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Sainte Rose, Guadeloupe French West Indies

A short walk south of the north coast road just outside Sainte Rose, follow the signs to the Musée du Rhum. If you are looking for another distillery you have found it but unfortunately the distillery itself is not open to the public at this time. The distillery can, however, be seen from the second floor of the museum which can be seen year round for a fee.

Inside the museum you can see the most complete collection of rum related machinery and paraphernalia in Guadeloupe. A well-produced video documents the production of rum in a relaxed air conditioned atmosphere, the only video of its kind shown in Guadeloupe. Next to the viewing area is a display of cane cutting knives used in different parts of the world. It is interesting how these tools have evolved as sugar cane spread around the world yet each identifies its geographic origin.

The art of barrel making is demonstrated in another display and rooms full of antiques relating to the rhum industry make this an entertaining stop on your island tour. The museum is being expanded and one of the most recent additions are forty reproductions of boats that follow the history of the island.

The distillery itself was built on this site by the Reimonenq family in 1916. Like most of the other distilleries in Guadeloupe the main product here is rhum agricole distilled from freshly squeezed sugar cane juice. Cane grown in the fields surrounding the distillery is processed here but instead of the steam powered cane mills employed at almost all of the other distilleries electric mills are used to crush the cane.

After the juice fills the stainless fermentation tanks it is fermented between twelve and twenty-four hours. After fermentation, the fermented vin is distilled in an unique single-column still. In this stainless steel still the vin is heated indirectly and not by live steam passing from the bottom to the top of the column. In most stills the alcohol is stripped from the fermented vin by hot steam vapor. This still works more like a conventional heat exchanger where the vin is not exposed directly to the live steam but the alcohol is boiled by the heat in the still to be condensed after it leaves the column.

The heat exchanger design provides better temperature control of the process but unlike most other continuous stills, the first alcohol from the still, the heads, are discarded. This unique process yields what is considered a special rhum for cocktails by the distillery. Temperature is a very important factor in the distillation process but this is the only distillery in this part of the world to employ this kind of still.

After distillation some of the rhum is bottled as rhum blanc. The balance that will become rhum vieux is blended with water to reduce the alcohol content to 65 to 75° before it is aged in oak barrels. All of the rhum vieux is aged at least three years depending on demand. Nearly all of the 120,000 liters of rhum produced annually is sold locally in Guadeloupe or exported to France.

All of the products under this label are distilled and bottled here at the distillery. The Musée du Rhum Rhum Blanc has won a number of awards at the Concours Général in Paris that can be seen on the label. A special Coeur de Chauffe is also bottled here at both 40 and 50% alcohol by volume.

In addition to the rhums bottled here several fruit-based liqueurs are made here from natural orange peel, coconut, and spices. The interest in these sweet liqueurs is growing and I expect more of these to become available in the export market in the future.

The museum is open Monday through Saturday 9:00 to 17:00. For further information contact the distillery directly at 28 70 04.
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There are 2 products in our database distilled by Musée de Rhum.
Coeur de Chauffe Guadeloupe
Rhum Vieux 1993

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Last updated January 3, 2011