St James Rum
No spuddle about on a Caribbean Island is complete without a little look in a rum factory, today was to be no different - the rum St James. By the time colonists established a settlement on Martinique, sugar was becoming the most valuable crop in the Caribbean. In 1765, Saint James began making alcohol from the by-products of sugar production. Until only two years before, it had been illegal to export rhum from the colonies to France so ships loaded with molasses from the Saint James Sugar Factory in St. Pierre were sailing to North American distilleries to be made into rum.
The sugar company continued to expand until the eruption of Mt. Pelée, which destroyed the factory and distillery. Since then, Saint James has relocated to the eastern side of the island but today, only alcohol is produced from the sugar cane processed here. Opened to the public in 1981, the Saint James museum, on the west side of the main road in Sainte Marie, is housed in the mansion previously associated with the Sainte Marie Sugar Factory. On the museum grounds, a collection of machinery documents the development of the equipment used in the sugar industry over the last three hundred years.
One of the tour trains - we were too late for
SAINT-JAMES was originally founded in Saint-Pierre on the "route de Fonds Saint-Denis where, by order of the king on the 13th of August 1685, the Tourvaillant Estate" or "Hopital" was established. The monks of the "hospitaliers de la charite" order ran this institution. The estate reached its pinnacle with Father Edmond Lefebrure, the order's superior. He built the sugar refinery and, according to some sources, called the rum produced there SAINT-JAMES. In 1765, this holy name, made it easier to sell rum to the colonists of New England. Martinique was occupied by the English at the time. It returned to French control during the Revolution and church property then belonged to the state. Following the Treaty of Amiens which ended the English presence in Martinique (between 1794 and 1802), the Trouvaillant National Estate covered one hundred and sixty hectares, with buildings, equipment, slaves and warehouses was rented to Monsieur Henry for nine years. Between 1809 and 1814, Martinique was once more occupied by the English who took charge of the property, now owned by the British Government. By Royal Order of the 8th of June 1820, the concession deeds were cancelled. The estate was sold by Royal Decree on the 17th August 1827 to the SAINT-JAMES Rum Company. In 1829, the estate owned one hundred and five slaves. From 1840; the factory used the new continuous distillation process.
Typical adverts of the era featuring the slave workers and a cute little black child.
Circa 1845, a wine and spirit merchant from Marseilles, called Paulin Lambert introduced Caribbean rum to the French market. He became one of the biggest importers of this spirit distilled from molasses. The General Council sold the estate and sugar refinery on the 20th of October 1860. It became the property of Mr Paul des Grottes and his three sons: Victor, Edouard and Eugene. Each owned one quarter of Trouvaillant Estate. In 1882, Paulin Lambert filed the "rhum des plantations SAINT-JAMES" trademark at the commercial court of Marseilles. He began to market it in the following year. He owned offices and shops in Saint-Pierre. Until 1890, he was supplied by small local Caribbean distillers. That year, he purchased the Trouvaillant Estate which he re-named "Plantation Saint-James". On the 6th of September 1926, the company became a limited company and its head office was transferred to Fort de France in 1940. The rum was made at Trouvaillant and Acajou Estates until 1970. In the meantime, the SAINT-JAMES rum trademark was taken over by the Cointreau company. The factory was transferred to the old central factory of Sainte-Marie which belonged to the Depointes family. The Union land at Sainte-Marie had practically the same qualities as that at Saint-Pierre and the quality of the rum was therefore maintained.
The distillery, next to the museum, is a large operation that operates almost year round. Most of the cane processed here is grown by the Saint James Company on its land; the remaining 20% is bought from local farmers. At the distillery, the cane is shredded, then crushed in one of the four - three-cylinder cane mills, which are capable of processing sixty tons of cane an hour. During the cane season, the mills yield more juice than can be fermented. Most of the fresh juice is pumped directly to the fermentation tanks. The rest is filtered, then concentrated by vacuum to a syrup for storage. This is the first step of sugar production, but the sugar is not crystallized as it would be in the more refined process. After the cane season, the syrup is diluted to its original consistency then fermented and distilled into alcohol.
Some of the precious "old stuff"
Bear found this snake on display, highly venomous and a distant relative of
the crocodile - even stuffed it made him sweat behind the knee caps. An advert
featuring the national hummingbird
ALL IN ALL A PLEASANT VISIT WITH GOOD RUM