Rhum agricole begins with only freshly-squeezed sugar cane juice and not the cheaper molasses by-product of the sugar making industry. And since rhum agricole can be made only when the sugar cane crop is at the peak of maturity, production is limited to the short tropical dry season. The first weeks of the year, the hard stalks of cane are harvested. Then steam-powered cane mills at French West Indies distilleries crush the stalks releasing the sugar-laden juice.
The freshly-squeezed juice is collected in large vats where it is fermented to make a sugar cane wine, called vesou. Once fermentation is complete, the vesou is distilled in single-column stills to about 70% alcohol to capture as much of the fresh flavor and character of the fermented sugar cane juice as possible. Much of the distillation equipment employed in the islands was built by coppersmiths in France who also build stills for the brandy and cognac industry.
After distillation, the crystal-clear spirit is allowed to rest in large vats from one to six months while the tropical flavor blossoms. At this point in the process, some rhum agricole is bottled as rhum blanc and enjoyed as an aperitif in cocktails.
The remainder of the fresh rhum is put in oak barrels to age. A variety of used and new barrels are used to age these rhums. During the years spent aging, the spirit mellows and takes on smoky wood and warm vanilla flavors from the casks. Tannins in the wood also impart a rich, copper hue to the maturing spirit.
According to French West Indies law, after three years the aged rhum can be called rhum vieux, or old rhum, though some are aged much longer. These aged rhums are commonly enjoyed after dinner, neat or with a little ice or water on the side, though they also lend themselves to premium cocktails.
Located in the middle of the Caribbean island chain, the French West Indies islands of Martinique, Guadeloupe and Marie Galante are home to RHUM AGRICOLE, a sugar cane juice spirit that compares favorably with the most luxurious cognacs and armagnacs in the world.
Depaz Rhum Agricole Production