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Rhum Agricole

Fresh sugar cane juice rhum from the French islands.


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Old 04-01-2008, 07:20 AM   #1
Edward Hamilton
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Default AOC and what it means

The Appelation d’Origine Contrôlée mark is unique to the rhum of Martinique and was adopted by the Martinique distillers in 1996 after many years of work to establish a meaningful way to promote what were agreed by the distillers to be best practices within their industry.

According to the French definition rhum agricole is alcohol made from freshly squeezed sugar cane juice distilled to not more than 75% abv. In order to be called rhum vieux, or old rum, it must be aged at least three years in barrels of less than 650 liter capacity.

At this time, only Martinique has an AOC mark and all rhum agricole from Martinique must bear this mark. Guadeloupe and other French islands such as Reunion, Guadeloupe and Marie Galante also make rhum agricole and although some of the rhum from these islands would qualify on most counts to be considered rhum agricole under the Martinique standards, it is not AOC Martinique rhum agricole.

One innovative bottler in France has begun bottling what he calls Martinique Rhum Agricole with an Appelation Rhum Contrôlée. I have only recently tasted this rhum and after spending more than 15 years enjoying the rhums of Martinique and Guadeloupe I can say without hesitation that it did not originate from any producer who has been making rhum agricole on Martinique in the last 15 years.

That producer also bottles a dark rum which is not labeled Rhum Vieux and does not appear to be aged in the French islands.

In the past three years a growing number of rum distillers have begun to call their product agricultural rum. This term is simply a translation of the words rhum agricole, and only one or two of these rums are actually made from sugar cane juice and none are distilled to less than 75% abv.

Among the French distillers rum made from molasses is called rhum industriel or rhum traditionnel. It has been suggested that this was another act of snobbery by the French to discredit other rum producers by calling their product simply industrial rum. However, it should be noted that only a few years ago Martinique produced almost equal amounts of rhum agricole and rhum industriel.

In the French islands you will never see the rhum industriel on a label, though all rum made from molasses is labeled rhum traditionnel.

For the consumer one of the big differences between rhum agricole and molasses-based rums is that in the French islands white is never aged while many white rum producing countries have regulations requiring white rum to be aged up to two years before being bottled. All of these rums are carbon filtered to remove the color gained during aging.

The following posts were moved to this thread after a previous member deleted all of his posts so you may notice some discontinuities of thought and reference. To further the goal of better understanding and appreciation of all sugar cane spirits through open, friendly discussion I have not edited other members posts.
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Old 04-01-2008, 02:44 PM   #2
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Default AOC and what it means

It seems that Ed may have sources of information to which we are not all privy. The good Capn's posts with respect to the origin of Rhum Barbancourt have consistently ignored that possibility.

The agreement and AOC designation in Martinique seems more an attempt to ensure that the particular qualities of Martinique Rhum Agricole are preserved and not swept aside by profit seeking or misguided modernization efforts. In short, it seems intended to maintain diversity and to avoid loss of quality or character.

Last edited by Michael; 04-01-2008 at 04:32 PM.
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Old 04-01-2008, 02:52 PM   #3
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Did anyone notice that one of the recent Ybor City medal winners in agricole rums was not from Martinique???
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Old 04-01-2008, 08:26 PM   #4
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Congratulations Daniel.

We hope to have the opportunity to try Temptryst Rums soon.
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Old 04-01-2008, 09:19 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Michael View Post
The agreement and AOC designation in Martinique seems more an attempt to ensure that the particular qualities of Martinique Rhum Agricole are preserved and not swept aside by profit seeking or misguided modernization efforts. In short, it seems intended to maintain diversity and to avoid loss of quality or character.
Thank you Michael for that observation. In effect anyone can call their rum agricole since that term isn't defined anywhere other than Martinique but in all of the French departments rhum agricole is accepted to be distilled from sugar cane juice to about 72% abv. Under the AOC regulations the type of cane, etc. is also defined.

Essentially, at this point in time I don't know why anyone would call their rum 'agricole', a French word, unless they thought it gave their spirit a better chance to be associated with what are generally known to be good spirits. The quality of rhum agricole varies widely as do rums made from molasses.
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Old 04-01-2008, 09:22 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by angelsword View Post
Did anyone notice that one of the recent Ybor City medal winners in agricole rums was not from Martinique???
Is this rum made from fresh sugar cane juice and distilled to about 72% abv or is it possible that the brand name is simply agricole?

As I have posted elsewhere, rum blenders and bottlers can do pretty much what they want to outside the French islands where rhum agricole can only be made from fresh sugar cane juice and distilled to about 72%abv.
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Old 04-01-2008, 09:30 PM   #7
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Accordingly it is fair to say that, at least in Martinique, we are presented with very, very expensive rhums by regulation.
I disagree that it is fair to say that in Martinique we are presented with very, very expensive rhums by regulation.

Even in the US, a liter of La Favorite Blanc 100 proof rhum agricole from Martinique currently sells for about $30 which corresponds to a 750ml bottled at 80 proof costing about $18. Considering that this AOC Martinique rhum agricole can only be made a few months a year and Martinique labor is not cheap this rhum can hardly be called expensive. Though I expect this price to go up in light of the value of the euro compared to the yankee dollar.

There are other Martinique rhums which are much more expensive, some are worth the money, some aren't.
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Old 04-01-2008, 09:32 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Edward Hamilton View Post
Is this rum made from fresh sugar cane juice and distilled to about 72% abv or is it possible that the brand name is simply agricole?
Temptryst Texas Agricole Rum. Made from fresh cane juice, to about 70%.
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Last edited by angelsword; 04-01-2008 at 09:36 PM.
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Old 04-01-2008, 09:38 PM   #9
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That sounds very interesting I look forward to tasting it. But you know I'm a tough judge.
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Old 04-01-2008, 10:10 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Edward Hamilton View Post
That sounds very interesting. I look forward to tasting it. But you know I'm a tough judge.
I must have finished my personal bottle before our visit in Orlando! Oh well, New Orleans is coming soon.
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