For those unfamiliar with this fantastic and often underrated style of rum we spoke to agricole devotees Chris and Rebecca Mathurin from rumming.co.uk, to find out what makes it so special.
What is your background in rum?
We are two rum enthusiasts, who thought that having a site related to rum, and our other adventures would be cool! We got our appetite for rum the first time we visited RumFest UK in 2012. Since then we have grown our collection, planned our holidays around distillery visits and sampled lots more on our journey of rum understanding and appreciation! We're big fans of agricole rhums and rums from Chris' home country, Mauritius.
What do you love about agricole rhum?
We like the diversity and expression of terroir that comes though in agricole rums - you can literally taste the influence of the weather on the sugar cane's sweetness, the location of the cane and contrast the difference in the varieties of cane.
Can you offer any insights into the distilleries producing agricole rhum and the process involved?
Most of what's distilled in the French overseas departments and territories is agricole, a production method that uses freshly-pressed sugar cane juice as the raw material for fermentation. Rhum agricole/cane juice rum is traditionally produced using copper column stills, but more recently new distilleries have begun to use copper pot stills and even a combination of both. Distilleries like A1710 from Martinique, O Reizinho from Madeira, Chamarel & St Aubin from Mauritius, Nine Leaves from Japan and Bielle from Marie-Galante (where the still was introduced by Luca Gargano) are returning to the old methods of pot stills and we are looking forward to see what's new in the category.
Visiting an agricole distillery is always interesting, particularly the small producers on the island of Guadeloupe, with open fermentation tanks and their open fires fuelling the stills and the smell of fresh sugarcane in the air.
What would you say to those looking to explore agricole rhum?
There are lots of producers still producing across Martinique, Guadeloupe, Reunion so lots to discover, plus agricoles and agricole-style rums from Mauritius, Madeira, Haiti, Polynesia, Brazil, Japan and South Africa. There's a clear route in for whisky drinkers through younger aged agricoles, particularly those aged in ex-bourbon casks. The smell of a white agricole is so fresh with sugar cane and gets you accustomed to higher abv rum. The ageing process brings a lot of development, moving through woodiness and vanilla, to a sweeter more dried fruit quality above four years old.
A big thank you to Chris and Rebecca, be sure to check out their website Rumming and remember to check back frequently for our live auctions to browse the fantastic range of Rhum Agricole on offer!