Rhum Agricole is produced in the French Antilles. Rather than distilling molasses - essentially a by-product of sugar production - whole sugar canes are juiced and then fermented. This method is not dissimilar to the production of Cognac. One can further draw parallels between the two eaux-de-vie; both boast their own Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée and can claim a unique terroir. Martinique was a hub for sugar production during the late 1800s and a chief exporter to Europe. The sugar was of the highest quality, though Martinique was eventually out-produced by the South and Central American plantations. The Europeans began importing the cheaper sugar from the mainland and many Martiniquean plantations were put out of business. In a bid to provide work for the local populace, the mayor of Le François, Homère Clément, acquired the Domaine de l’Acajou plantation and focussed on garnering the crop for spirit production. In true entrepreneurial style, Clément imitated the methods of Cognac production, creating rhum agricole, and he is widely reputed to be rhum agricole’s spiritual patriach. The Clément range of rhums agricole uses Cognac grading; there are both VSOP and XO expressions.
Le François, Martinique