The Rum Industry in Guadeloupe
The sugar cane is the main agricultural activity in Guadeloupe and was introduced there in 1638. The sugar and the rum are extracted from this sugar cane. Father Labat considerably enhanced the manufacturing technique in the French West Indies in 1694, which is the starting point of the rum industry growth reaching its best in 1939. At this time there were 55 distilleries within the archipelago. Today, Guadeloupe Archipelago stills boast a major sugar industry and produce both artisanal and industrial rum:
- The industrial rum is made from freshly squeezed sugar cane juice
- The artisanal rum is made from molasses, a byproduct of sugar refining
You can taste them in the archipelago’s 9 distilleries which offer tours and tastings.
The rum production method follows multiple steps: the sugar cane is picking, washing, crushing and filtering. Now that you have the sugar cane juice, there is the fermentation, the distillation and the alcohol content adjustment, the bottling or ageing in oak barrels, which radically alters the character of the rum.
The Rum part of the Cultural Heritage
In Guadeloupe, the rum is the national alcoholic drink and is part of the cultural heritage. Indeed, the rum is omnipresent in Guadeloupeans’ social life. You can buy aged rum, white rum, and boxes rum in any shop or bar. Whether to warm up discussions between friends or to celebrate any kind of celebration, drinking rum is untiringly a national custom. Associated with other plants, the rum can also be used for its medicinal properties. The local aperitif “Ti-punch” (lemon, rum and sugar) is a way of life. The rum is also included with tropical fruits in cocktails, liqueurs or punch.
Guadeloupe archipelago is often listed as one of the best rum destinations, where the rum is appreciated for its flavour. Today, there are 9 distilleries in Guadeloupe territory and centuries-old traditions in distillation are still used to produce multi-awarded labels.
In Basse-Terre Island you will find:
- “Bologne” distillery in Basse-Terre for “Rhum Bologne”
- “Longueteau” distillery in Capesterre Belle Eau for “Rhum Longueteau” and “Rhum Karukera”
- “Carrere” distillery in Petit-Bourg for “Rhum Montebello”
- “Domaine de Severin” distillery in Sainte-Rose for “Rhum Séverin”
- “Reimonenq” distillery (where is located the rum museum) in Sainte-Rose for “Rhum Coeur de Chauffe
In Grande-Terre Island you will find:
- “Damoiseau” distillery in Le Moule for “Rhum Damoiseau”
With 3 distilleries, Marie-Galante Island is the biggest artisanal producer of traditional rum with:
- “Bellevue” distillery in Capesterre for “Rhum Domaine de Bellevue”
- “Bielle” distillery in Grand-Bourg for “Rhum Bielle”
- “Poisson” distillery for “Rhum du Père LaBat”
The distilleries as well as the Rum Museum in Sainte-Rose propose interesting sightseeing tours to discover the different steps of the rum production and tastings.