Rum Journal: A Martinique Rhum from the Base of a Volcano

Martinique has 12 rum distilleries, with the Depaz rum distillery in the town of St. Pierre one of the most popular.

To find this rum, you must journey to the base of a volcano.

Here at the foot of Mont Pelee, that fearsome summit in the north of Martinique, is the home of Rhum Depaz.

And this beautiful plantation makes some of the Caribbean’s greatest rum, though even in Martinique it’s generally makes it only as far as the municipal limits of the town of Saint Pierre. (Indeed, it’s one of the most consistent winners in our annual Rum Awards).

Depaz’s greatest asset is its location on the remarkably rich soils of Pelee, the same volcano that destroyed the town of Saint Pierre in 1902 (and its 30,000 inhabitants). But the Depaz family eventually rebuilt the plantation in 1917.

You see, because this is a rhum agricole from Martinique, it has a terroir — because where it’s made, where the sugarcane is grown and what the soil is like actually matters, unlike far too many Caribbean molasses-based rums that simply import their molasses from other countries.

The Depaz family estate on the plantation.

So when you drink Depaz you are tasting Saint Pierre, you are tasting the history, you are tasting that imposing volcano.

And it adds up to some sensational expressions, like the most recent Depaz we tried, the 2002 vintage.

The 2002 vintage is the result of 11 years of aging in oak casks.

Its aroma includes notes of dried apricot, anise, orange peel and black cherry.

Its delicate but complex flavor profile is marked by notes of candied fruit, black pepper, white wine, oak and a whisper of anise.

The finish is smooth and elegant, reminding you of the grand tradition of this exceptional rum.

It is a rum that is a must for any collection and a must-try for any rum lover.

But like all of the best rums of this island, the best way to get it is to come directly to the source.

Even if it means heading to the base of a volcano.

— CJ

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