|Yves Assier de Pompignan|
“I always dreamed of making rums,” Yves Assier de Pompignan tells me, walking through the waving stalks of a sugarcane field.
Martinique is an island where there are more rum distilleries than anywhere else on earth, creating a new one is a tall order, especially when most brands have centuries of heritage. That’s what makes the product of these dreams so rare, Assier de Pompignan has accomplished the remarkable here in Martinique on a small, centuries-old sugar estate that was the home of the former governor of Martinique and the rum is called A1710.
Assier de Pompignan has taken a small property in southeastern Martinique and created the island’s newest working rum distillery. It took three years of jumping through hoops, planning and plotting, but a life-long dream has become a reality.
The challenge for any new rum brand, particularly in a place like Martinique, is the aged variety. White rum can be produced in a few months, but an aged variety of quality needs years. A1710, named for the year his family first came to Martinique, has initially released three expressions that are special blends of rums from both Martinique and Guadeloupe, using significantly aged rums, some as old as 17 years, to create what is a truly French Caribbean rum. The result is splendid, with rich, complex flavors with all of the texture you expect from a great French rum.
The white rum is the heart of this story, produced beginning last July right on the Habitation, and soon to hit the shelves in Martinique. This rum, produced using a rebuilt former Cognac “Charentais” still, converted into a hybrid column-pot still that produces the only pot-still white rum in all of Martinique.
The White Rum is a bold, sweet, vegetal with a wonderfully earthy taste; while Yves is humble, it’s clear he knows how good it already is. Some of the white rum, about a third, will be hidden away in bourbon barrels for long-term aging. It will be a few years before the aged expressions will come from the new distillery, but I’m sure that they will be wonderful.