As part of Operation Rum Babelfish (also: INRA papers, Circular 106, etc) I’m putting together a slowly emerging translation of Kervegant’s 500 page French language text on rhum. This will be completed (and fine tuned) by the many friends of rum. To make it work, I’ll slowly upload 10 page PDF segments of the text and anyone can download one, perform OCR then refine and render a readable English translation. For free OCR, simply copy the PDF into google then right click and open the PDF as a google doc. Paragraph by paragraph, I then use google translate (and old fashioned sleuthing) to render readable work. For the photos, I simply screen capture them and crop them on my phone. Once they are emailed to me, I’ll re-work it all into word press. Each PDF segment will be at the beginning of the pages it relates to.
The text, at 500 pages, is really massive so it may not be possible to read multiple times looking for typos and translation errors. If there are unresolvable translation issues I’m going to flag them with an “SOS”. That way a native French speaker can quickly ctrl-f for SOS then quickly help resolve the tricky issues.
Eaux-de-Vie de canne
Ingénieur principal de l’Agriculture des Colonies Chef du Service de l’Agriculture à la Martinique
M. C. MARILLER
Professeur de Distillerie « l’Ecole Nationale des Industries Agricoles
President de l’Association des Chimistes ar Ingénieurs de Sucrerie, de Distillerie et des Industries Agricoles
Président d’Honneur de l’Association des Ingénieurs des Industries Agricoles
VANNES LES EDITIONS DU GOLFE Rue Porte-Poterne
1946 Tous droits réservés
Dipot igal te trimestre 1947 N• 8
Although many books have been devoted to rum, none has treated the subject in such a comprehensive manner, examining not only the questions relating to the technique of manufacture, but also all those likely to be of interest to both men and women. producer, the trader, the consumer and even the hygienist.
Since the history to the sale of the product, nothing is missing in this masterful study and attention is retained from the first to the last line. The most scholarly reader finding at any moment unpublished information and documentation without gaps.
I thank Mr. Kervégant for asking me to write this Preface. The reading of his manuscript was for me a joy and a revelation, and I do not hesitate to declare that it is a masterpiece, which constitutes a real Distillery Treaty.
We must congratulate the author for having given to our technical literature of agricultural industries, currently impoverished by the years of occupation, our industrialists, our technicians, who search in vain for the pre-war works, remains exhausted and obsolete, indicating to me nothing of the considerable progress accomplished during the last ten years, a perfect improvement of the various sides of the distillery.
With admirable patience, M. Kervégant has collected books and journals from all over the world, in all languages, all that has been published on the chemistry of musts and wines, fermentations, distillation, methods of manufacture, aging, trade issues, production statistics, and rum markets.
This volume, which is essential for all cruxes interested in Rum and Cane brandies, will also be sought, as a result of its general documentation, by all the distillers and technicians of the distillery, in all the French language countries. Everyone will find in his reading, extreme pleasure and interest.
If rum is produced by many countries (the author examines the particularities of its manufacture in each of them), the French Empire occupies a place of choice, and our rum is worthily alongside the cognacs, armagnacs, wine brandy, calvados, fruit spirits of the metropolis whose reputation is well known. For the maintenance and extension of our privileged situation in the world, it is necessary by an incessant action, to assure the perfection, the quality, which made our reputation.
At a time when our country has so much need of foreign exchange, where the increase of our exports is indispensable, spirits and liqueurs have more than ever a privileged role to assure, the articles to be exported being unfortunately few in France.
Regulations have, fortunately, stopped attempts to manufacture by new techniques, which, in favor of performance could compromise the quality of our metropolitan products. Before the war, it was the same for rum.
All efforts must focus on improving quality. Mr. Kervégant deals at length with this question, and gives a good deal of information on this subject, as on the others. Whether it is the composition of the rum, the aroma factors, the smelly products whose formation must be prevented, the tasting, the chemical analysis, the reader will find all the information that is desirable.
In congratulating the writer on the excellent production of our Agricultural Industries, I can assure him that the rapid spread of his work will bring him the reward he deserves.
Professeur de Distillerie à l’Ecole Nationale des Industries Agricoles. Président de l’Association des Chimistes et Ingénieurs de Sucrerie,
de Distillerie et des Industries Agricoles, Président d’honneur de l’Association des Ingénieurs
des Industries Agricoles.
RHUMS ET EAUX-DE-VIE DE CANNE
GENERALITIES AND HISTORY
Definition du rhum
Rum is generally defined as a spirit derived from alcoholic fermentation and distillation of sugar cane juice, molasses and by-products of cane sugar manufacture.
In some countries legal definition is more restrictive. So, in France
the decree of August 19, 1921 establishes that “the denomination of rum or tafia is reserved for brandy coming exclusively from the alcoholic fermentation and the distillation of sugar cane juice, not deprived by the defecation of the principles aromas to which rums and tafias owe their specific characteristics “. The legislator’s concern to exclude products with a low non-alcohol coefficient was also reflected in the Decree of 20 May 1923, which obliges rums of French colonies imported into France duty-free not to be distilled at more than 65 ° GL.
In the United States, the regulations of the Federal Alcohol Administration specify that rum comes from the fermentation of the cane or its by-products, to be distilled at an alcoholic strength below 95°G.L. and possess the taste, aroma and characteristics generally attributed to this spirit. The “New England Rum” must be distilled at less than 80°.
In England, rum is legally a spirit resulting from the fermentation and distillation of sugar cane products in a country where cane is grown. Great Britain has always imported large quantities of cane molasses for the manufacture of alcohol. Since the spirit obtained is generally of inferior quality, and in any case possesses a very different bouquet from that of the rums of colonial origin, it is understood that it was intended to make a clear distinction between the two products (1). This, however, has the disadvantage of not having the spirits manufactured in certain parts of the United States (New England) admitted as real rums, or from the beginning of colonization the distillation of cane molasses imported and or the product of this distillation has been traditionally designated and sold under the name of rum.
Most countries, however, tolerate the sale, under the name of fantasy rum or imitation rum, of mixtures of natural rum with neutral alcohols, and even that of imitations of rum obtained by simply adding dyes and aromatic “enhancers”. Quite often, the qualifier “fantasy” or “imitation” is omitted, or replaced by another word that can be confusing. In Germany and Austria, for example, the Kubarum and Inlander-rum denominations were used to designate artificial rums some years ago, and the Deutcher rum denomination a distillate made from beet molasses by a special process and with a certain resemblance to rum.
(1) In various European countries, attempts have been made to produce rum with cane molasses, but it has never been possible to obtain a product having the organoleptic characteristics of rums from hot countries (Gaber).
“It is not only in the islands that molasses brandy is made,” wrote Le Normand in 1817. “In sugar refineries, where molasses are obtained, they are applied to manufacturing distillates. We can not pronounce on the causes that prevent the eau-de-vie of molasses manufactured in France to acquire this perfection, this perfume that we recognize with pleasure in the rum of the islands and particularly in that of Jamaica “.
In England, the name imitation rum refers to all the spirits with the characteristics of rum and come from countries where sugar cane is not cultivated. In the United States, the federal alcohol administration applies the term to rum containing neutral alcohol, a spirit other than rum or any rum flavor product.
In France, the legislation is more restrictive. The law of December 31st, 1922, prohibits the designation of rum or tafia, with or without any qualifier, any alcohol not coming exclusively from the distillation of juice, molasses or cane syrup, while that of August 16th, 1930 formally prohibits all mixtures of rum and alcohol, apart from a few special cases (preparation of therapeutic compositions and liqueurs). Only the rums of origin, reduced or not, may be sold under the name “rum” without the addition of any other spirits.
The meaning of the terms “rum” and “tafia” has changed somewhat since the beginning. In the early days of colonization, the cane brandy was called in the French islands guildive or tafia. The name “rum”, which the ancient authors write rome or rum, was reserved for the product coming from the English colonies and which proved to be much superior to the tafia. When, in the first half of the nineteenth century, English methods were introduced in the French West Indies, the term was used to designate the finest eau-de-vie obtained by replacing the froths with vesou well clarified in the composition of musts; then the molasses eau-de-vie made with care.
“The real rum of Jamaica,” wrote Lanessan (1) in 1886, was formerly made directly with the vesou itself of the violet cane and possessed a particular aroma. The tafia was the product of the distillation of molasses. Today rum and tafia come only from melasses, and under the first name we designate the eau-de-vie of melasse manufactured with care, and we sell tafia-like alcohol whose quality and perfume are inferior”.
Rocques (2), however, still gives the following definitions in 1913: “The name of rum is more particularly reserved for the product of the fermentation and distillation of sugar cane juice, and the name of tafia for spirits originating in wine of sugar cane molasses.”
Currently, the distinction between rum and tafla is no longer made in France, at least in the retail trade. However, it remains in the French West Indies, where the first term always refers to a product of superior quality, but obtained by aging the newly distilled eau-de-vie in charred oak barrels. The name are reserved for molasses (industrial tafia) or juice of cane (tafia habitant or grappe blanche).
The same distinction is made to Haiti between the clairin, which is the green product freshly distilled, and the rhum brandy rectified and aged in cask. In Venezuela the term ron also refers to a cane brandy (aguardiente de cana) aged by natural processes.
The guildive designation, originally applied to the brandy of molasses or cane juice, was later reserved for the former. Charpentier de Cossigny (3) wrote about eaux-de-vies of sugar:
“It is made in colonies of several species, which have different names. One is called guildive it is the one that is removed by the distillation of sugar expressed from sugarcane, after letting it ferment: The other is called taffia: it is made with molasses, or gros sirops, and sugar skins, which are deluged in water, fermented and distilled; it is preferred to the guildive, but it is inferior to the name, which is nothing but the tafla rectified.” [SOS I suspect I”m making some translation errors here].
(1) Les plantes utiles des colonies francaises. p. 244, Paris, 1866
(2) Eaux-de-vie naturelles et industrielles. Paris, 1913.
(3) See Bibliography. In principle, we give at the bottom of the pages only the references to the publications not nested in the Bibliography.
Finally, it should be noted that for a long time the term arak has been used to describe rum in Mauritius and Comores. The real arak of Batavia is obtained in Java, by forming in a fermentation of cane with a special yeast prepared from rice.
Etymology of the terms alcohol, rum, tafia, etc …
The liquid from the distillation of the wine was first called by the alchemists of the Middle Ages, aqua ardens, ardent water, denomination that has been preserved in the Spanish-speaking countries in the form aguardiente (1): or aqua vitae (2). eau-de-vie, because of the property attributed to it to maintain youthfulness and prolong life. The word whiskey would also be a corruption of the Celtic expression Wisge beatha (eau-de-vie), which one first made usquebaugh, long used in Ireland, and finally whisky.
(1) This term, used to describe spirits in general, is applied more particularly in certain countries of Central America (El Salvador, etc.) to cane brandy.
(2) In Norway, aquavit is still used to refer to potato alcohol flavored with certain herbs (caraway, etc.) and can be considered as the national liquor of the country.
It is probable that the term alcohol is of Arab origin (al, article: le, la — and cohol, kool, which comes from qochl: subtle thing, very fine powder). For a long time, in the old pharmacopoeia, alcohol or alkohol was used to designate powdered substances of extreme fineness. Glaser gives the following definition in his “Traité de la Chymie”, (1663): “Alcoholiser is to reduce some very subtle and impalpable matter in powder, it is also used when one has exalted some spirit or essence and when it has been well deprived of its phlegm and of all impure substances: that is where does it comes from that wine alcohol is called well rectified spirit”. In the 6th edition of the Dictionary of the Academy (1877), the etymology (preserved in English and German) was deleted and the word alcohol has taken its definitive form. [SOS I hope I translated everything correctly, but the old language is finicky.]
Rhum comes from the English rum, which gave rum in German, ron in Spanish and Portuguese, rom in Russian and Swedish. The origin of the word is obscure. We can not accept the hypothesis put forward by some and that it represents the last syllable of the generic name of sugar cane, Saccharum. It has also been derived from the term Malay brum, which means “spirit-like” (3).
(3) P. Doire — Dictionnaire des Sciences et leurs applications.
More likely, rum would come from the contraction of rumbustion or rumbullion, old terms used in Devonshire and meaning “trouble, agitation, disorder”. We find, indeed, these words used before that of rum, and today some sailors use the expression rumbowling to designate the grog.
An old writer wrote in 1651 about Jamaica: “The chief feedling they make in the Island is Rumbullion, aka Kill-Devill, and this is made of sugar canes distilled, a hott, hellish and terrible liquor” (4). Hughes (5) reports in 1672: “They … make a sort of strong water they call Rumbullion, stronger than spirit of wine”. The first official mention made of this spirit under the name “rum” appears to be in an Order of the Governor and Council of Jamaica, dated July 3, 1661.
(4) D. Davis — Cavaliers and Roundheads Barbados, 112, 1887
(5) Amer, Physitian, 34 1672.
The old French writers usually wrote rum, which is the best spelling, writes Littré in his “Dictionary of the French language, being the spelling of the English who passed on the product to us” Others spelled rome (de Cossigny). It was not until the middle of the last century that the use prevailed of inserting an “h” and writing rhum (6).
(6) This spelling already appears in 1′ “Encyclopedie” of Diderot and d’Alembert (art. punch), but it will not generalize until much later.
The origin of the term tafia (or taffia) is even more uncertain than that of
rum. It seems that it was born among the natives of the French West Indies, according to a statement by P. Labat, who writes: “The brandy that is fired from the cane is called guildive, the savages and negros call it taffia.” However, in Malay dictionaries, one also finds this word, with the meaning of molasses brandy (1).
(1) The Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford, 1933.
As for the term guildive, now fallen into disuse, except in Haiti, Reunion and Mauritius, where it would still be used sometimes, it seems to derive from Kill-Devil, an expression frequently used in the English islands from the beginnings of colonization. Littré reports on this subject: “Mr. Roullin made some conjectures, supposing that giul represents either guiller, fermenter, or giler, popular term to spring, and then dive, corrupt form of devil”
Origin of eaux-de-vie.
Fermented drinks have been known since ancient times. Genesis attributes to Noah the discovery of wine, the year following the Flood. The Egyptians, who probably came from Asia 5000 BC, knew the art of making wine; they also prepared a kind of beer. It has been argued that in the Far East the manufacture of fermented beverages was already widespread 2000 years before the Christian era. Udoy Chand Dutt gives the Sanskrit names for two alcoholic liquors from sugar cane: the sidhu provided by the cane juice, and the gaudi obtained with the molasses.
On the other hand, alcohol as distilled liquid was only known at a relatively recent time. No text of the ancient writers, Egyptians, Greeks in the Hebrew, relates to it, and it is necessary to arrive at the alchemists of the Middle Ages to find allusions to this product. The Greek scientists of the School of Alexandria (II century), who studied distillation very much and imagined many forms of apparatus to be distilled, did not think of applying it to fermented drinks. Those of the Arab School, from the 8th to the 12th century, who in their writings speak at length of distillation, do not seem to have thought of it more, according to Berthelot. The first author who gives a definite name to the liquid resulting from the distillation of wine seems to have been Marcus Graecus, whose writings date back to the thirteenth century, according to Hoefer. Arnaud de Villeneuve (1250-1314), to whom some mistakenly attributed the discovery of brandy, was the first alchemist who studied in some detail the distillation of wine.
During the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, brandy, prepared only by the alchemists, remained a rare and very expensive substance. It was considered as a special sovereign and a prince’s remedy, of which the great lords alone could procure some flasks. The use began to spread towards the end of the sixteenth century.
In 1624, the corporation of distillers was organized in France for the manufacture and sale of spirits, operations which were hitherto carried out by privileged traders, apothecary grocers and vinegar makers. Around 1630, the provinces of Aunis and Saintonge (Charentes) began to convert wines from the region into brandy. At the end of the century, the production of alcohol had become so important that the Government, by an edict of December, 1686, thought it ought to establish a fourth and eighth tax, raised to 50 livres 8 sols at the entrances to Paris, “in order to prevent the great consumption which is done in the kingdom.”
From the 18th century, the distillation of wine became a prosperous industry in France. In the second half of the century, the exports of Cognac brandies abroad amounted to 10 to 15,000 hl. and by 1750, the totality of wine spirits shipped annually by the port of La Rochelle amounted to 35-40,000 barrels of 200 liters. From this time dates the creation of the great Cognac houses: Martell et Cie (1705), Hennessy and Co. (1765), Otard-Dupuy (1795), etc.
In order to protect the wine spirits trade against the competition of other spirits, a Declaration of the King, dated January 24, 1713, forbade “a fine of 3,000 pounds of fine and confiscation, the manufacture of eau-de-vie of cider and pear, throughout the whole of the kingdom, with the exception of the province of Normandy and the various dioceses which compose that of Brittany, to carry such spirits from one of the said provinces to the other and in all the other places and provinces of the kingdom, a fine of 2,000 pounds fine and confiscation of spirits and carriages, carry these spirits to the foreign country, and embark on foreign vessels, under penalty of the same fines and confiscation”. This edict also defended, under the same penalties, the manufacture and trade of spirits of “syrup, molasses, grain, beer, boissiere, marc of grapes, mead and all other matter than wine.”
The origins of rum in the XIX century.
The making of rum probably followed the establishment of Europeans in America.
On his second voyage to America (1493), Columbus transported sugar cane from the Canary Islands to Hispaniola (Santo Domingo). The plant reached Mexico in 1520, Brazil in 1532 and Peru in 1533. Its introduction to the French and English Antilles probably dates from around 1630. In any case, the cane existed in 1640 in Martinique and Guadeloupe and as early as 1635, the directors of the “Company of the Islands of America” committed the settlers to its culture.
The consumption of alcohol began to spread at that time, so it is possible that the first settlers thought of fermenting and distilling the cane juice before extracting the sugar. Be that as it may, as soon as the sugar industry was established around the middle of the seventeenth century, the making of rum appeared as the normal use of by-products: defecation foam and molasses, or “big syrups”. , from the wastes of raw sugars.
One of the first authors to talk about the alcoholic use of the cane is P. du Tertre, who made several trips to the French West Indies between 1640 and 1657. “The broken and exhausted canes of their juice,” he writes in his article. The general history of Antilles inhabited by the French (1667), “as well as the scums are not useless, because for the foam of the second and third boilers, and all that is spread by stirring it, falls on the glaze furnaces and sinks in a raft, where it is reserved to make brandy, the Negroes make drinks that invigorating and of which we have a pretty good flow in the Isles… The juice of the canes which not having been put in the boilers quickly enough, becomes sour, being mixed with water, boiling and making a drink called Vesoü, which sells very well in the Isles, et tous ces petits ménages doivent deffrayer toute la famille d’une sucrerie bien réglée”. [SOS I don’t know how exactly to translate the last line.]
Among the references of English authors, one can quote, in addition to those already given, Warren (1): “The rum is a spirit extracted from the juice of the cane with sugar, generally twice as strong as the brandy”. Hughes: “The rum is usually consumed by the planters, both alone and in the form of punch.” R. Ligon (2), who lived in Barbados about 1650, does not mention rum: he only points out that one made, by heating together sugar and water and leaving the mixture to himself for 10 days, an alcoholic drink called punch.
(1) Descr. Surinam VI, 17, 1667.
(2) A true and exact History of the Island of Barbados. London 1657.
P. Labat, who arrived in the West Indies in 1694 and lived there for 11 years, describes at length the fabrication of the the guildive, in his “New voyage to the Isles of America”.
“The brandy that is distilled from canes is called guildive, the savages and the negroes call it tafia, it is very strong and has an unpleasant odor, and acrid much like grain brandy, that it is difficult to remove.”
“The place where it is done is called vinaigrerie (3) .. I do not know why it has been given this name which does not suit it in any way. I have already noticed that it would be more-about to name it a distillateire, but it is not easy to change these sorts of names, when they are once in use. This place must be joined, or at least very close to the sucrerie, so that the froths and the big syrups can be carried comfortably, or with saddles and buckets, or by means of a gutter. In the dwellings where there is a water mill, it is necessary to place the vinaigrerie so that one can drive there, with gutters, the water that escapes from the wheel, so much to fill the vats, as to continually refresh the condensers.”
(3) This term does not come, as suggested by Pairault, from the fact that the fermentation tanks were to be easily invaded by the acetic ferment, but that originally, in France, the eau-de-vie was manufactured by the corporation of vinegar makers. It remains in use in the French West Indies until about the middle of the 19th century.
“The utensils of a vinegar factory consist of a few wooden vats, one or two boilers with their capitals and their condenser, a skimmer, a few jars, pots and bowls or buckets.”
“The vats are of different sizes, depending on the capacity of the building and the work that can be done there. They use wooden vats rather than masonry, because the vats are made of wood they soak up the juice that has soured in it, which helps considerably to sour and ferment whatever is put in it.”
“The vats are filled with water up to two-thirds, sometimes as much as three-quarters, and they are filled with large syrups and scums and covered with balsam leaves and boards over them and at the end of two or three days, according to the goodness of the foam and the syrup, this liquor ferments, boils and throws up a rather thick foam to which all the filth which was in the syrup or in when it has acquired the degree of force and bitterness which is necessary to it, what is known about its color which becomes yellow, its taste which is very sour, and its odor which is strong and penetrating, it is put in the boilers, after having removed with a skimmer all the foam and all the garbage are stuck on it”.
The still used was a copper boiler, measuring about 0 m 80 in diameter and 1 m 30 in height surmounted by a copper capital. The latter was connected to a serpentine condenser, made of copper or tin, placed in a barrel containing cold water, which was renewed in a continuous manner (see Chapter VII).
“The first liquor that comes from a boiler is called the small water, because it does not have much strength. You keep everything you get from small water during the first five days of the week, and one or two boilers are filled to iron Saturday, and the spirit that comes out of it is really the eau-de-vie, taffia or guildive, which is very strong and very violent.”
“In sugar houses, where there are two boilers for brandy, one must make 160 pots or about a measure of Paris a week, and sell it usually 10 sols per pot, and sometimes more, on everything in times when we do not make sugar, and when the French brandy and the wines are rare and expensive.”
H. Sloane (1) gives the following information:
“Our most common drinks are the Madeira wine and rum-punch. The first, mixed with water, is the drink of honest people, the people and the servants use a lot of the other… The rum-punch is aptly named Kill devil, because there may be no year that he kills more than a thousand people. When the new landed makes the slightest excess, they expose themselves extremely, because this liquor warms the blood and soon causes a fever which in a few hours puts you in the tomb. It can not be used too moderately, and it would be best to refrain from it altogether, at least until one has the body made in the air of the country.”
(1) A voyage to the Islands Maderas, Barbados, Nieves, Saint-Christophers and Jamaica with the natural History of the last of these Islands. London 1707 — 25. Traduit en francais par M…, sous le titre “Histoire de la Jamaique”, Londres 1751.
“It is with the foam of sugar and molasses that the rum is made, for this purpose, we put in a tank a portion of molasses with four parts of water. The whole is stirred twice in 24 hours with a spoon of copper; after ten days, we put everything in a still well strained and distill ordinarily.”
The Journal Oeconomique (1783, p.141) describes how the rum was prepared in the mid-eighteenth century as follows:
“Take one-third of the boilers’ scum, one-third of the wash water and one-third of the cold, clear liquor (vinasse) to warm up and ferment the whole thing. Now, by adding a few gallons of molasses, an expert distiller can vary these doses without losing his success. When these cold ingredients are put together and cooked well, the fermentation begins soon, and. in 24 hours time, it will be advanced enough to add the molasses at the rate of about 3 gallons on every 100 gallons of the wash or leaguer. This molasses perfects the mixture, thickens the fermentation; and about 24 hours after the liquor is ready to receive the second and last dose of molasses, which is about the same quantity as the first; but we must be careful not to give him the debt of molasses before the fermentation diminishes, otherwise the liquor would become slack and lazy, and give not the same quantity of spirit. Fermentation decreases little by little after four or five days. And when the Liquor becomes beautiful and pushes the surface of the clear and infrequent air bubbles, it is suitable for putting into the still, from which the spirit is distilled by means of an equal and constant fire; during this time, care must be taken to maintain cold water in the coolant. For the colder it is, the stronger the spirit will be, in great quantity and ripeness.”
“Although this is the usual proportion of the method of working the ingredients that go into the composition of the rum, many planters who distill every year a considerable quantity of this liquor, mix their ingredients in the following manner: they employ three parts of water, 1 1/2 parts of molasses and as much dregs. This composition requires a long fermentation that usually lasts from ten to twenty days and gives a large amount of good spirit. Others who, by negligence, by accident or because they lack workers, have large quantities of bad canes, ferment the juice and use it to make rum, but it has fermented enough in three days, it never provides good spirit or abundance.”
“The best economics, on plantations, usually make 200 gallons of ordinary good rum for every three cubes of sugar. This proportion, however, is liable to vary according to the quality of the cane, because there are plants whose juice is more viscous and makes more foam and molasses than the others.”
The Roman writes, in the “Encyclopedia” of Diderot and d’Alembert, about the preparation of the taffia:
“We begin by putting in large wooden vats built in one piece, two parts of clear water, on which we pour a portion of large syrup of froths and melted debris of sugar: we cover the vats with boards and give time for the fermentation to produce its effect. ”
“It is usually with color, as well as with the smell, that the worker judges whether the batch is in a condition to be passed to the still. So we remove very exactly all the garbage and the scum that float and we pour the bunch into large boilers placed on a stove in which a fire is made.”
“When the spirit does not rise in the capital, the joints of the neck are loosened, and after having seen the boiler they are filled with new batches, and the distillation is repeated to obtain a certain quantity of first distilled water, which being weak needs to be repassed a second time to the still. This rectification acquires a lot of clarity and strength. It is very spirited, but by the few precautions, it always contracts airiness and tanned leather smell very unpleasant to those who are not accustomed to it.”
Dutrone La Couture (1) reports:
“In the first part of the rumerie, fermentation vats are stored standing. These pieces receive syrups extended water in a proportion such that they carry 11 & 12 degrees to the hydrometer, in this state they take the name of rasps. The fermented rasp are carried in a still or distilled. The product that we obtain is rum or taffia according to the state of the syrup, and according to the circumstances which have accelerated the fermentation and the distillation rasps.” [SOS the translatoin really fell apart and I have no idea what is happening here.]
(1) Precis sur la canne et sur les moyens d’en extraire le sel essentiel. Paris, 1790.
“We distill as long as we see “proof” of the liquor, says de Prefontaine (2): when it gives no more, it is called petit taffia. It is rejected on a second quantity of fermented liquor, it serves to fortify the taffia that one draws. For, instead of water, we can use what remains of the previous distillation to fill the vats, provided that it is fresh.”
(2) Maison rustique a l’usage des habitants de cayenne. Paris 1763.
A former inhabitant of Santo Domingo, S.J. Ducœurjoly, describes at length the manufacture of rum according to the English method, towards the end of the XVIIIth century.
According to this author, a well-established rhummerie had to include: two 300-gallon stills each, a 150-gallon still, to distill the small water: oak fermentation tanks, 310 gallons of capacity and conical shape, at number of 10-12 per alembic: two 5-gallon links or tubs, to measure liquids used in the composition of bunches in high-capacity tanks, to receive scoops and “drainages” (vinasses): finally, barrels in 500-600 gallon oak yard for rum conservation.
The fermentation time of the musts, consisting of a mixture of froths, molasses, vinasse and water in varying proportions (see Chapter V), was usually 7-8 days, but could reach 11- 12 days. The author insists on the need to rinse well the “pièces à grappe” with each operation, to carefully remove the foam rising on the surface of the mosts and to cover the vats with a wooden lid or, better, with thick mats made with dried banana leaves.
The distillation was cut off when the degree of rum fell to 30° below the proof (40° GL). The small waters which were then analyzed were distilled apart and provided a “spirit” at 46-47° GL, of which served to raise the degree of rum too low. Commercial rum was usually 25-25 degrees below proof (41-42 degrees), exceptionally 22 degrees (45.5 degrees) when it was destined for the London market. [SOS this paragraph probably needs more translation attention.]
The yield was good under 120-130 gallons of marketable rum per 300 gallons of must and 1 gallon of rum per gallon of molasses or 5 gallons of skimmings used. Outside of the season, when the canes had the highest amount of saccharine (March to May), they were usually much lower.
From the foregoing indications it follows that the methods of making cane spirits used in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries varied considerably. The quality of the product obtained was generally mediocre or frankly bad, which was due to the inferior quality of the raw materials employed (1), the little care given to the fermentations and especially to a faulty distillation. The eau-de-vie from must in which the acetic ferments (favored by the flat shape of wooden “vats”), butyric or even putrid (alkaline foam) were to be easily developed would have needed to be strongly rectified for to be free of bad tastes. However, the average alcoholic strength of the distillate rarely exceeded 42° G.L. and was often weaker, especially in the French colonies.
(1) Foams of defecation, rich in ferments of all kinds and with an alkaline reaction favorable to the development of bacterial fermentations, presented themselves as particularly defective. They mixed with washing water and cane debris to produce an inferior tafia.
“The rum of better quality,” writes Le Normand, in his “Treatise on the Art of the Distiller of Spirits and Spirits” (Paris 1817), is that which is made only with molasses; but that is in the the fermentation of which we leave the debris of the sugar cane, the foam, etc.. always retains a touch of disagreeable acid, and often contracts the taste of burning, which makes it rejected from commerce, abandoned to the negroes who work in sugar mill; it is called for this reason Negro rum.”
The rums of the English islands, especially those of Barbados and Jamaica, were much superior to the guildives and tafias of the French colonies, especially because they were the object of a more thorough rectification.
Various authors report that the French colonists mixed the “small waters” obtained at the end of the distillation with the tafia, while the English subjected them to a new distillation and used the strong alcohol resulting from this operation to increase the alcoholic strength of the commercial rum (Ducæurjoly).
Charpentier de Cossigny, who published in 1781 and 1782 in the Ile-de-France (now Mauritius), two remarkable “Memoirs on the manufacture of sugar spirits”, wrote on this subject:
“A modern author who has treated in the greatest detail the manufacture of the English rum, claims that the product of this liqueur forms one-third of the revenue of the sweets of this colony (Jamaica). He adds that the French mix the small water (this is the last part of each distillation) with the taffia, and that the English set it apart and rectify it. It attributes to this process the great difference that exists between the two liquors.”
“It does not seem to me possible that the French mix the small water, which is also called blanquette, and which has a milky color, with taffia. Not only, it would bespoil it, but make it far too weak it would be no longer marketable, and would be, so to speak, worthless. The rectification of the small water is a process known to everybody, and absolutely necessary. This is not what gives quality to the English rome: it is the rectification of the taffia itself, and probably the attention that the burners of Jamaica have to remove the froths from their batches, after two or three days of fermentation, because they would become putrid or they would communicate a bad taste and a foul odor to the batch and, consequently, to the eau-de-vie. In addition, it is advisable to filter the batches, before putting them in the still, to remove all the coarse materials which are prone to burning, and which, afterwards, communicate to the distillation an empyreumatic odor…”
[SOS there is probably a lot of great stuff in these paragraphs that deserves a more sensitive translator.]
“I will insist on the advice I gave the distillers to rectify the liquor destined for export, and not to deliver it to the trade which at least, at the Baumé armeometer, 21 degrees. They must understand that this object can become very considerable for them, and that if they want their rum to compete with that of the English, they must give it more quality because they have to fight a made reputation. The first quality is the strength of the liquor… At Teneriffe I had a little bit of Jamaica rum from an English catch: it weighed 21.5 degrees. it was a little colored. I had another, which weighed 21 degrees and a half, also colored… ”
Dazille (1) points out, however, that the guildive, “a pungent and harmful drink when it has just been made,” was considerably improved by storage in barrels. “It has been observed,” he writes, “that it takes only two years to make it lose these bad qualities. In some colonies, regulations had even been passed requiring the spirits to be kept in barrels for a certain time before being sold (2), but they were rarely enforced.
(1) Observations sur les maladies des Nègres, leurs causes, leur traitement et les moyens de les prévenir. Paris, 1776.
(2) The Ordinance of August 2, 1781. of the Governor and Intendant of the Ile de France, prohibits under penalty of very severe penalties, the sale of spirits sugar of less than 3 months of manufacture, as well as that of eaux-de-vie having an empyreumatic taste, or containing “plots of copper or lead.”
The rums and tafias were first consumed on the spot by the poor classes who could not buy the wines of France or Spain, or the eau de vie, reserved for the privileged of fortune.
“The brandy that is made in the islands with the froths and sugar syrups,” says P. Labat, “is not one of the least used beverages. The savages, the negroes, the little inhabitants and the tradesmen do not seek any other, and their intemperance on this article can not be said, it is enough for them that this liquor be strong, violent and cheap, it does not matter to them that it be rough and unpleasant.”
The legislator had to intervene to regulate the consumption and circulation of the product. The Ordinance of the King of March, 1685, concerning “the Discipline of the Church and the Status and Quality of Slave Negroes in the Islands of America”, forbade the masters to give slaves “eau-de-vie de cannes or guildive”, to take the place of subsistence for which the weekly supply was obligatory (2 and a half pots of cassava flour or 3 cassavas weighing at least 2 and a half pounds each, with 2 pounds of salted beef or 3 pounds of fish).
The ordinance of the Intendant of Martinique of April 19, 1713 prohibits “to all sugar workers of any condition that they are, to sell to and sell by their Negroes and others, in their houses or elsewhere, tafia or eau-de-vie of the country: may be sold by barriques, barrels and canes, which barrels and canes will contain no less than five cans; may also exchange for poultry, eggs, ropes and vegetables, even under the pot; will be and will remain responsible in their private names and under the same penalties as by them the facts of their negroes who will be surprised to sell in detail in their huts, squares or intersections, in any way… ” The sale of spirits at retail was reserved for the innkeepers.
[SOS need help with the above paragraph.
In the English colonies, the rum was consumed mainly in the form of Punch, which the old French writers wrote ponche. “This is the favorite liquor of the English,” said Savary des Brulons in his “Dictionnaire Universel” (1759), which was invented in the islands owned by this nation in America, from where it passed to the French Islands. It is composed of two parts of eau-de-vie and one of ordinary water; sugar, cinnamon, clove powder, roast bread and egg yolks, which make it as thick as a broth, often instead of water, it puts milk, and it is the most valued, it is very nourishing and it is better for the chest.”
Fr. Xavier de Charlevoix (3) declares: “The Poor still have a great resource for the drink in eau-de-vie that is made with sugar canes, and which has this double advantage over that of France, that it is cheaper and healthier, it will not be difficult even to take away from it the taste of canes, which gives it an unpleasant disappointment, since it is the bottom of the Water of Barbados, which has not. The English still make it a kind of lemonade, which they call Ponche, and it can be varied in a thousand ways, by bringing in various ingredients, which one finds more to one’s pleasure or which one will judge more salutary.”
[SOS there may be some problems in here.]
(3) Histoire de l’Ile Espagnole ou de St-Domingue. Amsterdam, 1733.
Note that alongside the wine and spirits, there were still, at least in the Lesser Antilles, fermented drinks of Caribbean origin: the l’ouicou, obtained by fermenting for 2 or 3 days cakes of cassava, with some potatoes cut into pieces and some concentrated syrup; and maby, a kind of beer made with thick syrup, sweet potatoes and oranges. The fermented cane juice was also consumed under the name of vesoü (du Tertre), grappe (Labat) or even punch (Ligon).
Foams and thick sugar syrups, as well as damaged canes unsuitable for the manufacture of sugar, constitute an abundant raw material for the distillery, early thought was given to exporting the cane brandy, “There are plenty of them,” Labat said in 1696, “to the Spaniards of the Carac Coast, Cartagena, Hondures, and Great Islands; they do not make any differentiation from that made of wine,
as long as it is in English glass bottles sealed with brass wire or Dutch canevettes of ten or twelve flasks.”
The English favored the new industry from the beginning, the rum being a particularly interesting product for the traffic with the Indian tribes of North America and the trade on the coast of Africa. The Spaniards settled on the American continent and in the Greater Antilles also bought large quantities. The Metropolis, which produced at that time only a small amount of whiskey and consumed mainly wine spirits imported from France, constituted on the other hand, a significant outlet for colonial rums. Finally, thanks to their maritime supremacy, which enabled them to trade with all Europe, the English could gradually develop the consumption of this spirit in the countries of the North and in Germany.
The colonies where rum production seems to have developed most are Barbados, Jamaica and New England. Barbados brandy, known as d’eau de Barbades (1), was the most popular. “This water is of great consumption in England, which supplies all Europe,” says Savary ds Brulons, “The rum or tafia is one of the best branches of commerce in Barbados. This is a considerable consumption in the English colonies of North America, and the seafarers also use them a great deal.”
(1) Later on, a liquor was applied consisting of rum flavored with orange and lemon peel, cloves and coriander.
The rum of Jamaica was also famous early. William Burck (2) states that in 1753 about 4,000 puncheons were exported (15,000 hl). “That of this Isle is considered the best, written, so we use almost no other in England.”
(2) Histoire des colonies européennes dans l’Amérique, trad, par M E. Paris, 1767.
New England (now Massachusetts State) received considerable quantities of molasses from the various West Indian sugar regions and turned them into alcohol. “The quantity of spirit liquors distilled in Boston,” writes Burck, “is as surprising as the low price at which they are sold. They are worth about 2 schelins a gallon. They supply all our colonies in North America, the Indians of the country, the vessels that go fishing in Newfoundland, and even those who trade in Africa, but their rum is not highly esteemed.” In 1791, more than 7 million gallons of molasses were imported for the production of rum.
The sale of molasses and cane brandies gave the island’s sugar producers substantial profits. It is expected that when things are well managed, rum and molasses will pay for a plantation, and that sugar is the net profit, “says Burck. Savary des Brulons writes: “It is expected that the American who makes 100 barrels of guildives & already fetched from his fund 400 thousand of sugar, and that the 100 barrels of guildives worth 7000 pounds of France, 70 pounds the barrel: if instead of making this brandy, he sells his syrups he will have 2 to 3,000 pounds less, so it would be an advantage for the settler to make and sell this kind of brandy.”
Labat, at the end of the eighteenth century, calculated: “This manufactory makes a considerable profit for our inhabitants: for when we work only 45 weeks a year, it would still be 60 barrels of brandy that the rest would be made, of which at least 54 could be sold, the rest being consumed in the house: 54 barrels with 120 pots each must produce more than 6,000 crowns, which are enough to maintain clothes, meat, tools and others required for a troop of 120 negroes.”
“America makes a great consumption of rum,” writes Ducourjoly, “and the English islands can not supply a sufficient quantity of it, and, being unable to draw from our colonies, which do not distill it, the Americans come and take our syrups to distill themselves, we lose the manpower, as well as the foam. In the sale of syrups, more than half is lost; for a gallon of syrup is sold for only twenty sous, and the result would be a gallon of rum, which would be sold for two or ten pounds, or even three pounds.”
“The manufacture of the rum is an object that has not yet been appreciated in the French colonies. This branch of commerce forms one-third of the revenue of the English sugar industry, while we confine ourselves to making some bad tafias whose burnt and stinky taste is repugnant to the delicate consumer.
In France, the guildive and the tafia appeared from the beginning as dangerous competitors for the spirits of wine, and we have already indicated that a Declaration of the King of 24 January 1713 had come to forbid the manufacture and trading of spirits of molasses and syrup, “in order to sacrifice all to the important commerce of wine-brandy, which is done both inside and outside the Kingdom.”
The planters of the Antilles protested energetically against this prohibition, which did not prevent them from making and smuggling their guildives abroad, especially in New England.
Butel-Dumont (1) writes on this subject: “The inhabitants of New England also exercise with the French islands a trade of contraband in which they receive money, rum, molasses, sugar for their woods, their horses and their edible provisions. The injustice caused by this traffic in the West Indies obliged the Parliament to interfere with it by imposing very heavy duties on the rum, molasses and raw sugar of foreign colonies imported into the colonies of England’s dependency.”
(1) Histoire et Commerce des Colonies anglaises de l’Amérique Sepuentrionale. Londres, 1755
The thesis of the metropolitan distillers, opposed to the claims of the settlers of the West Indies, is exposed in a “Memory for the Corpsde-ville de la Rochelle”, published in the Journal de Commerce of August 1759 and analyzed in the “Universal Dictionary” of Savary of the Brulons:
Supporters of the manufacture of guildives say that the guildive has aversion only for the poor who can not afford to buy brandy wine, because a pint of guildive sells for 7 to 8 sols to America, and that of brandy wine 15 to 16. Thus the brandy wine declines in proportion to those of guildives that one would like to defend for this reason since the trade of those of France, and that of the colonies depend on the metropolis which founded them. They include, for example, Quebec City and Isle Royale. They take on the consumption of France, they deprive France of the consumption of her spirits, they tend the unsuccessful trade, they cause losses. It is therefore necessary to defend this transport, without being lacking in itself, giving its colonies its own trade, enriching them at its expense, sacrificing its own cultures, the work of the people.
[SOS it would be helpful to get a better translation of this paragraph so the logic of the argument is clear]
“It is said that guildive spirits are good for Negroes on the coast of Guinea, so that they come back cheaper, but on the other hand, it shows that they succeed better by the way of the wine brandy, which Negroes prefer.”
“In the aforementioned Declaration it is said that “the guildives are of a very bad use and very prejudicial to the human body.” It is on experiences and reports that have been made during three years by the Gentlemen Intendants of the Provinces, with all the Corps of the State, that this Declaration has been made.”
“The daily practice proves again the prejudice that all the French have against the guildives, which is not without foundation. All the Captains of the King’s Vessels, all the Captains even of the Merchant ships, who pride themselves on watching over the preservation of their crews, banish the guildive from their side, and forbid their sailors to drink it.”
Fig 3.- Cane mill moved by the wind (Martinique, XIX century).
“The Englishman sells these guildives to the Negroes; the necessity, the jealousies of nations, the perpetual fear with which England is agitated to give France too great advantages, by trading in wine-brandy, all this makes the eyes of the English on the trade of guildives. If the English had vineyards, they would not allow this trade in guildives. If, on the other hand, the French did not have vineyards, they would be like the English. It is the interest that guides in the Commerce.”
It was only in 1763 that the colonies were officially granted permission to export syrups and tafias abroad, in exchange for certain food products and other products (animals, rice, wood, brick, tiles, etc.) the Metropolis could not provide in sufficient quantities. A Memoir of the King, dated April 18th, 1763, intended to serve as Instruction of General to the Governors and Intendants of his colonies, specifies that:
“His Majesty desiring to procure for those of His subjects who live in the colonies the aid which they can not procure for the Kingdom, both for their subsistence and for the other needs of life, and considering that the abundance of these succours is the the most secure way to reduce both the expenses of the Administration and those of private individuals at an appropriate rate, and it has decided to permit the importation of the following articles from abroad into its colonies; to exchange them with the Syrups and Tafias which these colonies abound and which can be only a pure loss for the colonists or prejudicial to the Health of the Soldiers.”
Sur ces considérations, SM, a décidé qu’à l’avenir et de commencer du
d’introduire dans les 1er janvier 1764, il sera permis à tous les étrangers Ports de ses iles et colonies les espèces de Marchandises qui seront ci-après détaillées et désignées par nature, en échange des Sirops et Tafias seulement, du cru de chaque colonie, et qu’en conséquence tous Bâtiments étrangers qui y transporteraient ces sortes de Marchandises y seront déchargés sans qu’il puisse y être apporté aucun obstacle ni aucun autre empêchement quelconque, non plus qu’à leur rechargement en Sirops et Tafias, lesquels seront exempts de tous droits de sortie dans les dites colonies ».
C’était là, avec la consécration d’un état de fait antérieur et prolongé, la première atteinte portée, dans les textes législatifs, aux principes rigides du Pacte colonial, d’après lequel les colonies ne devaient acheter que dans la Métropole et ne rien produire qui put diminuer l’importance de ces achats : ne devajent vendre qu’aux marchands français, lesquels en contrepartie ne pouvaient acheter qu’aux colonies françaises ; d’après lequel enfin tous les transports devaient se faire par les bâtiments nationaux.
Un Mémoire du Roi du 31 mars 1776, pour encourager les planteurs : établir des guildiveries, déclarait les esclaves employés à ces établissements exempts de tout droit de capitation. Une Dépêche ministérielle du 1er juin 1777 permit l’admission temporaire en France des sirops et tafias destinés à être exportés ensuite à l’étranger. Enfin, la loi du 8 floréal An X autorisa l’entrée, pour être mis à la consommation, des tafias des colonies françaises, moyennant un droit d’entrée de 10 francs par hectolitre. L’importation des rhums étrangers était prohibée. Toutefois ceux provenant de prises faites sur l’ennemi par les vaisseaux de guerre ou les bâtiments armés en course étaient
ivrés à la consommation moyennant un droit de 40 % ad valorem Décret du 24 juin 1808).
Malgré l’opposition officielle, le rhum avait acquis droit de cité en France vers la fin du XVIII° siècle. « Depuis 1789, écrit de Cossigny, la vogue de cette liqueur, dont l’usage s’était introduit en France plus de 20 ans (1) auparavant, a pris beaucoup de faveur et d’extension. On fait maintenant du ponche au rome, à Paris, dans tous les catés et l’on en consomme beaucoup dans les ports de mer et sur les vaisseaux : l’usage de le prendre chaud et très fort en spiritueux a prévalu. C’est du rome de la Jamaïque qu’il faut ou du moins une liqueur qui passe pour telle. On a le préjugé qu’elle seule convient au ponche, quoique l’araque de Batavia soit jugée meilleure par les connoisseurs de toutes les nations, et même par les Anglois. Il résulte de cette préférence. que le débit du taffia françois est comme nul en Europe, tandis que le roine de la Jamaique à une grande vogue en Allemagne et dans tout le Nord. C’est peut-être un peu de la faute de nos Colons qui n’apportent pas assez d’atten. tion à la préparation de leurs eaux-de-vie >>
Le Rhum du XIX siècle à nos jours.
L’accroissement de la consommation de l’alcool dans les classes populaires, le liberalisme économique, les crises qui frappèrent les eaux-de-vie de vin déterminerent, au cours du XIX siècle, un grand développement de l’industrie Thummière aux Indes occidentales. D’autre part, l’extension de la culture de
it canne en Amérique centrale et méridionale, en Australie, en Afrique du Sud, entraina la création de nouveaux centres producteurs de rhum (Natal, Queensland, etc).
Ce fut vers la fin du XIX siècle et les débuts du XX siècle que le commerce de ce spiritueux atteignit son apogée. Par la suite, la diminution de la consommation de l’alcool, consecutive à la lutte antialcoolique et à l’élévation des droits de consommation, la politique protectionniste adoptée par certains pays à l’égard des alcools nationaux réduisirent progressivement les
a) Savary des Bruions signale aussi que le rhum en Normandie.
était déjà fort usité de son tops
demandes en rhum. Les mélasses provenant de la fabrication du sucre furent de plus en plus utilisées pour la fabrication de l’alcool industriel.
Dans les colonies anglaises des Indes occidentales, la production du rhum
siècle. En 1823, les imporatteignait déjà un chiffre élevé au début du XIX tations en Angleterre étaient de 4.833, 811 gallons (1), se répartissant comme suit par pays d’origine:
Jamaique … Demerara …
Berbice … Grenade Tobago Trinitad Saint-Vincent Saint-Christophe. Nevis
74.221 301.366 309.821
8,586 80.339 42.944 16.584
Barbade ….. Antigoa …… Sainte-Lucie .. Dominique … Montserrat
Tortola .. Bermudes Bahamas ….
4.807 14.310 42.943 16.168
Les exportations de la Jamaïque ont généralement oscillé entre 1.200.000 et 2.000.000 gal. pendant le XIX siècle. Les droits élevés sur les spiritueux étant venus réduire fortement la consommation du rhum en Grande-Bretagne, elles sont tombées ces dernières années aux environs de 400 à .500.000 gal Celles de Demerara, de 2.500.000 gal. en moyenne par an au cours du siècle dernier, sont descendues à un million de gallons environ. Quant aux autres colonies anglaises des Antilles, leur production, après avoir conservé une certaine importance jusque vers la fin du XIX siècle, a beaucoup diminue depuis la disparition des habitations sucrières et leur remplacement par les usines centrales. Elle se limite actuellement, sauf pour quelques iles (Trinidad), à la satisfaction des besoins de la consommation locale. En 1876, les exportations ont été les suivantes (en gallons):
Antigoa .. Saint Christophe Dominique Barbade
21.357 Grenade 117,467 Saint Vincent
18.912 Trinidad …..
85.775 161,290 18.167
Une grande partie des mélasses résiduaires obtenues dans les colonies anglaises, au lieu d’être transformées localement en rhum, étaient exportées et continuent d’ailleurs à l’être, sur l’Angleterre ou l’Amérique du Nord. C’est Seulement à la Jamaique qu’elles étaient entièrement traitées sur place.
Dans les colonies françaises, la production du rhum est restée relativement faible jusque vers le milieu du XIX siècle : 3 à 4 millions de litres en moyenne par an pour la Martinique, la Guadeloupe et la Guyane réunies. dont un million à un million et demi de litres étaient exportés, presque exclusivement à destination de la Métropole. Les exportations de mélasse, faites principalement sur les Etats-Unis, atteignaient 5 à 10 millions de litres annuellement
La maladie de l’oidium, qui détermina, de 1853 à 1857, la raréfaction et l’enchérissement des alcools de bouche en France, la suppression des droits de douane frappant les alcools coloniaux (décret du 26 juin 1854) provoquèrent un accroissement appréciable des exportations de rhum, qui atteignirent en 1854, 4.205.000 L pour la Martinique et 1.472.000 1. pour la Guadeloupe.
La crise phylloxérique (1876-1892) frappa encore plus durement que celle de loidium le vignoble français et l’industrie des eaux-de-vie de vin, dont la production tomba, de 545.994 hl. en 1876, aux environs de 30.000 hl d’alcool pur au cours de la période 1880-91. L’industrie rhummière profita, en même temps d’ailleurs que les alcools de betterave, de la place laissée libre. En 1882, les exportations de la Martinique dépassèrent 11.600.000 1. et. en 1892, elles atteignirent 19.021.000 1. Celles de la Guadeloupe demeurèrent aux environs de
(I) Le gallon anglais, o gallon impérial, correspond à 4 L 543 et le gallon américain Eis-U ) 3 786 seulement. Le proof gallon anglais equivaut à 2 1 583 d’alcool à 1009 et de proef tailan américain # II. 89
deux millions de litres. Dans la première de ces iles, l’exportation des mélasses avait pratiquement cessé depuis 1846. Les sucreries locales ne pouvant fournir une matière première assez abondante pour la production des distilleries
dut importer des industrielles qui s’étaient installées à Saint-Pierre, on colonies voisines (Demerara, Trinidad, Guadeloupe) des quantités importantes de mélasses (jusqu’à 170.000 hl. en 1892).
A la suite de la destruction de Saint-Pierre, en 1902, les exportations de la Martinique tombèrent, en 1903, à 8.800.000 1., tandis que celles de la Guadeloupe s’élevaient à 5.297.000 1. et celles de la Réunion, très faibles anterieurement, à 1.800 000 L
Les demandes en alcool qui se manifesterent pendant la guerre de 1914-18 déterminerent une « course à la production » : en 1917 la Martinique expédia à elle seule 29.564.000 1. de rhum. La conséquence fut, en 1920, un affaissement des cours sur le marché métropolitain et une crise très sévère, dont eurent à souffrir toutes les colonies rhummières. A la suite de cette crise, la loi du 31 décembre 1922 fixa le contingent des rhums coloniaux susceptibles d’être introduits en France en franchise de la taxe frappant les alcools étrangers à 160.000 hl. d’alcool pur, chiffre porté par la suite à 200.000 hl. Près de 45 % du contingent global (87.715 hl.) furent attribués à la Martinique.
Ainsi, contrariée à l’origine par l’application du « Pacte colonial >> l’industrie rhummière a pu prendre dans les colonies françaises, lorsque cette application se fut adoucie, un superbe développement, tandis que dans les possessions anglaises, elle diminuait progressivement d’importance au fur et à mesure de l’accroissement des droits d’accise en Grande-Bretagne et de l’élévation des barrières douanières dans les pays étrangers.
Depuis les débuts du XIXe siècle, des modifications profondes ont affecté la structure de l’industrie rhummière et les techniques de fabrication.
Jusque vers 1865, date à laquelle les usines centrales commencèrent à se substituer aux anciennes habitations sucrières, la rhummerie était une annexe de la sucrerie. L’habitation sucrière moyenne des Antilles françaises comprenait 100 carrés (130 ha) de terre, dont 60 environ plantés en canne: une sucrerie avec deux ou trois « équipages >> batteries de 5 chaudières destinées 13 clarification et à la cuite des sirops) et une « purgerie », pour l’égouttage des sucres bruts; enfin, une distillerie travaillant les écumes de défécation et les sirops d’égout (mélasses) de la sucrerie. Le rhum ayant un débouché limité, de nombreuses habitations parmi les plus importantes, ne possédaient pas de distilleries, elles vendaient leurs mélasses pour l’exportation, ou, plus rarement, dans la colonie même à des distillateurs installés dans les villes.
Cette organisation s’est maintenue jusqu’à nos jours à la Jamaique, avec cette différence toutefois que les anciens équipages ont été généralement remplacés, depuis les débuts au XX° siècle, par des appareils à évaporer et à cuire plus modernes, Ailleurs, les habitations sucrières ont été absorbées par les usines centrales ou ont abandonné la culture de la canne. Dans certains pays, des distilleries spéciales, dites distilleries industrielles, se sont installées pour traiter les mélasses provenant des usines à sucre. C’est ce qui se produisit à la Martinique : une vingtaine de rhummeries, dont les plus importantes pouvaient fabriquer 4 & 5.000 litres de rhum par journée de 12 heures et dont la production globale était de l’ordre de 10 millions de litres par an, se montèrent à Saint-Pierre vers 1881.
Plus souvent, toutefois, les centrales sucrières s’annexèrent des distilleries pour le traitement de leurs sous-produits. Il en fut ainsi en Guyane anglaise, & Trinidad, puis & la Martinique, lorsque la catastrophe de 1902 eut entraine la disparition des rhummeries de Saint-Pierre.
Parallelement, s’installerent dans quelques colonies, notamment aux Antilles et en Guyane françaises, des distilleries agricoles, effectuant l’alcoolisation directe de la canne. Certains propriétaires d’anciennes habitations sucrières éloignées des usines, au lieu de vendre à celles-ci leurs cannes grevées de frais de transport élevés ou de chercher à obtenir un sucre de qualité intérieure, trouvèrent plus avantageux de transformer leurs récoltes en rhum, en faisant fermenter les jus, directement trhum de vesou cru) ou après dete ention et concentration thum de sirop). Ces eaux-de-vie acquirent une
importance assez grande à partir de 1883, date à laquelle le bas prix du sucre rendit peu rémunératrice la fabrication de celui-ci, mais surtout à partir de la guerre de 1914-18. A l’heure actuelle, les rhums agricoles représentent environ 50 % de la production globale à la Martinique, 35 à la Guadeloupe et près de 100 % en Guyane française.
Les améliorations apportées à la technique des industries de fermentation ont eu une profonde répercussion en rhummerie, surtout au cours de ces trente dernières années.
La fabrication du rhum avait déjà atteint un degré de perfectionnement élevé dans les colonies anglaises, dès la première moitié du XIX siècle, ainsi qu’on peut en juger par l’exposé qu’en fait Wray dans son « Manuel Pratique du Planteur de canne à sucre » (1848). Les methodes de fermentation et de distillation décrites par cet auteur sont, à quelques modifications de détail prés, encore en usage de nos jours à la Jamaique.
Il n’en était pas de même dans les colonies françaises, dont les tafias, insuffisamment rectifiés, demeuraient de qualité très inférieure. « Il n’y a dans nos colonies, relève un Rapport de l’époque (1), que quelques habitants qui distillent leurs sirops. C’est pour eux une branche très secondaire, abandonnée à leurs nègres, et à laquelle ils mettent peu d’importance. De là le peu de progrès et de perfectionnement qui nous a tenu à une si grande distance de nos voisins, pour cet objet d’industrie ».
A la suite de l’occupation de la Martinique par les Anglais, de 1809 & 1815, les procédés de distillation furent toutefois améliorés progressivement,
Dès 1818, deux négociants bordelais créaient à Saint-Pierre de la Martinique une Thummerie industrielle, pouvant travailler 12.000 gallons de mélasse par mois. L’installation comportait 50 cuves de 760 gallons de capacité chacune et pour la distillation, deux appareils continus Baglioni, pouvant distiller 5.000 gallons de mout fermenté par journée de 15 h. Le rhum obtenu titrait 18 à 25° à l’aréomètre Cartier (46 à 670 GL.)
Malgré la qualité du produit obtenu, l’établissement périclita, par suite semble-t-il, de la concurrence des rhums anglais, qui pouvaient entrer librement dans la colonie et étaient ensuite réexportés sur France comme produits du cru.
Cependant, en 1859. un chroniqueur (2) pouvait écrire, à l’occasion d’une Exposition agricole tenue à Fort-de-France :
<< L’art de travailler les métaux s’est perfectionné parmi nous, en même temps que se vulgarisaient les connaissances en distillation… Le tafia, grâce & ces précieux changements, n’est plus aujourd’hui ce qu’il était autrefois : il n’inspire plus aux palais délicats une légitime horreur; il n’est plus considéré. à moins qu’on n’en abuse, comme un dangereux poison. Il y a quelque 30 ans, totis nos alcools étaient compris sous la même dénomination, nous ne faisions pas du rhum, ce frère légitime du tafia était banni du toit paternel, et la boisson que les gens aisés consommaient sous ce nom était fournée par les Lies anglaises, et notamment par la Jamaique et la Grenade. En ce moment, nous sommes plus près de céder la delicieusc liqueur à ces colonies que de la leur demander… et le rhum qui sort des alambics de quelques-uns de nos Rrands propriétaires ou vinaigriers est l’égal de celui de la Grenade >
A partir de 1880, les appareils à distiller continus remplacerent progresstvement, dans les rhummeries importantes de la Martinique et de la Guadeloupe, les anciens alambics discontinus, auxquels les Anglais continuaient
demeurer deles. Bien que le titre alcoolique de l’eau-de-vie restât plus
he one dans les colonies anglaises (55-60, au Heu de 80% et plus), les perfectionnements apportés aux appareils permirent d’obtenir un produit exempt de mauvais goûts.
Le rhum des colonies françaises le plus apprécié sur le marché métro
(1) Nous sur tablissement distillatoire administré par Payan et Fonblane, # St-Pierre Marthqur. 25 Fév. 1818.
a) Menit de la Martinique, No 80 et 84. 1859.
politain était celui de la Martinique, dont la réputation fut établie par les distilleries industrielles de St-Pierre. Le produit, obtenu par fermentation de longue durée, possédait un bouquet très aromatique, manquant sans doute de finesse, mais convenant remarquablement à l’usage auquel il était destiné (préparation de grogs et punchs). Ce type de spiritueux continue à étre fabriqué sur une petite échelle dans la colonie, sous le nom de « rhum grand arôme ».
Dès la fin du XIX siècle, il se manifesta une tendance à réaliser des fermentations plus pures et plus rapides. On se contenta d’abord d’améliorer les conditions de travail des levures spontanées, en abaissant la densité des mouts et en ajoutant à ceux-ci de l’acide sulfurique et du sulfate d’ammonisque. Puis, l’emploi des levures pures, parfois même acclimatées à certains antiseptiques fluorures) se répandit dans de nombreuses distilleries des Antilles françaises, de Cuba, etc., surtout à partir de 1918.
L’application, à la fabrication du rhum, des méthodes de fermentation pure, préconisée surtout par Pairault dans son ouvrage « Le rhum et sa fabrication » (1903), n’a pas toujours donné des résultats satisfaisants. Si le rendement en alcool a été sensiblement amélioré, par contre la qualité du produit s’est généralement trouvée diminuée. Les eaux-de-vie obtenues sont plus fines, mais, trop légères et insuffisamment aromatiques, elles ne correspondent plus au « concept organoleptique » du rhum, accepté par la majorité des consommateurs européens. Pour les livrer à la consommation, on est SOUVent obligé soit de leur ajouter des « sauces spéciales (rhums de Demerara et de Cuba), soit de les mélanger avec des rhums à grand arôme rhums de la Guadeloupe et d’Indochine).