Rum Journal: In Martinique, A New Rum Is Born

By: Caribbean Journal Staff - January 13, 2017

“I always dreamed of making rums,” Yves Assier de Pompignan tells me, walking through the waving stalks of a sugarcane field.

But in Martinique, an island where there are more rum distilleries in one place than anywhere else on earth, creating one is a tall order, especially when most brands have centuries of heritage.

The Habitation du Simon in Martinique.

That’s what makes the product of these dreams so rare: Assier de Pompignan has done the remarkable — here, on a small, centuries-old sugar estate, the onetime home of the former governor of Martinique, he has created a new rum.

It’s called A1710, and it is serious.

Indeed, Assier de Pompignan has taken a small property in southeastern Martinique and created the island’s newest working rum distillery.

Yves Assier de Pompignan

It took three years of jumping through hurdles and planning and plotting, but a life-long dream for Assier de Pompignan has become a reality.

Now, the challenge for any new rum brand, particularly in a place like Martinique, is the aged variety. A white rum can be produced in months — but an aged variety of quality needs years.

So Yves has done something clever.

A1710 (named for the year his family first came to Martinique) has initially released three labels, special blends of rums from both Martinique and Guadeloupe — using significantly aged rums (some as old as 17 years) to create what is a truly French Caribbean rum.

“The more DNA you put into the thing, the better chance you have for more taste,” he says.

And the result is splendid, with rich, complex flavors with all of the texture you expect from a great French rum.

But the white rum is the heart of this story, produced beginning last July right on the Habitation, and soon to hit the shelves in Martinique.

The cane is grown and crushed on the estate.

This rum, produced right on this estate in the southeast of the island, is made using a rebuilt former Cognac “Charentais” still, converted into a hybrid column-pot still that produces the only pot-still white rum in all of Martinique.

I was lucky enough to taste it, and it’s a superstar white rum: bold, sweet, vegetal with a wonderfully earthy taste; while Yves is humble, it’s clear he knows how good it already is.

Soon, some of the white rum, about a third, will be hidden away, sent to bourbon barrels for long-term aging.

Because dreams like this take time. But they are always worth the wait.

— Alexander Britell

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