I have over the years called the rum from Haiti for Agricole.
Then I, some months ago, read the EU definition of rum which says that if a bottle should use the term Agricole on its label it must be produced in the French Overseas Departments or in Madeira and of course follow the the production rules.
Then I checked if it’s followed by some of the sugar cane juice based rum I’m familiar with, and it was.
Rhum Barbancourt, the Clairin’s and River Antoine and some others using sugar cane juice don’t use the term Agricole on their labels.
Today I found an article at liquor.com, an American site, called “Rhum Agricole Is Booming. But Is What You’re Drinking Real”.
That was interesting cause they pointed out that there are lots of quite new distillery’s in the U.S. that’s misleading, mainly Americans, consumers by using the term without being a true Agricole.
They also ask the question why are they using a French word for their products often more like Clairin’s or Cachaca’s.
To be a Agricole is not just about to use sugar cane juice, it’s also about harvest season, fermentation, still requirements, aging, and more. Everything regulated in the AOC or GI’s.
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I mean that rum produced with fresh sugar cane juice call Agricole. Maybe I’m wrong.
For example: The Savanna distillery in La Réunion produces during the sugar cane harvest with fresh juice rhum. They say it's rhum Agricole and named it Savanna Créol. They used no AOC because of the longer fermentation (AOC maximum fermentation for 72 hours). Rest of the year, they produces with molasses (Bois-Rouge sugar factory). Have a look:
Reunion is one of the French Overseas Departments, so it’s correct for them to call their products Agricole.
They have probably some GI’s they follow. The only department that uses AOC as a rule is the producers in Martinique.
Thank you for this interesting and informative topic. Until today I used "agricole" for anything produced from fresh juice. I used to think that this world is complimentary to molasses rum. I just wonder if this misconception appeared because people just were not precise in everyday life or was this term abused by brands on purpose
Agricole is a rhum from agricultural production originally from the French Antilles.
In 2014 AOC finally resulted in the EU-wide system of protected designations of origin.
Agricole indicates a high quality standard and is a pure rhum without any additives and with controlled production methods.
Yes, of course it's a French Oversea Department (I even think the most southern part of Europe, strange, isn’t it?).
Sorry it's my fault, I mix it up with the Rhum Traditionnel (there is not mentioned on the bottle that it is molasses based)
It seems, I'm going slightly mad. :-)
I believe both.
We as consumers are not always distinct when we’re talking.
But when it comes to the American distilleries they uses the term Agricole by purpose, at least according to the article I mentioned in my first post, cause it’s some kind of hype around Agricole and that they therefore can sell more by using this term.
But it’s actually an American problem, they can not export their products to EU without changing the labeling.
I can assure you that a few rhum agricoles from Louisiana follow the strict rules from Martinique. Two companies lead the pack: Three Roll Estate and Wildcat Brothers. The former even imports yeast from Guadeloupe, whereby the GI of Guadeloupe allows for the same yeast as the AOC from Martinique. The master distiller on the latter even made many trips to Martinique to study up on it and get it right. His first attempt was even better than the Clement 6 Year that I had at that time.
So what do Louisiana rhum agricoles have in common with rhum agricoles from the French West Indies? Both know that the most important step is to ferment the sugar cane juice ASAP and not let it sit out in the hot sun to ripen (like what is done with industrial grade cachacas). Louisiana has not lost it's French heritage and actually has better sugar cane growing regions than the volcanic islands of the FWI. October is cane cutting time and I grew up with the smell of molasses every autumn.
And now for some complete foolishness that I absolutely cannot resist!!! I had no idea that the most publicized member of The Squad (AOC) has even influenced rhum agricole productions. The Squad is four very liberal female members of the US Congress, with AOC gathering most of the attention. Her name is too long to print or say, so everyone just calls her AOC. I was briefly on her mailing list until I told her to knock it off. People either love The Squad or hate them. I just ignore them. Ever heard of The Green New Deal? Yup! That came from The Squad.
Well, I’m not saying that the US produced rum they call Agricole is better or worse than the French products, but what I know is that they can’t produce AOC Rhum cause that can only be produced in Martinique according to the AOC.
About the other Agricole produced in the other French Overseas Departments I’m not sure but they probably follow GI’s, which I haven’t read, which makes it impossible for others to follow.
The American guys behind liquor.com wrote that the US product was more alike the Clairin and the Cachaca.
So I’m pretty sure that I would like it cause I really like the River Antoine from Grenada, which is a bit similar, and I have also ordered the four different Clairin’s available in Europe.
So it’s a pity I can’t taste the US products, cause they can’t be exported to the EU.
By the way, I read that US authorities forbid the Cachaca producers to call their product Brazilian Rum if they still wanted to export it to the US.
So it’s all about to protect own markets in the end.
In a few days, I will be driving into New Orleans to get three new clairins and one all time favorite clairin. I have just created a separate classification in my spreadsheet for clairins because they are all so uniquely different. They are nothing like the rhum agricoles from Barbancourt that abides by no rules at all. What makes Guadeloupe rhums different? They allow pot stills among a few other differences..
I did find an excellent article comparing the AOC of Martinique with the GI of Guadeloupe. However, as you well know me, I never include links on this site, which I feel is the ultimate in tackiness.
I googled a little and found some great articles by “Cocktailwonk” handling this topic, maybe the same you read, that’s recommendable for those who want to dig deeper into the topic.
I think they clarify everything around Agricole, the AOC and the GI for Guadeloupe quite well.
Over to the Clairins, which one is your favourite?
I have ordered the non aged Vaval, Casimir and Sajous made from pure sugar cane juice and the La Rocher made from sugar cane syrup.
Then I also ordered a bottle of Providence First Drops which is a blend of 85-90% syrup distillate and 10-15% fresh juice distillate all from cane grown by Sajous. At last I also ordered a bottle of Boukman Botanical Rhum which is after what I’ve heard made from pure sugar cane juice and infused with botanicals and barks.
It will be very interesting to taste them and see how they are compared to my so far highest rated white pot still rum, River Antoine, also made from cane juice.
My all time favorite clairin is Le Rocher. I will pick up another bottle in a few days, along with Sajous, Casimir, and Vaval. Some new clairins have recently began gracing the shelves, and they are made by a descendant of the Barbancourt family. Their San Zanj is not aged, while their Ak Zanj is aged in former cognac casks. This has led me to believe that clairins should not be aged and are better off being unaged. The worst clairin that I have tried came from Saint Benevolence.
And yes, the article from Coctailwonk is the same one that I read.
My only chance of trying herbs that are unique to Haiti was from a bottle of Baron Samedi Spiced Rum. I have been hoping to get my hands on a bottle of Boukman Botanical and will be looking forward to your review.
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