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Spiritourism atMaison La Mauny distilleryGuided tour on board the Ti Train

Visit to Maison La Mauny distillery

Today I’m taking you on board the Ti Train : the little train from Maison La Mauny, one of the working distilleries in south Martinique, renowned for its rums. This is your chance to discover the secrets of AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) agricultural rum making, from cutting the cane to distilling it, taste the different cuvées and get advice from the experts in the store, La Cabane à Rhum, to make your choice of white rums and old rums!

Welcome and departure of the Ti Train de La Mauny

I called to sign up for the guided tour at 11am. I cross Rivière Pilote, an authentic rural commune in the south of the island. Then the road goes deep into the forest before arriving at the distillery. A green lung just a few minutes from the Caribbean Sea, the vegetation is grandiose and luxuriant! I park in the large parking lot, La Cabane à Rhum stands proudly in front of me, on the side of the hill. With its typical Creole house architecture, wooden construction on a stone base, four-sloped flat tile roof, gallery and pretty colors, it looks great and lends itself nicely to housing the dedicated visitor reception area, tasting area and boutique.

But that’s for later, for now it’s the meeting point for the departure of the guided tour on the little train. Armed with my ticket, I embark with the other visitors and our guide, who gives us a wealth of information about the distillery and agricultural rum at the microphone.

Departures take place every hour: in the morning at 10am, 11am and 12pm, and in the afternoon at 2pm, 3pm and 4pm, Monday to Saturday, except public holidays.

This is it, the train is rolling! We start by crossing part of the plantation of sugar cane  then take the long driveway that leads to the Cour à Cannes. We discover the citrus orchard (orange is the inseparable ingredient in La Mauny shrubb!) and the Creole restaurant Kay Mimi.

The guide takes the opportunity to explain the different varieties of sugar cane, pointing out which ones are used by the distillery. She also recalls how the company works closely with the Association de Planteurs de La Mauny.

The sugar cane cut

We are currently in the middle of the harvest, this period is called the “sugar campaign”; it takes place once a year, from February to June. In the fields, the cane is cut in two ways: by machine or manually with a machete for steep terrain.

I’m learning that we don’t replant every year: soil harvested by hand will produce sugar cane for 10 to 15 years, soils where the machine passes 5 to 7 years. As soon as the canes are cut, they are transported to the factory.

The distillation of Maison La Mauny rums

The distillery

The Ti Train runs through the distillery in full operation. The factory impresses with its size and ceaseless activity. The guide shows us the huge stainless steel vats that receive the filtered juice from crushed cane, called “vesou”. These are inoculated with yeast for a few days: this is the fermentation stage. It gives rise to a cane wine that will be distilled in a Creole column.

The distilling columns

In fact, here comes the train stopping in front of Maison La Mauny’s imposing Creole columns. We can now get off and take a closer look. They’re quite impressive! One of the columns is entirely in copper while the other two are in stainless steel. There are 3 of them: the La Mauny column, and those of the group’s two other brands, Trois Rivières and Duquesne, whose canes are distilled here. Yet each column is different, in size, number of trays, history… and each house will retain the personality and aromas of its rums. This is where the heart of the distillery beats!

The guide then explains the process inside the column.

At this stage, the rum coming out of the column is over 70° proof. The guide has us test a small drop on our finger. This is known as the “heating heart“. The sensation is powerful, but we can already make out the taste of the cane and its aromas. Everyone takes the opportunity to take photos and immortalize this highlight of the visit.

The ageing cellars

Then we discover, in wonder, the ageing cellars, the domain of choice of Daniel Baudin, voted the world’s best cellar master in Miami in 2019! Day after day, he watches over the precious barrels. He patiently tastes and notes the evolution of each one, overseeing their aging in search of the right balance. The art of blending then takes on its full meaning, when he brings together different rums and vintages in the same bottle, to which he gives a singular finish.

We hop back on the train for the return journey to the Cabane à Rhum.

The Ti Train route

The Ti Train travels around the estate but doesn’t stop everywhere, as we’re here on a real production site where all the rum-making stages take place. Don’t worry, though, as it runs slowly and the carriages are open, you’ll have plenty of time to take photos while listening to the guide’s explanations and enjoying the fresh country air…

The route takes you past:

  • The cellar where the rum is aged in barrels, depending on the variety (photo stop). This is where the cellar master will fine-tune his rums and make his blends.
  • The former owners’ house, from the days when the Bellonnie family lived on the home site. Now used for events, weddings and corporate meetings.
  • The ruins of the former factory shut down in 1984
  • The citrus orchard
  • The store of a glass painter

"Cabane à Rhum" shop

We’re back in the boutique with its various areas: tasting bar, sale of La Mauny rums and punches.

Behind the counter, the staff offer us to taste white, amber and aged rums, as well as the brand’s original creations such as Ratafia, Shrubb, punches, Spiced rum… I taste a little of everything and rediscover the La Mauny spirit, a true local rum with warm, comforting flavors. I end the visit by buying a few bottles, including the VO which bears the Signature of the cellar master, Daniel Baudin!

Note to epicureans: la Cabane à Rhum also houses a cave offering several references of wines and champagnes distributed by the group.

Maison La Mauny rums regularly win awards:
  • Concours général agricole Paris 2022:
    • Gold Medal: Maison La Mauny Rhum Blanc Acacia 50% vol.
    • Gold Medal: Maison La Mauny Héritage 1 year (aged in wood) 40% vol.
    • Gold Medal: Maison La Mauny Extra 10 years 42% vol.
    • Gold Medal: Maison La Mauny XO 6 years 40% vol.
  • International Wine & Spirit Competition (IWSC) 2022
    • Gold Medal: Maison La Mauny VO 40% vol.
    • Gold Medal: Maison La Mauny Rhum hors d’âge Extra old 42% vol.
    • Silver Medal: Maison La Mauny Rhum hors d’âge Millésime 2005 42% vol.

In 2020, the BBS Group won – thanks to the numerous medals awarded to its MAISON LA MAUNY and TROIS RIVIERES brands – the prestigious titles of “Best Rum Producer” and “Best Spirits Producer” awarded by the IWSC, considered one of the most recognized competitions in the spirits universe.

A fun and original visit for the whole family, in the heart of an authentic rum house.

  To go even further, I recommend you sign up for one of the masterclasses organized. You’ll then be able to visit the inside of the cellars and better discover the art of aging. It’s fascinating!

The “tèt maré”, symbol of Maison la Mauny

Maison La Mauny has preserved on its labels the image of the Creole woman with her traditional headdress, the “tèt maré”. Tèt maré” workshops are regularly organized. Rooted in its heritage, Maison La Mauny constantly renews itself and continues to write its history. (See Agenda)

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