Above: the Dillon distillery in Martinique (CJ Photo)
Dillon is a storied name on the island of Martinique, a landmark French appellation in the heart of the French Caribbean.
But upon deeper examination, it is not quite what it appears. This French name, this French rum, has a bit of a different story.
That’s because behind one of Martinique’s eminent rhum brands is, in fact, an Englishman.
An Englishman, who, no less, fought in the American War of Independence, a man who, while stationed in Martinique, eventually fell in love and married a local girl from a family of planters. He later served as Governor of Tobago, among other notable posts.
Dillon had a remarkable life, eventually becoming a Deputy in the French government until, charged with conspiracy (a fate all too frequent in the years after the French Revolution) he met his untimely end.
Today, this centuries-old rum brand still honours General Dillon, in more ways than one.
We recently obtained a bottle of one of the marque’s top-level rums: Dillon XO Hors d’age.
It has a pale orange-amber colour, with a very smooth, sweet aroma of dried apricot and orange zest.
Then it gets interesting: the flavour profile is dominated by apricot, mixed in with a little pepper and orange zest; it’s even creamy, something exceedingly rare for a rhum agricole from Martinique.
It’s something different for this island; the finish is smooth, yes, but with the slightest whisper of white wine — giving the illusion of a rum finished in Sauternes barrels, or the like.
Because this rhum, though held to the same rigorous methodological requirements of the world’s only AOC designation for rum, is not quite like others we’ve tasted from the island.
It’s creamy, sweet, even flowery. And if creamy gives the impression of milk, it shouldn’t; it simply has a velvety, oh-so-luxurious texture.
Like its famous name, this rum isn’t quite what one expects. And that’s precisely what makes it so wonderful.