Home: Martinique: Tour La Route Des Rhums (the Rum Route) in Martinique and discover its famous rum distilleries
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Tour La Route Des Rhums (the Rum Route) in Martinique and discover its famous rum distilleries

Known for the best rums, distilleries in Martinique have won numerous awards

Martinique Promotion Bureau/CMT USA, May 2006

Just as wine lovers travel to France to tour the Route des Vins or to discover cognac distilleries, in Martinique do as the Martinicans do – travel La Route des Rhums and discover what connoisseurs of rum have been whispering about for years: Martinique has the best rum and has been known as the rum capital of the world since the 18th century.

Martinique rums have been awarded the prestigious French designation Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée, previously reserved for only the finest wines in France, and its rums are carefully made in accordance with the highest standards of the AOC, the governing rules for rhum agricole production.

The island has eleven distilleries producing more than seventeen varieties of rums du terroir, as well as many local liquors made from rum, like coconut liquors, passion fruit liquors and orange-flavoured shrubb. A visitor will soon realize that there is a rum for every palate, and the passionate connoisseur will appreciate our vintage dark rum, often compared to a superb cognac.

Explore the Rum Museum at Saint-James distillery in the town of Sainte-Marie on the north Atlantic. Here you’ll learn the history of sugar cane and rum from 1765 to today through a broad exhibit and exquisite prints relating the history of rum making. Outside in a magnificent garden, the vestiges of this history awaits you with windmills, distilled pipes, an antic sugar cane locomotive and huge oak barrels. Following your visit taste the many varieties of rums and of course, you may purchase a bottle or two to take home. Twice a year, in June and December, there are festivities around the making of rum. During the third week of June people gather at the distillery to celebrate the end of the sugar cane cutting season at the Harvest Festival with music, dancing, and of course, rum tasting! In 2006 the museum is being renovated and will boast a genuine traditional Creole village and a conference centre for meetings and incentives to open in June. In December, there is the Rum Festival when everyone is invited to come and taste rum products.

Other distilleries in this area include Saint-Etienne Distillery in Gros-Morne, whose white rum has received several gold medals, and two others located in Trinité: the small family-owned Hardy and Le Galion, the only sugar factory still in operation since its creation in 1865. Between March and June the sugar cane is cut and the distillery can be visited upon request.

In the south, distilleries La Mauny in the town of Rivière-Pilote, Trois-Rivières in Sainte-Luce and Habitation Clément in François are worth discovering. The latter from the 18th century is part of an estate with an extraordinary 17-acre Botanical Park with more than 300 tropical plants and a distillery no longer in operation, but stocking 1.5 million litres of rum aged in oak barrels. The main house is classified as an historic monument and has an exhibit space, La Case à Léo, where many Caribbean artists show their works. This estate is famous for the summit meeting between presidents Bush Senior and Mitterand in March 1991. Rhum Clément is now offering flavoured rum products to attract younger clients.

On the north Caribbean coast two distilleries await your visit: Distillery Depaz, built in the shadow of Mount Pelée in Saint-Pierre, which received two silver medals in 2004 in Paris for its white 55˚ proof rum, its dark aged rum, and Distillery Neisson, the smallest distillery in Martinique with only forty acres of sugar cane fields boasting a Rhum Agricole rewarded in 2005 with a gold medal in Brussels.

Continue on the Route des Rhums of Martinique by visiting the small family estate La Favorite, the other Rhum Agricole, located in the town of Le Lamentin. At Distillery Dillon, located in the capital, Fort-de-France, you’ll find a restaurant on the estate surrounded by an enchanting garden. And since sugar cane is the main ingredient in the fabrication of rum, do not forget to stop by the Sugar Cane museum in the town of Trois-Ilets.

The discovery tour of Martinique distilleries isn't complete without a visit to J M distillery in the northern town of Macouba, the oldest distillery, founded in 1845, and producing its rum from its own sugar cane. Its white 50˚ proof rum has received numerous medals, most recently a gold medal in 2005.

Throughout Martinique you’ll be able to sample and purchase local rums. At Le Lamentin airport, La Case à Rhum awaits you with many Martinique rums for sale. Take home the taste of Martinique to hold you until you return. If a trip to Martinique is not in your immediate future, however, you may taste and purchase Martinique rums in the United States: Caribbean Spirits, represented by Edward Hamilton, a savvy rum connoisseur, distributes Rum Neisson and La Favorite. For more information, please contact Caribbean Spirits at tel (312) 286-1995 or by e-mail at ed@MinistryOfRum.com. Rum Clément is being distributed in the United States by Benjamin Jones, the grandson of the founder of Rum Clément, Mr Homère Clément. For more information, please contact Clément USA at tel (207) 232-6633 or by e-mail at ben.jones@rhums-clement.com.

Disclaimer: The information in this article/release was accurate at press time; however, we suggest you confirm all details and prices directly with vendors.
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