French Agricultural Rum

Agricultural rum is produced from the fermentation and then the distillation of sugar cane juice. It is mainly found in the French Antilles (Martinique, Guadeloup), but it is also produced in Latin America, Reunion Island, Mauritius and Southeast Asia. The harvest is now mechanized, but it still remains a traditional method in some places.
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What is a French agricultural rum?

The so-called "French agricultural" or "French" rums are made from cane juice or sometimes from molasses juice. They are colourless when they leave the still and acquire a golden colour, amber to more or less dark brown, depending on the time of ageing in barrels.

Traditional French rums are mainly produced in the French overseas departments: Guadeloupe, Martinique, Réunion, some even in Haiti.

Agricultural rums can be white, amber or old. Each distillery having its secrets of distillation, the rums differ according to the number of distillations, the type of ageing and the degree of alcohol. Agricultural rums are most often used in the creation of cocktails.

There are two other types of rums:
- The so-called "Spanish" or "Spanish tradition rums": made from molasses, which are light and slightly coloured. They are mainly produced in Guatemala, Panama, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, Colombia, Venezuela, and Cuba. It should also be noted that Mexico produces an eau-de-vie mixing rum and mezcal (alcohol from agave) and Colombia for its part produces a rather anise-flavoured eau-de-vie.
- "English" or "English tradition rums": made from molasses, they are very colourful and often light, used in particular for cocktails. They are mainly produced in Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Saint Kitts, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica and Guyana.

A protected and controlled rum

To benefit from the "Martinique agricultural rum" designation of origin (AOC), rum must meet specifications aimed at maintaining the quality of the product. This concerns the terroir, the cultivation of sugar cane, the ageing, the manufacturing, the labelling and volatile elements (non-alcohol).

In order to guarantee the qualities of ageing and the labelling, the AOC Martinique distinguishes several categories:
- The VO (Very Old) label for agricultural rums aged at least 3 years,
- The VSOP, Réserve Spéciale, Cuvée Spéciale and Très Vieux terms for agricultural rums aged at least 4 years,
- The terms Extra Vieux, Grande Reserve, Hors d'Âge, XO (Extra Old), for agricultural rums aged at least 6 years.

These same age categories are also found for cognacs.

Rums from other French overseas departments benefit from the IG (Geographical Indication) label, which is less restrictive than the AOC.

At European level, these standards respectively take the names of PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) and IGP (Protected Geographical Indication).

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