I am traveling to Martinique in February (rum inspired travel of course ). I have my list of distilleries to visit on the island, but would like to have more in depth tour of some distilleries and get more insight into the fabulous rum they produce on the island.
Has anybody been to the island and has valuable recommendations on which distilleries to visit? If yes, any specific people to write to that could provide more than the standard tours? Specifically looking for more insights into the production, history, blending and ideally tasting some unique rums.
PS: Not looking for any freebies here, just experiences off the standard path that are not very easily available/searchable, absolutely willing and committed to paying for the experience.
Since I am here already; I am going to start answering my own question for travelers who are headed to Martinique.
Landed in Fort de France, a bit jet lagged and tired, but didn’t let that hold me and the missus back from enjoying some Ti Punch and Le Planteur at Garage Popular. Both drinks served with a rhum blanc from Trois Rivières.
Before heading to the distillery took a small stroll around town to see what they have in terms of rum shops. I can confirm what others have said about buying rhum here in stores. Pricey and easily at a mark up of 30-50% over what we see in Europe.
I have unfortunately not visited Martinique personally but on the French rum groups there are people “reporting” from there almost every week. Saint James is apparently undergoing some renovations and a lot of it is closed right now which affects tour quality. Some people have been suggesting Clement and JM as more worthwhile rn. It’s not much but hope it helps a little!
Alright, back in the room and now going to start sharing some ramblings before my goldfish memory gets completely wiped out!
Some of you might probably know this already, but Martinique is breathtakingly beautiful and the people very warm and hospitable. I don’t speak any French, but the missus does, that definitely helps navigate the island much more easily.
Throughout the island you’ll see 3 things:
Not a surprise that these are the main pillars of the Martinique economy.
Chatted with some locals, needless to say they love their rhum. Neisson is the go to for Rhum Blanc and Rhum JM for Vieux. Depaz is also rated highly, but La Favorite and Mauny were frowned upon for some reason, I’ve got no clue why!
Now coming back to ones we visited. Today was travel day. Covered in the order below :
Summary: Overcrowded today (cruise ship had landed, hence why). Could see the creole stills, which was a nice touch. Shop was a bit underwhelming, but picked up some nice Rhum Blanc in Tatanka art work bottles which was a nice touch. Given the crowd, struggled to find someone knowledgeable to speak to.
Summary: Bit of a drive from Depaz, this was situated right up north in the island next to the North Atlantic coast. It’s situated in a very picturesque area. I was partially tempted to skip this thinking it was too far away and probably wouldn’t have been worth it. Definitely good idea to go visit. Tasted 12 rums here, some familiar and other new ones. The one that left the most lasting impression was the Rhum J.M. 2007. I am a total noob on Agricoles but man the nose on that was incredible, tasting it with the rest of the rhum vieux, nothing came close as far as the nose on the 2007.
PS: The only grouse I’ve had, all rhum vieux that I’ve tried today are all 40-47%, body leaves much to be desired. Rhum Blancs are all either 100 proof or higher
Summary: St James is on the way to Hardy which was the last stop today, about a 30 min drive from Rhum J.M. Distillery was off limits, likely due to ongoing work (not sure). Museum was quite fun! Tried a few rhums here including some of their latest releases, definitely interesting. It has a lovely old school feel to it. Missus was kind enough to chat with the folks in French, and I got some good dope on the rhums I was tasting.
PS: Definitely did not leave this place thirsty, last rhum was a sweet 73.2%. Left an impression on my cabbie, who was worried it would knock me out .
Summary: I don’t regret going here just because of the gorgeous view. This is situated in the eastern part of the island and is right next to the coast. Sadly, I should’ve done some research - their rhums are all made at St James, although they are starting to bring barrels here to rest in the next 3 months. They had 5 expressions which were quite nice. Lovely people as well, shared some more about their rhum. Source their cane juice from the estate right next door, pretty cool to see.
Thanks for sharing the travel description. I must say the frowning upon of Mauny and Favorite is surprising and perhaps more of an anecdotal nature? Have met plenty of fans of both with big ties to the island so not sure how indicative those particular locals are of a general attitude. If it is it’s the first I’ve heard of it!