The History of Martiniquan Rum

Hélène Zamor


Both cotton and tobacco were cultivated in Martinique before sugar cane was brought to this island around 1650. However, the Dutch of Jewish ancestry who were expelled from the northern-eastern region of Brazil by the Portuguese, came to Martinique.  They shared their knowledge of the making process of the sugar.  By the late seventeenth century, sugar cane “overthrew” the two previous crops: cotton and tobacco.  In 1694, Father Labat, a French Catholic missionary, farmer, writer, and traveler made his way to Martinique where he lived for many years.  He brought with him new techniques of distillation of sugar and founded the Fonds-Saint-Jacques sugar plantation around 1696.

The Martiniquan sugar industry reached its pinnacle during the eighteenth century.  Owing to the great fall of sugar exports and the planters’ incomes, the sugar industry was no longer prosperous as it used to be.  Despite of this decline, distilleries are still producing the “Rhum Industriel” and the “Rhum Agricole”.




sugar, rum, rhum industriel, rhum agricole

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