Martinique rum is the only rum to have its own designated AOC (appellation d’origine contrôlée). Almost all rum is made by fermenting and distilling molasses. In Martinique and some surrounding islands they use the juice from fresh cut sugarcane which is immediately brought to the distillery to prevent spoilage.
Rum made from this process is rhum agricole, or agricultural rum, as opposed to rhum industriel which uses molasses rather than sugarcane juice. This allows the rum to have a direct expression of flavors and aromas from where the sugarcane was grown and the young rums made in this style tend to be bright and grassy tasting.
When the sugar cane harvest starts, a machine cuts and crushes the plant and extracts the juice. The fresh sugarcane juice, smelling of grass and tropical fruit, is then put into tanks to ferment from anywhere to 24 hours to 72 hours, which creates a lightly alcoholic sugarcane wine. It is then distilled “creole style” which is 70% – 75% alcohol. This is a lower alcohol content than most rums that are made from molasses and with less alcohol there are more flavor compounds in the finished rum.
This makes rum from Martinique definitely worth looking for. Here are a few brands that are sold in the United States – Rhum Clément and Saint James. Give them a try and see what you think. You will taste the difference!