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Rhum Agricole is a type of rum distilled in one of the French West Indies islands from freshly squeezed sugar cane juice rather than from molasses. Most rum is made from molasses, a byproduct of sugar refining but when France began to make sugar from sugar beets, sugar prices plunged heavily. The debt ridden sugar factories could not survive solely on sugar production. The French islands found that fresh cane juice was available for fermenting and distilling into rum.
Much Rhum Agricole comes from the island of Martinique though other islands in the French Caribbean, including Guadeloupe, Marie-Galante and St. Barths also produce it. Reunion Island and Mauritius, in the Indian Ocean, also produce rum known as Rhum Agricole. Some Haitian Rums are considered agricoles as well.
Martinique is most well known for Rhum Agricole because French law allowed for (and current European Union law allows for) an "Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée" (protected designation of origin) of "rhum agricole AOC Martinique" for rums produced on the island of Martinique that meet certain standards.
It is the main ingredient in Ti'Punch.
Rhum Agricole is usually distilled to 70% alcohol (140 proof in the U.S.) and then watered down to 40~55% (80-110 proof)when bottled. It may be aged as little as a few months (3 months at least for AOC rhum agricole) or for several years. After three years of aging in Oak Barrels it may be called "rhum vieux," or "old rhum".