Rum, rhum, or ron it is all over the Caribbean. And I crown Martinique as the capitol of rum distillation. While driving around the island, I think we saw at least 6 rum distilleries. No, we didn’t stop at them all — nor did we stop at the Rum Museum. If you’ve seen one rum distillery, you’ve seen them all, right? Wrong! Habitation Clement definitely stands out from the others. I thought we were done taking rum tours, but I am glad we made an exception for this one.
From Dominica we sailed to Fort de France where we dropped anchor for a night. It seemed like a nice anchorage, but Fort de France is the largest city in the SE Caribbean and we wanted somewhere quieter. So the next day we continued on to Sainte Anne, a “not to be missed” destination according to all our cruising friends. Ste Anne is small and quaint and much more our speed than Fort de France. With its waterfront bakery, we were back in baguette country. Woohoo! After spending a day walking around Ste Anne, we rented a car to explore the rest of the island and do some shopping. There is good shopping in Fort de France, especially for sporting goods for some reason.
I picked out a few destinations to visit and we started with Habitation Clement. It got really good reviews and appeared to be more than just a distillery. The entrance was interesting with a rock structure attached or next to a steel one.
The tour started with a stroll around the grounds, which are beautifully manicured.
Just because I am always watching out for wildlife… This looks like a coot, maybe, and I loved the bamboo hanging over the water.
Clement features a sculpture garden with interesting pieces scattered around the grounds.
I took pictures of a few that I found interesting, but forgot to take pictures of the plaques. So you will have to go see them for yourself to find out what they are.
This was a Christian something and it is made from charred wood. Huh.
I thought these were cool. I quickly made friends with them and found them to be really good listeners.
I loved everything about this place and thought it all beautiful, even humungous half buried gears.
The old way for a place inland, before steam power, was animal power. A mule would walk circles around this structure to crank the grinder.
Dave listened to the electronic guide that explained that these were boiling pots for the juice squeezed out of the sugar cane.
Speaking of sugar cane, there was still a good sized field of it. It looks kind of like tall grass.
But as you can see, it would be very tall grass and thick.
The distillery is surrounded by banana plantations, a huge export for Martinique.
As I said, everything about this place is beautiful. Look where the horses lived!
The ‘tour guide’ told Dave that the stables were located on the hillside downwind from the main buildings, so that the smell would blow away.
There was no missing this place. As soon as we got near we smelled the distinct rum in progress smell, kind of a sickly sweet gone sour smell. The alcohol is evaporating out of the barrels as it ages and takes on flavor from the barrels (many of which are used bourbon barrels from the U.S.).
The original distillery burned down and this was placed as a museum. Much, if not all, of the steam-powered machinery was there but not functioning. Some gears were turning with electricity as a demonstration.
Somehow they even made the machinery look artistic.
These fermentation vats are no longer used, otherwise there would have been a very strong smell.
I don’t recall what this part was, but maybe it was for evaporation to purify the rum. You know, so it doesn’t make you go blind when you drink it. Next was the tasting room, which I forgot to photograph. The rum was good and Dave bought two bottles of golden rum and I bought one bottle of coconut liqueur rum.
If you ever see this bottle in a store, do yourself a favor and buy it! Grab a small glass, place an ice cube in it, and pour in a shot of Clement Mahina Coco. You can thank me later.