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Go Back   Rum Lovers @ the Ministry of Rum > Sugar Cane Spirits > Rhum Agricole
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Rhum Agricole

Fresh sugar cane juice rhum from the French islands.


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Old 07-06-2010, 12:03 PM   #1
Patapouf
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Default AOC, why?

I've been having difficulty wrapping my head around the designation of AOC rhums from Martinique. Usually, I tend to think that AOC's are there to protect a higher quality product that is the result of specific processes and environmental specific conditions ('terroir').

I do like the idea of clear standards, and such, to insure you're buying the product they say they are producing. But, what does Martinique have over, let's use the example of, Barbancourt in Haiti?

Do the climate and geography do that much of a diffrence in Martinique to deserve a designation to separate its products? Does the process of using cane juice any different than Haiti?

This is not a Barbancourt vs. Martinique rant, I've just never tried any other agricoles from other countries (Guadeloupe, etc). Having tried agricoles from JM, Saint James and from Barbancourt, I'd have no problem putting the last on top of my list of quality and taste. I know preferences are in the eye of the beholder.

My goal isn't to flame upon agricoles from Martinique, as I know I still have tons to try. I'd love to have a dicussion around this subject so that it can grow clearer in my mind.


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Old 07-06-2010, 12:20 PM   #2
lalie003
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hi!

The AOC is here to establish a minimum quality!

1) The soil where cane grow doesn't matter! It is not like in wine where the climate and soil are very important. When you grow sugare cane you "only" try to have the more sugar potential in the plant. They are different type of cane only a few are allowed in Martinique Because of the volcanic soil they found that only those were good enought to produce sugar.

2) Because of the french history and the island history on producing rhum they decided that only column still were allowed!

This AOC system is to guarantee a minimum quality, and produce true martinique rhum: I am here talking about the tast and the "spirit".


Also the VO(3yrs) VSOP(4yrs) XO(5to7yrs) classification help the consumer to know the age of the rhum. unfortunatly their is nothing after XO... :-(

hope that will help
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Old 07-06-2010, 12:40 PM   #3
Patapouf
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Merci pour l'information Lalie!

How were the prices affected when the AOC was implemented? Granted, inflation can make it difficult to compare prices, I'm under the impression that prices might have risen sharply.

Instead of government controlled AOC's, I'd love to see associations of rum producers created to ensure a minimum quality. Possible members would have follow some specific guidelines to ensure quality to join the association. The ACR could be an example : http://www.truerum.com/exploring/aut...bbean-rum.ashx
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Old 07-06-2010, 12:55 PM   #4
Ben
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Hi Patapouf,

I like Barbancourt, but their statement about their rum being straight from sugar cane juice has been questioned in the past. I don't see it in the same type of rum than AOC Martinique rum.

You have to try Rhum Clement VSOP. It is available in New Hampshire for under 40$.

My 2 cents.
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Old 07-06-2010, 01:05 PM   #5
Patapouf
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ben View Post
I like Barbancourt, but their statement about their rum being straight from sugar cane juice has been questioned in the past. I don't see it in the same type of rum than AOC Martinique rum.
I'd have to do a head to head to compare the subtleties, but I'd have to respectfully disagree with you. I find them very similar. It may be my limited experience with agricoles though...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ben View Post
You have to try Rhum Clement VSOP. It is available in New Hampshire for under 40$.
Yes indeed! I've had many recommendations. I'll get my greedy hands on it one day!

Thanks for your input.
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Old 07-07-2010, 03:15 AM   #6
bunnyhugs
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I think the main function of the AOC is just to let you know what you're getting.

Someone mentioned above that Martinique agricole rums use a column still. I thought they were pot-distilled?

I also thought Martinique agricole rums were distilled to a relatively low purity (i.e. alcoholic strength) of somewhere around the 75%/vol mark.

That makes Martiniuqe agricoles very different to (for example) Cuban rums, which (at least according to the info put out by Havana Club) are primarily based on extremely pure distillate with an alcoholic strength of over 90% (i.e. they are approaching vodka territory).

A key difference (to my mind perhaps the key difference) between Barbancourt and Martinique agricoles, is that (a little like Cuban rums) Barbancourt is distilled to very high purity. So you have the cane flavors, but they are muted compared to the Martinique agricoles.

Another difference is that at certain times of the year Barbancourt admits to using concentrated sugar cane syrup to bulk out its sugar cane juice. The Martinique agricoles supposedly do not do this, though some claim they do.

One more difference to consider is that Barbancourt use alot of very old and very large barrels - reducing the influence of wood on their rums.

Comes down to personal preference. Some might say Barbancourt lacks flavor. Others might find Martinique agricoles a bit full flavored, even 'rough'.

I like both.
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Old 07-07-2010, 04:33 AM   #7
lalie003
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I checked this morning about the still! and they all have to use column still!

I think pot still are originated from the english cultur!

Prices have gone up since 1996 (birth of the AOC) because they now have to follow a lot of new laws...But I can't really tell you I am 22yrs old so in 96 I was 8 and I didn't by Rhum ;-)

But still you don't have to forget that rhum agricole is born to save the local industry...Traditional rum are made from molasse!
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Old 07-07-2010, 09:21 AM   #8
Patapouf
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Thanks for the info bunnyhugs. I didn't know agricoles from Martinique were distilled so low, especially compared to Barbancourt.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lalie003 View Post
But still you don't have to forget that rhum agricole is born to save the local industry...Traditional rum are made from molasse!
I'm not sure I understand what you meant here. Are you saying the AOC was implemented to save the local rhum industry? I'd love to see statistics showing me that it's working, if that's the case.
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Old 07-07-2010, 11:04 AM   #9
lalie003
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because the sugar industry was declining they decided to save employement and the local market (all the market of the french Island mainly based on the production of raw material and especialy food).

It is why they decided to produce rhum agricole.

I think the only remaining sugar factory is Dillon.

The process of making rum changed to save the local economy...but that is part of the french rhum!

If they didn't act like that I think they would be less distillery one the Island...like other english and spanish island.

cheers
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Old 07-07-2010, 02:59 PM   #10
Patapouf
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lalie003 View Post
because the sugar industry was declining they decided to save employement and the local market (all the market of the french Island mainly based on the production of raw material and especialy food).

It is why they decided to produce rhum agricole.

I think the only remaining sugar factory is Dillon.

The process of making rum changed to save the local economy...but that is part of the french rhum!

If they didn't act like that I think they would be less distillery one the Island...like other english and spanish island.

cheers
Lalie

Thanks for the replies and the great information. AOC's, in my mind, seemed to be a sort of state protectionism for uncompetitive markets, but I also see the positive side, in that it creates a fairly predictable or consistent product. IMHO, I believe that dishonest companies, such as those lying about their products, will eventually be discovered by the consumer and face the 'wrath' of his unhappiness (lower sales). Call me a free market traditionalist...

I suppose, too, that a rum producer in Martinique is not limited to produce agricoles nor does it need to follow the strict guidelines. It just won't benefit from the 'protection' of the AOC, although it could be a superior product.
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