Metropolitan France

The history of rums in mainland France

The beginning of the 19th century saw the lifting of prohibitive customs duties designed to protect metropolitan spirits such as wine .

The history of rums in mainland France

The beginning of the 19th century saw the lifting of prohibitive customs duties designed to protect metropolitan spirits such as wine .

The history of rums in mainland France

The early 19th century saw the lifting of prohibitive customs duties designed to protect metropolitan spirits such as cognac andarmagnac. Rum gained popularity with Napoleonic troops, and then French vineyards were devastated by phylloxera. This was followed by a golden age for merchants who created a number of rum brands from the ports of Bordeaux, Le Havre and Marseille between 1850 and 1950.

No distillation was carried out in metropolitan France at the time, all the rums on the market were blends of rums from Martinique, Guadeloupe, Réunion and sometimes Jamaica. The white rums were transported by boat in French wine casks that had been emptied in the colonies. When they arrived in France, the rums were diluted, coloured and flavoured, sometimes very strongly (caramel, leather, and even meat...). The blends were made up of grand aroma rum, agricultural rum or molasses rum.

Among these brands, we can mention Saint James, which was created in Marseille by a certain Mr Lambert (who later owned the distillery of the same name in Martinique), but also Negrita (Bardinet) or Charleston (Marie Brizard).


Rums in mainland France today

Some of the heirs of the golden age of négociants are still present and hold a very important place in the market. The new generation born of the new rum boom of the 2010s is also enjoying some success, sometimes even surpassing its elders in international recognition.

We can mention La Compagnie des Indes, based in the Jura region, which produces very well-crafted blends such as the West Indies or the Caraïbes. It reworks its rums in France, refining them in various casks, as in the Boulets de Canon series, which explores smoky aromas and is finished in whisky casks.

Plantation does a similar job by re-pouring rums from around the world into Cognac Ferrand barrels, its parent company, and adding a house 'sauce' made from aged cane sugar syrup. Various blends and finishes are also carried out, such as the OFTD overproof or this rum from Belize matured in Port casks.

Another house in the Cognac region, Les Bienheureux. This former Havana Club executive and his associate create blends of South American and Caribbean rums for the mixology world, which they know well. This is how the Embargo range was born, and this is also how the Pasador de Oro range was created, rums from Guatemala reworked in Cognac casks.

As for Guillaume Ferroni, he is fully in line with the Marseilles tradition. He reworks his white rums in Dame Jeanne, uses double maturation with French Rye barrels(Cuba 2011) and blends several origins(Rosé rhum blend, Tasty Overproof), sometimes with original flavours(Rhum miel et safran).

He is also behind the revival of trading brands from the past, with Manikou and Old Manada. He even pushes the envelope further by distilling or redistilling rums at his home in Aubagne, resulting in genuine rums from mainland France. This is the case with Guildive 1800 or Ciseaux, for example.

In the tradition of the great transatlantic voyages, Transat rums take Martinique rums on a boat trip, to give them the benefit of a second maturation in Côte de Beaune (Burgundy) barrels .

Other rum and spirits enthusiasts, the Julhès brothers, who run the grocery shop of the same name, have set up the first distillery in Paris since the last one closed 100 years ago. Since 2015, they have been producing a wide range of spirits and eaux-de-vie, including genuine French rums made from molasses or Galabé de la Réunion.

The boom in micro-breweries, which later became micro-distilleries, has also brought its share of new rums from mainland France. This is the case of O'Baptiste in Valence, Bows in Montauban, or Muse de France in Vichy, which all make rums from organic molasses imported from Thailand.

There is another category of rums produced in mainland France, and not the least because it is undoubtedly the most represented and the most active today: the arranged and spiced rums.

The pioneer of arranged rum, or at least the most successful one, is in the Nantes region. It is Cédric Brément and his Ti arrangés de Ced. The Victoria pineapple arranged rum has become a classic, and the dozens of other macerations that have followed have all been successful. Let's mention our favourites: the vanilla macadamia, the berligou cacao or the famous Point G matured in the salt marshes.

The very old house of Bigallet, producer of syrups and liqueurs since 1872 in Lyon, also offers a wide range of arranged rums based on AOC agricultural rum from Martinique.

Finally, there is a very successful spiced rum. Spytail is a ginger-based rum made in Cognac according to a 19th century recipe. Read less

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