Agricole is becoming more and more frequent within bars across the UK as bartenders are starting to embrace its sugar cane juice qualities. There are numerous brands leading the way, including Rhum Clément of Martinique, part of the French Caribbean Islands that also includes the likes of Guadeloupe and Saint-Barthélemy.
It’s Rhum Clément I’ll be focusing on here, looking back from the late 1800’s to the modern-day.
1887 is where we start with the purchase of the prestigious 43 hectare sugar plantation, Domaine de L’Acajou by a gentleman named Homère Clément, a physician and mayor of Le François. It’s here he pioneered Rhum Agricole. In 1917, Homère Clément created a distillery to fulfill the large request of alcohol during the first World War, using the fresh free-run sugarcane juice available to him.
After the death of Homère Clément in 1923, his son Charles Clément took over the business. He is credited with perfecting his family’s Rhum Agricole method and honed his craft while studying distillation at the famous Louis Pasteur School in France. It was Charles Clément who first bottled Rhum Agricole in Martinique and branded it after his father. Charles Clément was also the first to export bottles of Martinique Rhum Agricole and developed France as the first great market for Rhum Agricole outside of the Caribbean.
In 1973, Charles Clément passed away, succeeded by his son, Georges-Louis, who was in charge of production and his two brothers Jean-José and Marcel-André, who increased the visibility of Rhum Clément throughout the Caribbean, Europe, Central and South America, and North America.
Once 1986 rolled around, Rhum Clément was sold to the Hayot family, who remained close to the Clément family in order to keep what was now one of Martinique’s great cultural assets, Habitation Clément, in Martinique hands. The Hayot family continue to this day to maintain the heritage, culture and passion of the Clément family and Rhum Clément.
In 1996, the agricultural rum of Martinique gains the Denomination of Controlled Origin (AOC), alongside the Creole home, the terrace and the dependences all classified as Listed buildings by the Ministry of Culture, a testament of Habitation Clément that had been re-vitalized previously with investment in new cellars for aging rhum, a reception for tourists, art galleries and tasting room for visitors.
So steeped into the Martinique history, but how does it all fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes on my experiences so far –
Rhum Clément Canne Bleue – 50%
The first mono-varietal rum in the world, resulting from the juice of one single variety of sugar cane called ‘canne bleue’.
A sweet grass note on the nose, with soft earth and subtle cane juice coming through. A good hit of the fresh-cut grass on the palate, with the natural sugars imparting nicely and its builds to a fresh, thin yet bold finish.
Rhum Clément Select Barrel – 40%
Crafted with a unique blend of rhums matured in selected oak barrels with a particularly heavy toasting selected by their cellar master.
Subtle dry oak upon the nose, with hints of orange rind and cocoa nip following. A smooth profile on the palate, with a fresher note of the orange and cocoa hitting. Subtle fresh sugar cane creeps in on the lingering finish.
Amazing tots to enjoy on their own, even the 50% stylings of the Canne Bleue is easy to sip. Of course, for a simple mix, the traditional signature serve is always a good shout –
Ti’Punch by Clément
60 ml Rhum Clément Canne Bleue
30 ml Sugar Syrup
1 wedge of Lime
Stir all ingredients over ice, squeezing in the lime wedge. Serve.
A fantastic example of Martinique rhum agricole, one that seems to offer a wide range of versatility, whether enjoyed straight, over ice or within a simple served cocktail, a bottle or two would not look out-of-place within your drinks cabinet.
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