With an established market that’s already well versed in quality Scotch whisky and cognac, high-end rum brands like Clément are now eying Asian shores.
Rum has rarely found favour with Asia’s drinking masses. Considered at best an addition to a cocktail and at worst the drink of the malevolent, the spirit has never enjoyed the success here that it has in the US or Europe. Yet the tides are turning and premium aged rums from the most exotic locales of the Caribbean, including the likes of Ron Zacapa, Pyrat, Mount Gay, and Rhum Clément, are now finding footing in some of Asia’s top watering holes as intrepid tipplers find the same complex flavour profiles they’ve loved in single malts and brandies.
The story of Clément, the pedigree rum of the tiny Caribbean island of Martinique, is a particularly interesting story. Its founder, Homère Clément, pioneered a natural style of rum in 1887 that used the fresh grassy notes of freshly pressed sugar cane to create what is now known as rhum arricole.
Influenced by the brandies he enjoyed while studying in Paris, and reviving the island’s sugar industry in the process, Homère created Habitation Clément, a distillery which today receives over 16,000 visitors a year.
Today, only one percent of the world’s rums are made with sugar cane (the other 99 percent use molasses, the by-product of sugar refining) and most of those are made on Martinique. Thanks to the luscious sweetness that the fresh sugar cane affords agricoles, Homère’s rhum style has proven extremely popular in the global cocktail scene, bringing a new dimension to rum-laced classics.
Over the years, the number of distilleries on the island has fallen from 500 to seven, but this unique rum style remains protected; as part of France’s overseas territories, Martinique is a member of the European Union, and its rum is protected as Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée, or “controlled designation of origin”, much like a fine cheese or wine. And with that protection and heritage in mind, the distillery is looking for new fans.
Clément recently launched its Rhum Clément XO, a rare blend of very old aged rums, in Asia, targetting affluent new drinkers looking for the complexity found in premium aged spirits. Clément XO is a spirit which can be enjoyed like a cognac; made with an enviable collection of aged rums, including those kept from vintage years in 1976, 1970, and 1952, rum fans will find spice, toffee, and tobacco, beautifully married by Clément’s cellar master.
The XO offers a kaleidoscope of flavours on the palate, from honey and saddle leather to hints of vanilla and oak. There’s a rounding of Demerara sugar and maple, as well as touches of nougat, candied walnuts, and brown sugar.
For more Wines & Spirits inspiration click here.