Clément

Located in the Le Francois on the French Caribbean Island of Martinique. Habitation Clément is considered to be the birthplace of Rhum Agricole. Habitation Clément sits on a 43-hectare plantation and consists of 7 sugar cane fields.

As the distillery was founded by Homère Clément in 1887, he has since become known as the ‘Godfather’ of Rhum Agricole.     

Clement distillery with its name and logo attached on the large tank in the front surrounded by nature on a blue sky background
Clément distillery

style

Clément is steeped in history and French Caribbean culture. This rhum is a perfect reflection of that.

Rhum Clément has a flavour profile of notes of pepper, peat and grassiness followed by some spices and dried fruits. It finishes with a dry, smoky aftertaste, with a lingering flavour of sherry.     

Peat briquettes
A piece of lawn
A pile of dates, raisins and dried apricots
A few spoons loaded with different spices

production

Clément rum is produced from the juice of sugar cane harvested from the vast land occupied by Habitation Clement. Once harvested, the sugar cane stalks are cut and the fibres are taken out before being crushed to release the juice. The juice is then poured into large tanks to ferment. The spirits afterwards will pass through a Creole column still.

The distillate will leave the still at approximately 75% alc./vol. The strength is then reduced in stages of around 5% alc./vol. each time. This happens over a two-to-three-month period. This is claimed to result in a more balanced rum.

Clément is home to two ranges. White Rhums are aged in stainless steel tanks for around 6 months, coming with sweet, vegetal notes and palate. Notable releases are Clement Blanc and Canne Bleue. Aged Rhums such as VSOP, XO and Vieux releases are matured predominantly in ex bourbon casks (American White Oak) from the American whiskey industry. However, due to the French heritage, Clement VSOP also makes use of French Oak Casks. This develops notes of spices, dried fruits, smoky charred wood and sherry.      


history

Clément was founded by Homère Clément, the Doctor and Mayor of Le Francois. Homère is believed to be the first Black person to receive a doctorate in medicine in France. Having achieved this, he returned to Martinique to practice medicine and politics.     

Habitation Clement mansion with brown red walls and open windows surrounded by green nature
Habitation Clement mansion

Homère Clément purchased the vast 43-hectare sugar plantation of the Domaine de L’ Acajou in 1887. It was where he began to produce rhum agricole directly from sugar cane juice on the plantation.

In 1902, Homère Clément was named Mayor Deputy of Martinique following the eruption of Mt. Pelee which killed near 30,000 people. Homère managed to save the economy of Martinique, which was struggling since the collapse of the sugar commerce. He promoted the production of Rhum Agricole from sugar cane rather than molasses. The sugar production process was cut out and the resources flourished on the island. Henceforth, he was known as the ‘Godfather’ of Rhum Agricole.

In 1917, Homère Clément then erected a fully operational distillery called Habitation Clement to meet the demand for alcohol during the First World War. It pulled Martinique out of its depression.

After the death of Homère Clément in 1923, his son Charles took over. Charles paid attention to the detail in production, perfecting this and began to export Clément abroad for the first time.

In 1989, Clément was close to bankruptcy. But it was saved by the purchase from Bernard Hayot. The distillery was then moved to the Simon Distillery a short distance away, along with the Creole still. Production at the Simon Distillery was overseen by Bernard’s brother Yves Hayot. Yves chose to continue the methods and tradition of Clément Rhum Agricole. They have been followed until even today.

The year 1996 saw the AOC (appellation d’origine Controllee) for Rhum Agricole established. It puts limitations to ensure that Rhum is produced in a manner which is true to its origins.