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Rum distilleries in the DROM-COM

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BE ATEX and rum?

No, it's not because the team is a rum lover, but because we also work in the industry that produces this heart-warming beverage. If you follow our LinkedIn page, you have noticed that our teams are often in the DROM-COM (or French Overseas Territories) in intervention for commissioning, controls, calibrations and repairs of fixed or portable gas detection devices but also fall protection or breathing apparatus. We reassure you, they don't only work in rum stores but we wanted to share with you this other facet of our business which makes our activity rich and interesting in every sense of the word.


Risks in the rum industry

  • Gas risk: A distillery generates gases that can cause intoxication: in case of ammonia leakage (toxic and irritating gas) and in case of carbon dioxide and alcohol vapors release due to fermentation, during transportation and transfer of liquids, or near stills.
  • Carbon dioxide remains in tanks, cisterns and confined spaces. When inhaled in high concentrations, it causes loss of consciousness and asphyxiation... It is imperceptible (odorless, colorless) and heavier than air, which allows it to concentrate at the bottom of tanks, or in confined and unventilated spaces. Portable gas detectors accompany workers to their workstations and alert them to potential gas leaks.
  • The risk of explosion and fire, which is why sites are monitored with fixed gas detectors and flame detectors.
  • The risk of falls or musculoskeletal disorders are important in the spirits industry. The working conditions in a distillery are indeed conducive to falls: floors are often wet or slippery due to dirt from grains, plant debris and various waste on the floor, and from spilled liquids.
  • The risk of isolated work
  • The risk of working in confined spaces.

What is distillation?

Now that you know the many risks associated with distillation, let's get back to the basics: how is rum made and how does distillation work?

Known to all, distillation is a process that has existed for centuries. Presenting several risks, equipment is necessary to protect oneself. A physical-chemical method, it can seem mysterious and difficult. Today, there are distilleries specialized in the manufacture of rum on each continent. However, because of their culture and history, some of them are linked to regions where sugar cane is grown, a mandatory element for rum production. 

The simplified definition in the dictionary is as follows: "Process of purification by boiling followed by condensation of the vapour in another container". Distillation is indeed a process allowing the separation of different liquids, having different temperatures. These liquids are separated under the effect of heat, and evaporate. The vapor obtained is made liquid to bring to the distillate.

The tool generally used for distillation is the still. It allows to separate the alcohol molecules from the water molecules.  The number of distillations carried out (one or two, in general) makes it possible to increase the degree of alcohol, to improve its capacity of ageing, its quality and to soften its return in mouth.

The principle of distillation is simple: it is necessary to heat plants (for rum it is sugar cane) in order to obtain, by evaporation, their active principles, then to collect by liquefaction the liquid extract.

The extracts of plants to be distilled can concern the integral plant, or a defined part: flower, stem, leaves, roots.

Understand how distillation works

Understand how distillation works
  1. This is the heating flask which, as its name indicates, is used to heat the mixture that you want to distill. This is usually placed in a container called a flask.
  2. It is the mixture to be distilled which is heated until it boils.
  3. The container is called a flask because of its shape.
  4. The thermometer is used to control the temperature during the distillation process.
  5. This is the water outlet of the condenser.
  6. This is the water inlet of the condenser.
  7. A water cooler with cold water flowing through its outer walls from a tap.
  8. The liquid obtained by distillation is called a distillate.

The principle of double distillation

This is often referred to as double distillation or two-pass distillation. The purpose of the second distillation is to refine the alcohol and eliminate the excess water.

The second distillation or "good heating" takes place in three stages:

  • The heads: collected from the first minutes of distillation, they are considered as waste.
  • The heart of heating: the operation allows to concentrate the richness of the fruit aromas. With an alcohol content ranging from 58% to 65%, it will be pumped into tanks for aging.
  • The distillation tails : arriving at the end of distillation, they will be redistilled with the next toasting.

What is obtained by distillation ?

Distillation allows us to obtain a multitude of liquids: perfume, essential oils, hydrolat, eau de vie, but also petroleum, to obtain fuel like gasoline.


> Distilleries of agricultural rum in Martinique
In the case where rum is made using the agricultural process, it is essential that the place where distillation is carried out is close to the field, so that the sugar cane can be crushed immediately after harvesting.

Martinique is the island where one of the most important agricultural rum productions in the world can be found. Encouraged by an AOC set up in 1996, this production was born decades before.

The local economy has for a long time devoted most of the sugar cane grown in Martinique to this production. Although most of the distilleries still in operation have a history of sugar production, they eventually abandoned this activity.


> Distilleries and agricultural rum in Guadeloupe
Guadeloupe has eight distilleries renowned for their work and the agricultural rum they produce each year, which they age according to a secular know-how, until they produce some of the best rums in the world.

The sugar cane plantations located in the four corners of the island supply the local distilleries and participate in the constitution of a unique terroir, affirmed in rums of character, recognized for their gustatory particularities.


> Agricultural rums distilled in French Polynesia
Polynesian rum, which recently appeared on the French scene, is characterized by a quest for authenticity: the sugar cane grown on the island to provide the raw material is an indigenous variety, called O'Tahiti. In addition, one of the three active rum distilleries has chosen to orient its production towards organic farming.

> Distilleries producing agricultural rum in French Guiana
Saint-Maurice is the only Guianese distillery still in activity: located not far from the Maroni River, it is specialized in the production of an agricultural rum which takes advantage of the exceptional tropical climate of the region. Resurrected in 1990, it is the result of an old company that dates back to 1935. It is the company that produces Toucan rum.

Titre du push

Protective equipment used in distillery

X-AM 2500 FLEX

X-AM 2500 FLEX

Centrale de détection gaz MX43

Central MX43

Détecteur de gaz fixe OLC100 et OLCT100

OLCT100 detector

Détecteur de flamme FS20X

Detector FS20X