Rhum vs. Rum
The simple difference between Rum and Rhum Agricole is that RUM is always made from Molasses (an industrial by product of sugar production) while Rhum Agricole is made DIRECTLY from freshly pressed sugarcane juice. Rhum Agricole can be made only when the sugarcane is at its peak of maturity, limiting production to a short season of approximately three months – from early March in southern Martinique through late May in northern Martinique. Upon harvest, the sugarcane is immediately pressed to extract the free run juice, which naturally ferments with organic yeast from the outside sheath of the sugarcane stalks, producing Yin de Canne or sugar wine.
Since 1996, the agricultural rhums, such as Rhum Clement, from Martinique are the only rums granted with a French Appellation d’Origine Controlee (A.O.C.). A.O.C. Martinique Rhum Agricole is at the top of the official French quality scale and must comply with legal restrictions on cane varieties, yield, distillation, aging, and especially production zone.
The careful production process of Rhum Agricole results in a pure spirit, encompassing the natural aromas and earthy, vegetal character of the sugarcane that is only present in A.O.C. Martinique Rhum Agricole.
“The difference between Rhum Agricole and other rums has been compared to the difference between American Whiskey and Single Malt,” says Benjamin MelinJones, Managing Director of Rhum Clement,
“It’s a different fresh vegetal and dry flavor profile not seen in any other style of rum, and its distinctive character is derived directly from Martinique’s terroir and its glorious sugarcane.”
The bulbous aromas and classic cane flavors in Rhum Agricole are captured in the long fermentation process and a lower distilling ABV. This makes for a sharp contrast with molasses based rums. If the sugar is cooked in the process, the finer qualities of the terroir and the dry grassy herbaceous flavors from the sugarcane get stripped from the spirit.
Rhum Agricole production in Martinique was conceived in 1887, when Homere Clement purchased Domaine de l’Acajou in Martinique and converted it into a Rhum Agricole plantation and distillery. At the height of the great sugar crisis, sugar production came to a halt and the molasses, from which rum was distilled, was no longer available. Homere analyzed and mimicked the French distillers of great Armagnacs to perfect his method of rum production known today as Rhum Agricole. He treated the sugarcane like a fruit and pressed them like grapes to extract their fresh natural juice and fermented a wine to distill into an eau de vie. The complexities and nuances of Rhum Agricole are now being re discovered by a new generation of rum connoisseurs. The unique flavor profile of Rhum Agricole makes way for the creation of stellar and memorable rum cocktails, capturing the attention of the growing mixology community and cocktail aficionados. The aged varieties are comparable to fine small batch Bourbons, Single Malts and Cognacs; and are becoming increasingly recognized as smooth and stellar sipping spirits.