Martinique rhum


sugar factory 19th centuryA production with roots in history

Rhum history in Martinique starts in 1640 when sugarcane is introduced into the island. Sugarcane is cultivated for the sole goal of producing sugar, but the by products (waters, molasses, ...) are fermented and distilled to produce a spirit locally known as tafia or guildive (probabbly from kill devil).
This use is described as early as 1667 by the priest "Père du Tertre" in his book "Histoire générale des Antilles habitées par les François" (General history of the French West Indies). Several by-products used to produce spirits are listed in this book. One of the most widely used is a a juice called "Vésoü" which properly fermented and distilled gives "une boisson qui se débite fort bien dans les isles" (a beverage widely produced and consumed in the islands).

 

logo AOC MartiniqueA production with a trademark

Rhum production and more specifically AOC rhum agricole accounts for 21% of the  martinique's agricultural GDP1.  Most of it is sent to the French mainland and in its overall majority it's AOC rhum agricole. The Gallion plant, a sugar producing facility produces molasse rum (locally called traditionnal rhum) from the by produced molasses.
Rhum agricole production enjoys since 1996 an AOC "Appellation d'origine contrôlée Martinique" (Protected Designation of Origin).
For many years, rum produced in French overseas regions (Martinique - Guadeloupe - Réunion - Guyane) have been awarded a special tax status by the European Community. This special tax status has been extented on June, 27 2007 for the years to come and the maximum volume of rum which can benefit from the tax exemption has been raised from 90'000 to 108'000 H.P.A. of which 33'000 H.P.A. for Martinique produced rums.

 

Production trends

Rhum production trends are :