- In contrast to the water-powered cane mills on the mountainous island of Basse-Terre, windmill foundations dot the low-lying countryside of Grand-Terre. Each of these foundations represents the remains of a small sugar mill, most of which included a still.
The hollow foundation of one of these windmills that faced the easterly trade winds stands next to the new visitors center at the Distillerie Bellevue. Before the end of the last century steam power replaced this windmill to increase production at a time when sugar was a very lucrative crop.
In 1942, Roger Damoiseau bought the distillery. Today, his grandsons, Jean Luc and Evre Damoiseau, operate the only surviving distillery on the island.
In and around the visitors center, a collection of sugar mill and distillery equipment from the last hundred years gives the visitor a glimpse of the historical development of this operation.
Some of the cane processed here is still cut by hand from the surrounding fields, just as it has been for centuries. The rest of the raw sugar cane is trucked in from all over the island. The small farmer, unloading his harvest next to mammoth trailers of machine-cut cane, offers quite a contrast at the modernized facility.
Once pressed, the cane juice is fermented for thirty-six hours prior to being distilled to about 72° in the single, copper-and-stainless steel distillation column. Stainless steel is used in the lower sections of the column to help reduce the maintenance associated with a copper column. The top of the column is made of copper to reduce the amount of sulfur compounds formed during fermentation from affecting the taste of the final distillate.
After distillation, the rhum is either diluted to 50° for bottling or put in oak barrels for aging in the sheet-metal building that also houses the bottling operation. Damoiseau is one of the few distilleries in Guadeloupe that bottles rhum paille - rhum that has been aged less than the three years required to be called rhum vieux. Damoiseau Rhum Paille is aged one year and is predictably smoother than the unaged rhum blanc. Rhum paille is also slightly more expensive than the more popular rhum blanc. In addition to the usual one-liter and 70cl bottles, rhum blanc is also sold at the distillery in hand-painted bottles that are popular souvenirs.
Depending on demand and availability, Damoiseau Rhum Vieux is aged five or six years before it is bottled at 45°. Damoiseau also bottles a rare, 15-year-old rhum. If you like the more mature rhums from the French West Indies, this aged spirit may suit your taste.
To complement the rhum agricole produced here, the distillery also bottles a large selection of rhum punches. Orange, passion fruit, coconut, planters, and Kimbe Rand (claimed to be an aphrodisiac) are only some of the punches available at the visitors center and gift shop.
Most distilleries in the French West Indies distill alcohol less than half the year, during the cane cutting season. Here, when sugar cane is out of season, molasses from a sugar factory is trucked to the distillery to be fermented. Since bagasse from the cane is not available, fuel oil is burned to generate the steam for distillation. All of this alcohol, called rhum industriel, is shipped in bulk tanks to France for blending and bottling under other labels. But in Guadeloupe, all of the rhum sold under the Damoiseau label is rhum agricole.
Damoiseau is one of the larger production distilleries in Guadeloupe and a popular tourist destination. Both Jean Luc and Evre Damoiseau want to make this a memorable experience for everyone who takes the time to visit their distillery on the eastern side of the butterfly islands of Guadeloupe.
- There are 3 products in our database distilled by Distillerie Damoiseau.
- Damoiseau Rhum Blanc
- Damoiseau Rhum Dore
- Damoiseau Rhum Vieux