Martinique, Land of Grands Rhums
artinique is known as the rum capital of the world—and with good reason. The French Caribbean island’s 11 distilleries are the only ones in the world to have been awarded the prestigious AOC (appellation d’origine contrôlée), the same designation that recognizes certain exceptional wines of France. Martinican rums are distinguished by the unique rhum agricole production technique: freshly pressed juice from locally grown sugar cane is fermented and distilled before being rested or aged in oak barrels. The results range from white rum—excellent in a Ti-Punch cocktail, a national favorite that mixes the spirit with sugar cane syrup and lime juice—to aged dark rum, comparable to a fine cognac and best enjoyed neat. Martinique also produces a variety of rum-based liqueurs made with local ingre-
48 THIRD QUARTER 2018 | TRAVEL & CRUISE
dients such as coconut and passionfruit; perhaps the best-known example is Rhum Clément’s Créole Shrubb, a blend of rhum agricole, orange peel, and Creole spices. By traveling La Route des Grands Rhums to distilleries all over the island, visitors will get a firsthand look at the production process and have opportunities to sample Martinique’s most celebrated rums, including heritage brands Rhum J.M, Rhum Neisson, and Rhum Saint-James. Many distilleries boast stun-
ning natural surroundings: Distillerie Depaz, in Saint-Pierre, operates out of an elegant estate at the foot of the Mount Pelée volcano, while Habitation SaintÉtienne, in Gros-Morne, is nestled among lush gardens. In the south, the La Mauny and Trois Rivières distilleries are not to be missed. No matter where they end up, connoisseurs won’t be able to resist the chance to bring home a bottle or two to share rhum agricole’s earthy, complex flavors with friends and loved ones.