The history of Depaz rum

Depaz is a distillery in St. Pierre, in the northwest of the country .

The history of Depaz rum

Depaz is a distillery in Saint-Pierre, in the north west of Martinique... Read more

The history of Depaz rum

Depaz is a distillery in Saint-Pierre, in the north west of Martinique. It is established on the site of one of the first plantations on the island, founded in 1639. Then called "Domaine de la montagne", it flourished on the rich soil of the slopes of Mount Pelée. Sugar cane, tobacco and indigo were planted, and two sugar factories were soon erected. After the sugar crisis, a distillery replaced the sugar factory, and the first rums were produced in 1880.

The eruption of the volcano in 1902 completely destroyed the farm, which was then abandoned for several years. In 1917, Victor Depaz was the only survivor of a family established in Martinique since the 18th century. He had gone to Bordeaux to study and had been saved from the disaster but had lost about sixty members of his family. After learning the cane trade in Petit-Bourg (Rivière Salée), he was one of the only ones to restart an activity on the ruins of the cataclysm. He then planted his cane around the recently acquired estate, on a soil increasingly rich in volcanic ash.

In 1920, he built a new house and a distillery. He exploited 134 hectares of sugar cane on the Caribbean side of the mountain. Depaz rums were awarded a medal at the Marseille exhibition in 1922. A rare thing at the time, Victor Depaz already aged a large part of his rum in barrels.

In the 1980s, the farm reached very good yields, while switching to mechanised cutting. The surplus cane, not processed by the distillery, is sold to the neighbour Neisson.

The grouping of distilleries

In 1989, a merger with its main client took place: Bardinet. This was followed by a phase of modernisation that lasted until 1994 and enabled production to be tripled.

In 1998, fate struck the Habitation Depaz with a terrible fire, accidentally ignited by welding in the air impregnated with alcohol vapours from the cellars. 700,000 litres of rum contained in the ageing barrels went up in smoke. This event explains the rarity of the vintages of the years preceding this accident.

A new modernisation took place in 2006, and the production was doubled again. The distillery now also uses other plots of land, on the Atlantic and wetter side of the mountain. The distillery can now count on 250 hectares of sugar cane.

The production of Depaz rum

Over the past 15 years, the Depaz estate has developed a number of actions that have enabled it to achieve a positive energy balance. The principles of sustainable agriculture are in the spotlight: insect trapping, mechanical soil work and very precise plot monitoring make it possible to limit the use of herbicides, pesticides and fertilisers.

From an energy point of view, the distillery is equipped with photovoltaic installations. The bagasse from the cane pressing is used as fuel for the steam engine. The rest is transformed into compost, to be spread on the cane fields as fertiliser.

The vinasse is treated in a special way and is also spread on the fields as a mineral fertiliser.

Depaz on the technical side

Depaz rums have theAOC Martinique label. The cane varieties used are mainly blue cane (60%), cinnamon cane and zikak cane. The vesou is not diluted very much before fermentation, so baker's yeast is used, which is well adapted to the high sugar concentration. This fermentation takes place in thermo-regulated vats and lasts 48 hours. It produces a vesou with an alcohol content of 6%.

The distillation is done on Creole columns, one made of copper and stainless steel and the other entirely of copper. The rum is distilled to an average of 72%.

Since the early 2000s, a Cuban cellar master has been in charge of ageing. Nora Carrion-Martinez brings a wealth of experience to the table, with methods that are unheard of in Martinique, such as not reducing the rum before it is put into casks. Typically, the house blends are composed of 80% of rums aged in ex-first fill bourbon barrels and 20% of rums aged in old cognac barrels. These rums are then reduced with the exceptionally pure water that flows from Montagne Pelée.

The Depaz range of rums

The range of Depaz rums is rather vast, so everyone will be able to find what they want. It starts with great white rums of terroir (50 and 55%), for exceptional ti'punches. The Depaz Blanc Cuvée de la Montagne has been developed to be drunk as a brandy. The golden rum also works wonders in ti'punch, but is also suitable for other cocktails.

Older rums also offer exceptional quality. For example, the Depaz Vieux Plantation is not a simple 3 year old, but has an age count of at least 4 years. Similarly, the VSOP is aged for at least 7 years and the Depaz Grande Réserve XO is a blend of 8 to 10 year old rums.

Special series are of course added to the collection, such as the Cuvée Prestige XO, the Port finish, the single casks, and the brut de fûts which are phenomenally successful. Read less

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