Rhum agricole, Industrial rum, Traditional rum... Differences ?
Main differences between rhum agricole and industrial or traditional rum can be found in the production process and more specificaly in the raw materials used. Both rums are distilled from a fermented liquid wich contains sugar from sugarcane :
- For rhum agricole, the sugar solution called "vesou" is made from fresh sugarcane juice;
- For industrial (also called traditional) rum, the sugar solution is made from molasses (sugar production by products) and water;
- There also a rum made from heated vesou also called rhum batterie, a close parent of rhum agricole where the vesou (sugarcane juice) has been heated to concentrate aromas. This rhum once a speciality of the St James Distillery has today almost disappeared.
The industrial rum production process is more repeatable and guarantees a standardized output. Variability among industrial rums is more due to distillation columns and aging practices. Rgum agricole offers more variability. Each rhum agricole represents the result of a combination of influences of distillation column used and aging skills of the producer but also variability in the lands where sugarcane was grown. Fresh sugarcane juice ensures through fermentation a wider variety of aromas. Those aromas can even change through the production campaign, creating specials blends such as "Fleur de canne" (cane flower) a St James Distillery prized blend. This land caracterisation granted Martinique rhum agricole the opportunity of earning a protected designation of origin.
The AOC Martinique rhum agricole also guarantees you that the color of its aged rhums come exclusively from long exposure to oak barrel wood and not from caramel as it is the cas for many indsutrial rums.
"Rhum industriel", "rhum traditionnel" & "rhum grand arôme" designations.
"Rhum traditionnel" and "Rhum industriel" designations are equivalent. Both of them mean that the rum was made through distillation of fermented molasses. The "traditionnel" designation being more favourably connoted, is of course more common.
"Rhum grand arôme" designation indicates that the rum was produced using a mix of vinasse (residue left in a still after the process of distillation) and molasses which had been left for fermentation during a long period of time. This kind of rum therefore develops a very strong aroma. This rum is typically used in bakery and cooking.