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The Civilized Explorer

The Distilleries of the French West Indies

We explore the distilleries of Guadeloupe and Martinique, with descriptions, telephone numbers, photographs, and links to other Web sites dealing with the production of rum in the Caribbean.

We have visited several distilleries in the French West Indies, and we highly recommend a visit even if you do not drink rum. Many of the distilleries have material on life in the Indies from the 18th Century through today. The story is one of conquest and slavery. Before Europeans reached the Indies, the area was settled by several of the aboriginal peoples from North, Central, and South America. The islands were inhabited by the more nearly peaceful Arawaks, but the fierce Caraïbes were killing the men and taking the women and children. When Europeans arrived with metal and gunpowder, the Caraïbes faced defeat and enslavement. Additional slave labor was brought in from Africa to work the sugar cane plantations. When slavery was ended in the French West Indies, through the efforts of Victor Schoelcher, indentured labor was brought in from India, the namesake of the islands.

Eventually the sugar beet became the more efficient means of producing sugar, and the plantations have had to evolve. Some now produce such tropical fruit as bananas and pineapples, while other plantations stayed with cane and began to make rum instead of sugar. We will list other sites with more information on the topic, but we want to mention that "agricultural" rum (rhum agricole) is of considerably higher quality than rum which is produced in most countries as a by- product of the making of sugar (called "industrial" rum). Agricultural rum is made from the first pressings of the cane and is as fine (in our very humble opinion) as cognac. Agricultural rum is aged in casks and has an alcohol content which varies considerably. It is a liquor best consumed neat, perhaps as a digestif after your dinner.

We have the following pages on our site:

  1. A Tour of the Distillery Rhum Damoiseau
  2. Rum Distilleries on Martinique
  3. Photos of a Tour of the Distillery Rhum Damoiseau
  4. Photos of A Tour of the Distilleries of Martinique
  5. Distillerie Depaz, a 360-degree panorama (about 380K)

Our links to the world of rum offsite include:

Rum Damoiseau
The official home site of the Guadeloupean distillery we like to visit. The Web page gives a brief description of the process from cutting the cane to aging the rum.
The Ministry of Rum
This commercial site promotes the author's book, but it is quite clearly a labor of love.
Peter's Rum Pages
A collector of labels, this author provides not only images of rum labels, but links to the Web sites of the distilleries. The collection includes Guadeloupe and Martinique.

Buy Hunter S. Thompson's Rum Diary from Amazon.

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