After a single year of limited distribution, the new line of agricole from R. St Barth is making waves around the world. Here’s more about this hot new brand.
NEW PRODUCT ALERT: This is one to watch!
R. St Barth is a new boutique producer of fine spirits that launched a line of high-end agricoles in March of last year. Their range consists of 3 varieties of rhum, a blanc, 4-year old and a limited edition12-year.
Launching in March of 2011, R. St Barth was nominated for Best New Boutique Rum at the Golden Rum Barrel Awards in London and was a finalist at the Ultimate Spirits Challenge, scoring 92 points out of 100 from a blind tasting panel of spirits experts.
Due to the limited natural water resources on their namesake home island, R. St Barth is made according to age-old traditions on Guadeloupe, some 80 miles away. The island is renowned for its top quality authentic rhum agricole, made from 100% sugarcane juice. The humid volcanic terrain, bathed in sunshine, forms the perfect cradle for the cane which is grown in a fully sustainable environment, and the island’s natural volcanic spring water complements the rum perfectly.
The busy sugarcane season lasts from February through July. The cane is at its richest and finest between March and April and during this period it is harvested just before flowering. They lend R. St Barth its finesse and exceptional taste.
The sugarcane is mostly cut by hand to conserve its purity and taste, and once cut, it is first crushed or ‘prepared’ by breaking open the cane fibers to facilitate juice extraction. It is then pressed and the resulting vesou (juice) is carefully filtered and then put into open fermentation vats. Fermentation takes place in the open air, and in the warmth and humidity, begins just an hour after the sugarcane has been pressed. The juice contains natural yeasts which convert the sugar in the juice into alcohol.
After fermentation, the wine (or grappe), which is 4-6% alcohol by volume, is distilled in a special column that heats the wine indirectly using a coil exchanger to separate the alcohol from the wine. The alcohol vaporizes at 78°C (172°F) to 92°C (198°F). The alcohol vapors are collected and condensed to create rum.
When it leaves the column, the R. St Barth rhum agricole is pure, crystal clear and very aromatic. It is 60 to 70% alcohol by volume. It is stored for a year in stainless steel vats, and the alcohol content is gradually brought down to 50% by adding naturally purified water. During this period, controlled aeration and evaporation of aromatic compounds also takes place, as does the careful blending of different distillations.
The rhum is bottled, then shipped to the flagship boutique in St Barth where each bottle is hand finished and packaged, then shipped to the world.
In year 1 of operation, R. St Barth has gained full distribution across France, launched into the Scandinavian market, and has also secured importing and distribution in the US. The next focus markets are the UK, China, Germany, India and Russia.
The entire range produces only 30,000 bottles per year. The blanc is limited to 23,000 bottles, the 4-year old ambre is limited to 5,000 bottles, and the 12-year hors d’age is limited to 2,000 individually numbered bottles.
With a big push for expanded distribution in 2012, R. St Barth should be landing on the shelves of a spirits shop near you. Keep an eye out for this hot new product. Cheers!