Bahama Bob's Rumstyles

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Agricole Method: Homere Clement's Creation

Homere Clement is credited with the creation of the Rhum Agricole method, a method he developed in the latter part of the 19th century.   Clement was a native of Martinique that received a scholarship from the French government to attend the University of Paris.   In 1878, Clement returned to Martinique bringing with him a passion for the Grand Cru Wines and Armagnac (a brandy produced in the Armagnac region of Southwest France).  in 1887 Clement had established Rhum Clement as the leading producer of A.O.C. (Appellation d' Origine Controlee or "controlled destination of origin") Martinique Rhum Agricole.

     What makes A.O.C. Rhum Agricole different?    To start with it is made from a selection of the top A.O.C. certified sugarcane, chopped as close to the ground as possible to obtain the highest content of the glucose.   It must then be pressed in the same method as the grapes are to get the natural "free run" juices.     The cane is cut, cleaned, and crushed within an hour, this keeps the sugar cane juice as fresh as possible  when the house organic strain of fermentation yeasts are added, starting the fermentation process.   Fermentation lasts between 48 and 72 hours yielding the " sugar wine" which develops all of the full bodied flavors and aromas of the rhum.

     The distillation process is carried out in an Armagnac style Creole single column copper still.   This still was chosen by Homere Clement to get the flavors and viscosity he was looking for.  Even today the sugar wine is distilled in this style of still.   It is designed to produce a heavier and lower strength spirit.

     The rhum is then placed is stainless steel vats that bubble a filtered steam through the rhum and with slow agitation, remove any unwanted esters that can ruin the taste of the rhum.   This process takes about 9 months, then it is ready for bottling or aging.

     The rhum is aged in a combination or Limousin and American Oak barrels.    The aging process is monitored by the cellar master in order to attain the specific character of the rhum.  The rhum at least in some cases is stored in a solera system for aging.  The two different woods each infusing the rhum with their own intense flavor and aroma creating a very complex characteristics.   The barrels are topped of regularly during the aging process to counter act the evaporation from the barrels ( the angel's share") with rhum from the same batch to maintain a rhum that is 100% of the same vintage.

     This strict control of the origin of the sugar cane and the methods of the production is what gives an A.O.C Martinique Agricole it's unique flavor and aroma, far different from it's counterparts made from molasses.    This is a style of rhum that is different and unique from the molasses based rums, but is worth exploring the unique flavors of the pure agricoles of Martinique.  ;o)