Marie-Galante Rhum Distilleries: Uncommon Attraction
The wide varieties of rums and the historic distilleries where they’ve been produced for centuries provide as good a pair of reasons to visit the Caribbean as any. Devotees of the noble spirit regularly make pilgrimages to The Birthplace of Rum (Barbados). The Rum Capital of the World (Martinique) is another prime destination for rum travel. So too is Puerto Rico, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic. For a uniquely uncommon rum journey, though, the Marie-Galante rhum distilleries must not be missed.
Never heard of of Marie-Galante? No worries. I was born and raised a few islands north and never knew much about it either until recently. Even with the little that I did learn initially, I never would’ve guessed that they produce any rum there much less three different brands.
Before we get into the rum, (actually, it’s rhum in MG), let’s get to know a bit about this off-the-beaten-path paradise…
Marie-Galante is small – just 61 square miles. It’s also ridiculously round and flat. So ridiculously round and flat, in fact, that its nickname is “la grande galette,” or the big pancake.
The island is part of the archipelago that is The Guadeloupe Islands. It’s located just 45 minutes by boat, or 15 minutes by plane from Pointe-à-Pitre. Naturally, all residents here are all French citizens. Only about 12,000 people live in Marie-Galante. The local lifestyle is as close to the Caribbean of 30+ years ago as can be found anywhere.
This would seem a good point to stop and recap the numbers: 61 square miles, 12,000 people, and three separate rum distilleries… It was common back in the day for just about every Caribbean island to boast multiple distilleries. These days, though, most islands count themselves lucky to have just one rum-producer still in business.
Indeed, Marie-Galante is different.
The Marie-Galante Rhum Distilleries Difference
Clearly the folks in Marie-Galante are doing something right when it comes to making fine rhum. Otherwise, how could they continue to operate three full-scale distilleries on such a small island?
But what, you may be wondering, makes their Marie-Galante rhums so special?
For answers, I turned to our old friend Ed Hamilton from the Ministry of Rum. As one of the foremost experts on rhums from the French West Indies, Ed is very familiar with MG rhums.
According to him, the thing that sets the Marie-Galante rhums apart from the rest is that they’re bottled at 59% alcohol by volume. Compared to the 40-50% ABV of most other rhums, these bad boys pack a hefty punch.
If you’ve ever tried these fine rhums, or visited Marie-Galante, leave a comment below and tell us what we can expect if/when we ever get to visit this truly uncommon destination…