 years in a barrel. I have never avoided Clement X.O.  
---Steve Livigni (La Descarga, Scopa Italian Roots, The Chestnut Club)

We will remember it as one of the best of all the french caribbean. The last tears of it have already been consumed and our tears won't replace the pleasure and feelings we had to enjoy the last sips of it. Let it rest in peace alongside the master, the Dr. Homere Clement, for now and eternity 
---Benoit Bail (Liqeuers et Spiritueux, Zwazo Rum)

So much more than a series of age statements, the X.O. straddled both brilliance and belligerence with sweet bright notes layered over a dense almost over charred, finish. 
---Chris Morales (Rhum Clement)

This won't be the last retired iconic spirit as demand for quality far exceeds the old stocks that exist to provide it. Drink the good stuff while you can! 
---Jim Romdall (Rumba)

I once traded a bottle of X.O. for an excellent bicycle. Now that bicycle makes me sad. 
---Wayne Curtis (Author - And a Bottle of  Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails)

Clement X.O. was my introduction to aged agricole and has remained a favorite for many years. I started with the best and have never found a worthy substitute. It will be a very sad day in the rum world when it is finally....Until then I'm hoarding every bottle I find.  
---Mike Streeter (Rum Connection, International Rum Council)

I just can't believe X.O. is gone. It seems like only yesterday I was drinking X.O. out of a bottle in New Orleans with Jeff Berry and Blair Reynolds...the times we had, they will carry me forward. 
---Matt "Rumdood" Robold (, 320 Main

Well, I'm sad to see it go. It was a lovely rum, very austere and agreeably dry. Despite the advanced aged of the component rums, it never presented as over-oaked. Fortunately, the Clement range continues to expand with fine new offerings that help soften the blow.
---Martin Cate (Smuggler's Cove)

You were my first top shelf premium rum. Although you were excellent to sip on, your true calling was being paired up with Appleton 21yr for the luxurious Fifty Dollar Mai Tai that so many people enjoyed on their birthdays, anniversaries, promotions and holiday celebrations. The Fifty Dollar Mai Tai will never be the same and for that, you will be truly missed. 
---Jason Alexander (Tacoma Cabana)

It belongs to the ages now... 
---Chris Carlsson (Spirits Review

It's the end of an era personally. The Clement X.O. was the first truly high end agricole I ever had and I will remember it always with its nod to Cognac.
---Rocky Yeh (American Northwest

It's with great sadness mixed with warm emotions that Clement X.O. has depleted its rare stocks and has departed our rum cabinet for the great cellars in the sky.
---Benjamin Jones (Family, Rhum Clement

X.O. we hardly knew ye, but your legacy lives on. Vive le Vieux!
---Paul Clarke (Imbibe

It says a lot for Clement's integrity if they discontinue X.O. for a missing ingredient: most brands would just fiddle the formula!
---Ian Williams (Author, Rum: A Social and Sociable History of the Real Spirit of 1776)

The bottle that effectively pushed a certain Controlee brandy (au revoir Cognac) off the tiny Sambar shelves and solidified our Rhum-centric nature. It was all Agricole after that. 
---Jay Kuehner, (Vessel, Sambar

There will be a void in my rhum cabinet after the death of the excellent Clement X.O.
---Ian "Rum-Ambassador" Burrell (The Rum Experience

It's not often one's compelled to write about a rums passing. Most rhums, even great ones, simply....disappear...News of Clement X.O.'s pending extinction --barrel aged stocks of the 1952 vintage essential to its DNA are depleted - caused a tear drop as large as the shapely bottle it's presented in. No ordinary rhum, X.O. combines that elusive and exclusive complexity of aromas and harmony of flavors that other master blenders aspire to achieve. They will fall short. Clement's estate grown sugarcane and distillates are available only to them and to you in these always collectible yet soon to be extinct bottles. Hoard now, enjoy at leisure, cry later.
---Dave Russell (Rum Gallery, International Rum Council)

Habitation Clement and Rhum Clement X.O.

Rest in Peace Clement X.O.


  1. Great post--I especially loved your burial photo! Thanks for the heads up on this--I just picked up two bottles for posterity. I have started a collection of special bottles that I will one day give to my son--this will be one of them. Cheers

  2. Thank you. Creating the burial photo was like a funeral for me. Great idea about the gift to your son, that's rumlove! Cheers!!

  3. Sad to see it go, it was my first high end rhum agricole....

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