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Distilleries of Martinique

Visit the makers of the excellent Martinique rums

Martinique is a dream for many people. Its name alone evokes white sandy beaches, turquoise sea, exotic plants... Imagine yourself at the water's edge, surrounded by palm trees; isn't there something missing? Yes: a rum-based cocktail! This alcohol is an integral part of the local heritage. Famous throughout the world, Martinique's rum is the only one to have received the AOC label, proof of its excellence.

If you spend your holidays on the island of flowers, the route of Martinique rums will teach you a lot about the making of this authentic beverage, which is the pride of the island of flowers. Are you a rum lover? Your palate and your eyes will be conquered by the robes of this precious nectar! 


The history of rum

To begin, let's talk about the main ingredient used to make rum: sugar cane. We owe the introduction of this plant in the Americas to Christopher Columbus, in 1493. Sugar cane acclimated perfectly in Martinique and slaves were quickly put to work cultivating it.
On the other hand, sugar mills appeared in the West Indies towards the end of the 1630s, particularly in Barbados, considered the cradle of rum. It was then discovered that fermenting sugar cane juice produced a brandy. A

few years later, in 1667, Father du Tertre described the rum-making process for the first time.

Then, in 1694, Father Labat brought his knowledge of the distillation of " vesou ", or crushed cane juice. Stricken with a terrible fever, he was cured by drinking an infusion ofcane alcohol. Consequently, he became interested in this beverage: he imported stills and thus perfected the process of making cane brandy.
At that time, the English called it "kill devil", which became " guildive " in French. The slaves called it " taffia ".
It was not until 1768 that "rhum" was spelled as we know it today, when Diderot and D'Alembert published it in their Encyclopedia.

More recently, in 1996, Martinique's agricultural rum obtained the " AOC Martinique " label. For the first time, the French Overseas Territories benefited from an AOC (appellation d'origine contrôlée). Over the years, the producers have been able to perpetuate and improve their traditional know-how, which is now part of the living heritage, to produce this intoxicating drink. Other rums have obtained a PGI (Protected Designation of Origin) in France, such as "Rhum de la Guadeloupe".

Today, this alcohol remains very popular. In Martinique, it is drunk at any time of day, with a specific name depending on the time of day: for example, the first glass before breakfast is called " le décollage ".


The categories of rum

First, we must differentiate between non-agricultural or industrial rum and agricultural rum. The latter is produced using pure sugar cane juice. It is therefore of better quality than non-agricultural rum, which is made from cane residue (molasses). Rum also has a different name depending on its age.

White rum

This rum has a pronounced taste of freshly cut sugar cane. The alcohol content of white agricultural rum is generally between 50° and 55°. It is quickly bottled after its manufacture, which makes it a young rum. Indeed, it remains in barrel 3 months on average.
It is used as a base in the preparation of certain cocktails, including the ti-punch, emblematic of the West Indies.

Amber rum

It is a white rum put in barrel (of oak most often) for a duration from 12 to 18 months. At the end of this period, it will take a nice amber color, hence its name. During its ageing process, it may develop aromas of vanilla, caramel, coconut... depending on the barrel used.
Ideal in cocktails that require a stronger flavour, you can also enjoy it on its own, with ice. Finally, you can use it to flambé dishes or flavour desserts.

Old rum

Its elaboration rests on the same principle as the amber rum, with the difference that it will have to age at least 3 years in barrel. The old rum will be soft or dry and will take various flavours (woody, fruity or flowery) according to the barrels used, the rate of moisture, the temperature, etc.
Connoisseurs will prefer to taste these exceptional spirits neat, to enjoy each of their notes.

Straw rum

Straw rum is very similar to amber rum. It remains however less long in barrel, approximately one year. In general, its alcohol content goes from 40° to 50°.

The rum route in Martinique : The distilleries to discover

Saint James

Originally located in Saint-Pierre, this distillery was transferred to Sainte-Marie in 1970 following an eruption of Mount Pelee. Each year, it produces more than three million litres of rum!
Discover this mythical place with its vast plantations and its museum, in which you will learn a lot about the history of this beverage, and taste delicious AOC agricultural rums.

J.M

At the foot of Mount Pelee, in Macouba, is the legendary J.M. rum factory. Authentic, thanks to its small size and isolation, it is also pleasant and quick to visit.
Take the opportunity to visit Habitation Bellevue, where exceptional sugar cane is grown, not far from there.

Depaz

The Depaz distillery is one of the oldest on the island, which makes it a reference. Founded in 1651 in a mansion, it has an ancestral know-how. You will find it south of Mount Pelee. All these rums benefit from the AOC.

La Mauny

In Rivière-Pilote, this rum factory produces three authentic rums: La Mauney, Trois-Rivières and Duquesne. The white rums and the old rums have the AOC. Don't hesitate to visit, especially as the tours and tastings are free.

Neisson

This family distillery, located in Carbet, produces AOC rums known throughout the world.

Dillon

In Fort-de-France, Dillon has been producing the famous AOC agricultural white rums since 1779.

La Favorite

Based in the capital, this steam distillery produces only white rums, very sweet, as well as old rums, all AOC.

Habitation Saint-Etienne

You will discover this majestic rum factory near Gros Morne, in the heart of the island. Its gardens are worth a visit. The proof: they received the label "Remarkable Gardens" in 2015.
 
There are other rum factories. Some are no longer in operation, others only produce industrial rums.
The harvest of the sugar cane is done from February to June, ideal period to visit these domains.

Go on an adventure along the rum route!

Now that you know everything about the West Indies' favourite drink, head for the Rum Route in search of fabulous adventures! The tastings offered by the rum shops will allow you to get your hands on the drink of your dreams. Be careful, however, to consume this alcohol in moderation! It would be a shame not to take advantage of the splendid Martinique landscapes, typical of the Caribbean.

Questions fréquentes sur Distilleries

Here is the list of 11 rum distilleries to visit in Martinique;

  • Depaz Distillery 
  • Habitation La Favorite 
  • Distillery J.M
  • Plantation Trois Rivières
  • Neisson Distillery
  • Saint James Distillery
  • La Mauny House
  • Dillon Distillery
  • Habitation Saint-Etienne (HSE)
  • Hardy Distillery
  • White rum
  • Amber rum 
  • Old rum
  • Straw rum

The distilleries we have listed above all produce quality rums, deserving their AOC. But the best rum will of course depend on your tastes. To help you in your search, we bring you a selection of the most appreciated Martinique rums.

Let's start with the Quintessence Saint James. This old rum is divine. It was awarded the 2015 gold medal at the Paris competition.
If you are a connoisseur, the 15 year old rum from the Neisson distillery will amaze you with its delicacy, lightness and spiciness.

In addition, La Favorite produces a succulent aged rum called La Flibuste. This special vintage will not leave you indifferent with its inimitable taste and its "pirate" bottle.
Moreover, some locals consider J.M. old rum as the best of the island of flowers.

The Habitation Saint-Etienne offers rums that are aged in barrels originally designed for port, whiskey and sauternes. The resulting products are excellent.

Among the favorites, we will finish with the J.M "XO" rum, a must.

Here is the list of rums from Martinique:

  • Trois-Rivières
  • Saint-James
  • Neisson
  • La Mauny
  • La Favorite
  • JM
  • Madkaud Heirs
  • HSE
  • Hardy
  • Dillon
  • Depaz
  • Clement
  • Bally


All rums have contributed to the development and reputation of Martinique rum. The Martinique rum has since become AOC and is recognized among the best rums in the world, if not THE best!