Monday, April 15, 2024

A Journey to the Middle of the Agricole World half 2

Rhum J.M blanc and sugar cane: The Harvest

Much less than 48 hours in Martinique and intoxicated by its nature and the spirit of Agricole it yields, fairly actually, I start once more. Right now, we had been off to see the harvest at Rhum J.M; these sturdy agricole legs seen inside my glass final night time, now, firmly beneath me. The journey up north is put up card good; spectacular cliffs and ocean views to your proper, lengthy sugar cane stalks blowing within the wind to your left. The reality is, Martinique views demand a leisurely journey and recommend that stop-off for a ‘Ti Punch is greater than obligatory. Oh yeah!

Rhum J.M sugar cane fields beneath Mt. Pelee

The arrival to the cane fields of Rhum J.M is magical. We drive up an unmarked pathway into what resembles extra of a sugar cane labyrinth on the base of Montagne Pelée. Our first cease is on the water supply, an underground volcanic spring. This mineral laden spring water is used periodically to water the crops however has important affect on the soil under.

All of us cease to style the holy water because the clouds go rapidly above nearly dancing with the sunshine of the Martinique solar. The local weather on the North finish of the island is noticeably extra arid than its southern components. If the highly effective view of tall sugar cane going as much as the footings of Mont Pelée would not make your mouth open vast in awe, the view of it instantly behind you could pull on just a few coronary heart strings and make sure you will have discovered some form of heaven on Earth. Certainly, one needn’t die to expertise such bliss, merely go to the area of Martinique often called Habitation Fonds-Préville.

The view

Rhum J.M sugar cane fields above the Atlantic Ocean

Banana bushel

There’s a small manufacturing facility situated simply earlier than getting into Rhum J.M’s sugar cane fields; nonetheless, it’s processing the fruit of a distinct form of crop, bananas. One can see banana timber rising adjoining to the sugar cane fields; their bushels wrapped up in blue luggage. It’s between the sugar cane and banana vegetation {that a} synergistic microclimate exists. The soil’s composition and water are influenced by the banana vegetation which positively affect the sugar cane high quality and amount every year.

Premium Banane

The sugar cane and banana crops are rotated each few years to create optimum soil situations. One can plainly see how sugar cane, rising on this distinctive atmosphere, impacts the character of fresh-pressed cane juice and its subsequent distillate often called Rhum Agricole.

Tally me bananas!

Banana timber at Rhum J.M
Harvest time at Habitation Bellevue, Rhum J.M

We arrive simply in time to witness the harvest. The scene is reasonably spectacular and barely terrifying. Up till 1998, the fields had been harvested the outdated trend means; males baring machetes. Now, The Harvester is employed. A machine to enhance effectivity of the method for positive; slicing low to the bottom whereas concurrently decapitating the cane’s grassy head. It strikes ahead capturing every sugar cane stalk, slicing them into shorter segments earlier than being emptied into the container following the tractor behind. This machine not solely decreases the period of time it takes to chop the sugar cane, however extra importantly retains cane slicing in tempo with the distillery tempo. This form of management, in impact, improves the standard and amount of the sugar cane juice yield. Wow!

Let’s get a better look!

The Harvester

 Check out The Harvester in motion in the course of the Harvest!


We adopted the truck filled with recent minimize sugar cane stalks via the dense foliage down the hill to the distillery. The sugar cane was emptied right into a gravity-fed holding bin simply earlier than it was pressed. I’ll be aware right here that it took round 30 minutes from when the sugar cane was minimize till it was pressed. Rhum J.M’s sugar cane is fresh-pressed undoubtedly!!

La Distillerie du Fonds-Préville

Right now, their distillery, which started in 1845 by Jean-Marie Martin, is alive and properly. Sugar cane stalks are first shredded earlier than they’re pressed for his or her juice. Water is used all through to maximise the quantity of sugar cane juice obtained in the course of the three cycles of urgent. The juice or vesou is collected and pumped into containers for fermentation. It takes 2 hours to fill every container holding 23,000 liters. For those who do the maths, that is 3.2 liters per second. There are 11 containers on website. We’re informed that baker’s yeast is added to every container earlier than being stuffed to agitate the combination amidst loads of oxygen. This ensures the correct situations for fermentation.

Under are just a few moments capturing the Distillery scene up shut

Water irrigation in sugar cane press

Sugar cane juice collected earlier than fermentation

Recent-pressed vesou or sugar cane juice

Fermentation happens for 36-48 hours yielding a vin de canne (sugar cane wine) of 5-7% ABV.


The place Rhum Agricole is made!

Rhum J.M Créole Copper Column Stills

 A tasting instantly off the nonetheless?

Properly, alright, if I need to!

Recent Distillate

We’ve got mentioned that Agricole have to be distilled to between “65 and 75 levels” per AOC necessities. However, simply in case, here is the proof…

Myself and Mr. Nazaire Canatous, Grasp Distiller (proper)
Rhum J.M Creole Copper Stills

I do not typically embrace photographs of myself in evaluations however right here is a particular story essential to respect the continuity of care discovered within the distillation of Rhum J.M. Their Grasp Distiller, Nazaire Canatous, might be seen within the photograph on the fitting. Rhum J.M has been distilled by him and his father, Pascal (aka Emile Bolnet), repeatedly for the previous 83 years. His father, nicknamed, “Misie Paco” which means Mister Pascal in Creole, distilled 40 vintages. His son, Nazaire, started working on the lowest degree cleansing bottles and has risen in rank to fill his sneakers. Right now, he oversees his forty third classic of Rhum J.M this 12 months. Realizing that the information and abilities of this artwork has handed from father to son over this a few years is exceptional. We style the distillate and it speaks for itself. It’s great studying that Rhum J.M shouldn’t be solely the oldest “single-domaine” rhumerie remaining in Martinique, however that its distillation could also be thought to be “single-family” too. It’s clear the model’s homeowners respect time and custom. The golden thought set forth by Jean Marie-Martin continues in the present day. Respect!!

Now off to the getting older cellars…

Retrieving barrels on the Rhum J.M Growing old Warehouse

 Aged rhum in caks are being pulled down and drained for bottling

Rhum J.M cask being emptied

The cellar was noticeably humid, however not muggy in a nasty means, for the air was concentrated with aromas of getting older agricole and wooden, nearly drinkable. Regardless of what one learns about osmoreceptors in medical physiology, one other thirst meter was at work and I used to be overwhelmed with an intense urge to fulfill it with all of the agricole earlier than me. We enter considered one of two getting older cellars every holding 1700 barrels. Sure! Emmanuel Becheau of Rhum J.M interjects how they label the casks as we attempt to decipher which classic is during which cask whereas making our means deeper inside the cellar. On the different finish, tulip formed glasses are handed round for a tasting. My mouth slowly opens. Wait, what’s this happening in entrance of us? Casks are being pulled down by a number of males to be emptied previous to bottling. Emmanuel tells us that every 12 months rum is being put aside for the 10yr and 15yr vintages to be bottled at cask power. The tasting commenced with samples taken straight from the cask. We start with youthful rhums, shifting on to 10yr and ending with the oldest classic (1996) within the cellar. The rhum enters the barrels at 60% ABV; first in new barrels, then completed in as soon as used bourbon. The wooden is all American Oak. We’re informed the angels share features a 8% quantity loss yearly with a change of 1 diploma alcohol because of humidity loss. It would not must be said, however the angels are reasonably spoiled right here at Rhum J.M.

Rhumerie J.M

We end the straight-from-the-cask tasting and proceed right down to the boutique tasting room. Inside one finds a considerate design. The entry consists of training on the historical past and manufacturing of Rhum J.M as properly a channel to show the spring water. The motion, nonetheless, is over to the fitting, whereby lays the tasting room and retail space. Bottles line the show encompassing a complete wall. As soon as distilled, every classic is rested for 4 to 6 months in stainless-steel containers. Then, It might be lowered by roughly 2 levels (% ABV) each 2 weeks to bottling power within the case of rhum blanc or go instantly into casks for getting older. My eyes, barely overwhelmed by the vary of expressions on show, start to give attention to Emmanuel as he began discussing ‘Ti Punch blanc, then “Ti Punch vieux after which, extra mature rhum training ensues…

‘Ti Punch o’clock!

Emmanuele Becheau making ready ‘Ti Punch Blanc

For the total story (with video presentation) on ‘Ti Punch, learn our article right here.

The show of Rhum J.M bottles on the market is sensible!

Elegant Rhum J.M show

It is not sufficient to finish with one other spherical of ‘Ti Punches. We pattern all of them….

Rhum J.M tasting bar
 Seeing first hand, this distinctive mountain-side local weather, is believing. It’s in fields of volcanic soil and mineral wealthy springs, co-habited with banana vegetation underneath the tropical Martinique solar, this rhum’s true character is born. It is on this distinctive microcosm of Martinque terrior their well-known sugar cane rises and Rhum J.M is grown. It might appear, even on Martinque, we usually are not simply speaking about “Rhum” any longer, however of a particular variant the place the parallels with wine and terrior are rather more closely concerned. People, allow us to be clear with our phrases, we’re speaking a couple of sure Rhum Agricole; particularly that of the J.M lineage.

I take pleasure in one other sip of the Rhum J.M Cuvée du Fondateur (solely accessible on website) earlier than departure.


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