Pure Spirits: Clément Créole Shrubb & Spiced Martinique Coffee

Today it’s once again about a very interesting product from the French overseas department of Martinique. It has a certain affiliation with Curacao (such as Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao), but is ultimately different. And if you think you already know what a Shrubb is, you may only be partially correct. (provided test product)

Actually, the Clément Créole Shrubb is certainly a member of the family of Rhum Agricoles from the house of Clément – but without actually being a Rhum Agricole. In the past I did already write about the Clément Canne Bleue and the Clément Select Barrel as well as the Clément Rhum Vieux Agricole VSOP here on the blog. All of them are really excellent Rhum Agricoles from the island of Martinique and all of them are strictly regulated craft products (by the French AOC). The Clément Créole Shrubb that is in focus today is a little different.

It does not simply represent another Rhum Agricole with another specified time of maturation, instead it is a “Shrubb”. Now, what is a Shrubb? Well, first of all a Shrubb should not be mistaken for a “rub” (you can certainly also rub your meat with the Clément Créole Shrubb, but I would advise to use it otherwise). But if you should think: “Wait a minute, isn’t a shrub actually some kind of vinegar syrup?”, then you are correct! Those syrups are often used for soft drinks and go back to an ancient Arabic word for “drinking” (Arab.: شراب). In French, however, a Shrubb (in the spelling with the double B) is a kind of liqueur on the basis of Rhum Agricole which is infused with spices and especially the peels of oranges native to the Antilles. And the Clément Créole Shrubb is exactly that kind of liqueur. Of course there is very likely a close etymological connection to the “regular” Shrub, but I don’t want to discuss that at this point (without extensive research it would not be possible anyway – especially since I am unfortunately not able to speak French).

For the Clément Créole Shrubb, matured and unmatured Rhum Agricoles from house Clément are blended before Creole spices and the peels of bitter oranges are allowed to macerate in the blended Rhum. So how different will it taste compared to a Curacao?

Tasting Notes:

Aroma: First of all there is orange and by “orange” I mean lots of orange! The aroma is intense with recognizable bitter tones in the background, although also a full-bodied sweetness rises to the nose. In the course of time, the spices (which are present from the beginning) are becoming more and more distinct from the orange: pepper, allspice and cinnamon, some cloves and a touch of paprika.

Taste: Full-bodied and sweet orange, almost like candied orange, bitter notes are only gradually there, again there are cloves and cinnamon, a slightly “green” note from the Rhum Agricoles also comes through. It is a spicy and fruity liqueur that has absolutely convinced me!

Finish: the sweetness makes way for of a lasting bitterness, also a little oak from the barrel-aged Rhums is there. It is indeed closely related to a good Curacao, but there are also some differences, especially when it comes to the spice dimension and the typical rhum notes shining through.

I don’t want to miss to also suggest a cocktail today! It is inspired by a cocktail from Tiare Olsen, a Swedish rum and cocktail blogger, who created a nice drink called Spiced Curaçao Coffee. Instead of Spiced Rum and Curacao I am using the Clément Select Barrel Rhum Agricole and the Clément Creole Shrubb. Therefore I simply had to slightly rename this twist: So I hope you enjoy your Spiced Martinique Coffee. (If you need more details about the slightly whipped cream listed below in the recipe – which is essential! – I can recommend you to have have a look at my article about the Irish Coffee).

Recipe “Spiced Martinique Coffee”:

5.5 cl Clément Select Barrel Rhum Agricole
0.75 cl Clément Créole Shrubb
0.75 cl Demerara sugar syrup
1 small cup of strong coffee of the best quality
2 Dashes Bob’s Vanilla Bitters
approx. 3 cl of slightly whipped cream

Preparation: Fill your glass with hot water before starting with the preparation. Now beat the cream until it becomes viscous and sticks to the spoon for a longer time but make sure it has not become stiff. Mix Rhum Agricole and Créole Shrubb in a small pan and carefully heat on the stove – but don’t bring it to the boil! Discard the hot water from your glass completely and add Rhum Agricole, Créole Shrubb, demerara sugar syrup, coffee and vanilla bitters and stir. Now carefully pour the slightly whipped cream on the surface of the drink over the backside of your bar spoon, the cream should not mix with the rest of the drink! Finally garnish with a fine grating of nutmeg and a pinch of cinnamon.

Glass: Irish coffee glass / fireproof glass

Garnish: freshly grated nutmeg and a pinch of cinnamon

Buying sources: At specialized retailers or online. The Clément Créole Shrubb is bottled at 40% ABV and costs about 25 euros.

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