Before anything JM speaks of tradition. If you were lucky enough to be raised, like I was, on the shores of Martinique, that is one association that is by no means artificial… Aged Rhum is Crassous. That sting, that persistence is, what one would have come to expect of a brown rum.
Of course, tradition is highly overrated when rum houses around the Caribbean can all claim their process is centuries old. As heritage has it, Rhum JM is a family history, and the details of the label piece together a trail from the 18th century. In this case, they say the land, Habitation Préville, can be traced back all the way to Père Labat, the father of agricole rhums. From the church to Jean Martin who left the name, from Crassous de Médeuil to Duchamp de Chastaigné whose drawing of the distillery adorns every bottle, JM tells the tale of a land wrapped around a volcano.
Sometimes, if you sip it too quickly you may even think that you are tasting the ashes. You would have to forget for a minute that the trade winds spared Macouba, when the Old Lady burst in fury, spilling fire to the sea over Saint-Pierre and its galant port. Yet, the sharpness of the spirit once it has touched your lips, speaks to the richness of the soil itself. Beyond the diversity of profiles offered, that strength, that lingering presence on the tastebuds is JM’s signature.
It is significant that despite its roots in the far northern Atlantic slopes of the island the repute of the spirit far supersedes local pride and chauvinism. Always served neat, it is a drink for the hearty and the connoisseurs of this world. With sharp profiles usually associated with the character of English traditional rums, Rhum JM still carries the complexity and sweetness of an agricole.
But that is a story for another time… For now, we need not forget that what is now tradition, once was innovation. In that area, JM has largely contributed to the disputed Martinican supremacy of rhum aging the Caribbean. Daring to challenge the angels by aging over ten years and making it their core expertise, by betting on the amateur’s capacity to be educated to what actually lies inside the bottle, by initiating a design that suggests both industriousness and douceur de vivre, Rhum JM may have very well been the first true Rumantic of the XXth century.