Rum Guide to France 2024

Hexagon Rum on the Rise 

Champagne, Cognac, and grand chateaux – France’s reputation for exquisite wines and spirits is undeniable. This legacy has a long-standing relationship with rum produced in its overseas territories. But newly discovered distilleries are popping up across France making rum. France has a growing scene of rum distilling in the hexagon (nicknamed for its geometric shape).

The story of French rum begins in the 1600s with the French West Indies, which laid the groundwork for many of today’s famous brands. It was on the island of Martinique that the creole column still, still used today, was pioneered. These Caribbean distilleries embraced French distilling expertise, fostering a thriving rum industry. However, like other European nations, the colonial era of the French Caribbean relied heavily on slavery.

The 1789 French Revolution, partly fueled by rising sugar costs, had a significant impact. Napoleon, prioritising the domestic market, sanctioned sugar beet cultivation in France. While this move aimed to bolster the French economy, it decimated the Caribbean sugar trade and impacted rum production. This eventually led to a shift towards cane juice rum in the Caribbean. Over time, this would solidify France’s reliance on rum from the territories.

Bordeaux

French rum rose in popularity from the 1860s and became the daily ration for the French Navy after Phylloxera, a devastating vine disease, wiped out vineyards and France’s brandy production. The influence of Cognac, France’s most famous spirit, cannot be understated. It’s played a significant role in shaping French rum to this day. Skilled in distillation, ageing, cellar master blending, and managing French oak barrels from the Charente region all go into creating high-quality French rum.

Today, when people think of French rum, it’s often through the lens of French West Indies or overseas departments (départements d’Outre-mer). However, a new chapter is being written in the hexagon. Around 30 craft distilleries produce primarily using molasses (Rhum Industriel) as their base. A few adventurous farm distillers are venturing into cane juice rum. Rhum Traditionnel is a name used for either molasses or cane juice. Grand Arôme rum undergoes a longer fermentation process (over 7 days), resulting in a distinct flavor profile.

A significant milestone was reached in 2022 when the first 100% cane juice rum was made in metropolitan France. This marks a new era for French rum that bridges the legacy of the Caribbean with the ingenuity of the Metropole. 

France tops the inbound travel list receiving 100 million annual visitors. Many enjoy rum and are looking for a unique experience. This journey focuses on distilling rum in France; taking you from north to south, sharing French rum brands, and places to enjoy rum in the largest country in Western Europe.

Hauts-de-France

Hauts de France

The northernmost region borders Belgium, the North Sea, and the English Channel. It’s dominated by flat lowlands and one of the cooler regions in France, so not suitable for cane growing.

Distillerie les Enfants de Vauban

Distillerie Vauban

Created in 2020 by mechanical engineer Christian Delobelle, Distillerie des Enfants de Vauban is a craft distillery. They offer workshops and training becoming a rum distiller and manufacturing stills to professionals. Slow molasses fermentation and wood-fired pot distilled; the range includes Vauban Rhum Blanc, Rhum Ambré which is aged 12-36 months, and Spiced Rum aged in new oak barrels for several months. Book ahead for a visit.

Find out more on Distillerie Vauban

Normandy

Normandy

In the northwest, the region is defined by granite cliffs and limestone around Caen in the department of Calvados. Cider-making dates back to the 6th century, and was later distilled into Calvados, an apple brandy (eau-de-vie).  

Distillerie Balbec

Distillerie Balbec

What started as Gris’Mouss brewery in 2018, became Distillerie Balbec when a wine merchant and distiller collaborated in 2023. This Normandy craft distillery makes a range of spirits including Rhum Kannou. It’s made from organic molasses and distilled in a cast iron pot still. You can contact them to book a visit.

Find out more on Distillerie Balbec

Franc-Tireur

Distillerie Franc-Tireur

Founded in 2020 by Julien Sevestre from Rouen who was inspired to make rum after a trip to Martinique. Franc-Tireur means a maverick fighter and they create rum with a unique personality. Organic molasses for a characterful rum slowly distilled on a column still. Fermentation takes a minimum of 7 days. The range includes Rhum Les Origines is the white rum and Rhum Le Normand is an aged expression. Contact them to book a visit.

Find out more on Distillerie Franc-Tireur

Nouvelle-Aquitaine

Nouvelle-Aquitaine

Taking in Bordeaux and Cognac, historical trading links to the Caribbean. Famed for centuries in Armagnac, Cognac, and winemaking. It’s also home to the forests of French oak grown to age the spirit of Cognac, wines, and rum. Tonnellerie is the name for a cooperage where you can visit how the barrels and fermentation vessels are made.

Many French rums are aged in Charente. Some French houses believe the Charente climate also makes the products rounder. In Cognac, the skills in blending, ageing, and finessing the spirit are world-class.

ARSpirits

A.R Spirits

Maison AR.Spirits was founded in 2018 in the Spirits Valley of Cognac, in Charente. This 100% French organic spirits producer is surrounded by 3 distilleries and presents a large range of spirits including rum. They work with local farmers and distillers using traditional copper pot stills, and barrels from the Limousin French forest. Planetae Rhum Blanc is made from organic sugarcane molasses. Max&O Rhum Ambré is made from organic sugarcane syrup from South America. It is distilled on small traditional copper stills, then aged in Cognac barrels. Finally, the rum is reduced with pure water from the Gensac-la-Pallue spring. There’s no visitor centre but you can find the rum locally.

Find out more on AR Spirits Rhum Max&O

Distillerie Bercloux

Distillerie Bercloux

Brasserie de Bercloux is a family story in the heart of the Cognac region founded in 2002 by Philippe Laclie. Distilling grains and fruits from family vineyard and farm independently. Distillerie Bercloux was created in 2014. They make a rum from fermented molasses from Jamaica, Reunion Island, and Mexico, it’s distilled and aged for 4 years in barrels. Contact them to arrange a visit.

Find out more on Distillerie de Bercloux

Alcools Vivant

Alcools Vivant

Vivant, created in 2018 by David Mimoun, emerges as France’s pioneering 100% organic spirits producer, rooted in the fertile soil of Charente. Vivant is a forerunner in transparency with the Planet-score label, setting a new standard for sustainability in spirits. Vivant’s diverse range of rums includes Gino, Lola, Triton, Envol, and Saint-Frusquin. Sourced from South America, their organic sugarcane is grown without pesticides or synthetic fertilizers and now use Fair Trade molasses. All the rums are distilled using Stupfler® stills and aged in oak, acacia, or chestnut barrels creating a harmonious, fresh, and light spirit. You can find their rum at cavistes stores, organic shops as well as in cafes, hotels, and restaurants.

Find out more on Alcools Vivant

Distillerie Moon Harbour

Distillerie Moon Harbour

Founded in 2017, Moon Harbour is the first to produce whisky or rum in Bordeaux. The rum-making is a slow process from molasses, fermentation, and distillation, and they age the rum barrels previously used for our Moon Harbour whisky. Moon Rhum Gold is distilled from cane sugar from Mauritius. You can contact them to arrange a visit.

Find out more on Distillerie Moon Harbour

wdm

Hédone Rhum

Hédone organic aged rum is distilled and matured in France by La Whisky Du Monde based in Bordeaux. It’s made from molasses and then double-distilled on Charentais stills. The blend of rums is matured for at least 3 years in Ex-Cognac barrels. Hédone Rhum Vieux is presented as the first organic aged rum made in France and launched in 2021. They don’t have a visitor experience but you can find this rum at bars across Bordeaux and beyond.

Find out more on Hédone Rhum

Île-de-France

Île-de-France

The centre of the Paris Basin consists of limestone plains with gently rolling hills. It’s the most populous region with Paris as the capital and is generally accepted as the epicentre of the French rum industry.

Distillerie d'Isle de France

Distillerie d’Isle de France

Founded in 2019 by three friends, Antonin, Olivier, and Michaël, La Distillerie d’Isle de France is an artisanal distillery within a farm in Seine-et-Marne. Their mission is to create quality spirits through local sourcing, biodiversity, and sustainable practices. Rhum Môris limited edition is made from sugarcane molasses from Cuba and Laos. Fermented and distilled in a Stupfler still, then aged in their cellar, the rum is a blend of different oak and acacia barrels. It is continental Parisian-aged and available from the end of June 2024. Contact them to arrange a visit.

Find out more on Distillerie d’Isle de France

Pays de la Loire

Pays de la Loire

The Loire Valley has flat plains, and gently rolling hills from the Bay of Biscay on the Atlantic coast to the Paris Basin. The Loire River is peppered with chateaux and is a popular route for tourists from nearby Paris.

Distillerie Coqlicorne

Distillerie Coqlicorne

Founded in 2018 and inspired by an old rum recipe from 1881 in an encyclopedia. Muscovado sugar from Mauritius and yeast used by famous champagne producers is a recreation for modern rum lovers. Coqlicorne Rhum Ambre is distilled twice and is aged for more than a year and a half in 110-litre barrels with oak from the Perche forest. Contact them to visit this artisanal distillery.

Find out more on Distillerie Coqlicorne

Rumerie Fontanel

Rumerie Fontanel

La Rhumerie Fontanel founded in 2021 is an artisanal and family distillery located in Saint Fiacre sur Maine, a village surrounded by Muscadet vineyards just south of Nantes. Hailed as the first rum from Nantes, they make organic rum from sugarcane molasses using two Charentais Stills. The second still was introduced last year, and custom-made in Portugal which allowed them to make the first distillations of molasses.

Le Fontanel Organic White Rum is fermented, double distilled, and bottled on-site. Le Fontanel Organic Amber Rum is the same process but aged in Oloroso Sherry barrels for several months. You can contact them in advance for a tour of their distillery.

Find out more on Rumerie Fontanel

Bretagne

Bretagne

A long peninsula coastline on the northern Atlantic Ocean with jagged cliffs, dunes, sandy beaches, and prevailing west winds. Too chilly for cane growing, these Breton coastal trading communities are known for cider making for centuries – distilling rum is a natural fit for the conditions.

Breizh'Cool

Breizh’Cool

Breizh’Cool is a Breton artisanal organic distillery near Rennes. Founded in 2016 by three passionate friends. Distilling in Acigné since 2019. Specialise in limited edition rums; Rhum Blanc Brut d’alambic 64.1% Bio, and Rhum Ambré Forbann Bio 40°.

Visit them for a guided tour to go behind the scenes at the craft distillery and learn the process for making premium spirits, and rum. During the tour explore all the stages of production from fermentation to bottling, including distillation, reduction, ageing, and finish with a tasting. They organise tours of the distillery every Saturday.

Find out more on Breizh’Cool

Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes

Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes

Southeast and central France from volcanic Massif Central, Rhone Valley to the High Alps. This region is ‘Provençal’ with a Mediterranean influence, Mistral winds, and famous Rhone vineyards. With the gourmet capital of France Lyon at its centre, you’ll be searching for the best Rhum Baba on the menu.

Distillerie de Lyon

Distillerie de Lyon

Richard Eloi and Esther from Lyon founded in 2021 in the 8th arrondissement of Lyon. Molasses is used for high ester (Grand Arôme) which is a long fermentation in style. Then it’s distilled on a copper column still. You can visit their shop and cellar where they host events. You can try the rum in a cocktail masterclass. For the distillery book by appointment.

Find out more on Distillerie de Lyon

Occitanie

Occitanie

The southernmost administrative region of metropolitan France excluding Corsica, includes Languedoc-Roussillon and Midi-Pyrénées. Mountains, forests, vineyards, plains, and coastline down to the Spanish border. France’s second-largest region and second-largest fruit-growing region also has the climate to grow sugarcane.

bows distillery

Bows Distillerie

Benoit Garcia started his distillery in 2016 in Montauban and moved to Laure-Minervois about 15km from the famous medieval city of Carcassonne. They promote sustainable agriculture to reduce the carbon impact. For rum, he sources organic molasses from Thailand and has a slow fermentation at low temperatures with selected or native yeasts and water sourced from the Black Mountain. Venidor Rhum Ambre is aged in Petit Manseng barrels from the Jurançon region. Estidor Rhum Blanc is the white rum reduced to 45% after distillation is in stages over a few weeks. They source a selection of barrels from Occitan wine estates or cooperages. You can book a tour by appointment.

Find out more on Bows Distillerie

Maison Cabestan

Distillerie Du Cabestan

Brasserie Distillerie du Cabestan Maison Cabestan brewers and distillers was created by owners Charles and Sophie Delalande in 2015. They produce El Cabestano Blanc, and Ambré Organic Rum. El Cabestano is an Organic White Rum made from Cuban cane molasses. After three weeks cool fermentation and slowly distilled twice. The repasse distillation uses two all-copper stills (Pot Still and Cognacais).

Hosting experiences and events, you can book your visit. They offer an Amateur Workshop 3 hours making your own rum after a triple distillation of fermented molasses, and you’ll take a 20 cl bottle of rum home with you.

Find out more on Distillerie Du Cabestan

Distillerie Nitos

Distillerie Nitos

School friends Nicolas and Daniel set up Distillerie Nitos in 2019. Nitos is made from lontan sugarcane grown in a glasshouse because of the Tramontana (cool northern winds) on Toreilles, a commune of the Eastern Pyrenees not far from Perpignan. The high sugar-yielding cane is harvested by hand and fermented for 7 to 15 days with yeasts specific to rum. The white rum 1st Batch is the first 100% Catalan cane juice rum ever made. You can contact them for an appointment.

Find out more on Distillerie Nitos

Provence

Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur

This Mediterranean coastal climate can have chilly winters and a dry northerly wind known as the mistral. Despite this, historically the region has grown sugarcane since the 1600s. Not successful in making sugar, its juice is harder to convert.

In Hyères, sugarcane cultivation has been reintroduced in the Var to create 100% metropolitan cane juice rum. France’s second city, Marseille wasn’t a big rum producer, but trader geography Africa/mid-east, plague fled to the Caribbean. Rhum famille, St James in Martinique created in Marseille wine cellar. Traders  

Guillaume-ferroni

Maison Ferroni

Founded in Marseille by Guillaume Ferroni in 2011, the brand home is based at Château des Creissauds in Aubagne. An independent bottler, importer, blender, and distiller making pastis, gin, and rum. Ferroni opened Carry Nation, one of the first cocktail bars in Marseille, and transformed his Château into a distillery and ageing cellar. They bottle rums aged in Provence at cask strength and release them in November.

The Dame-Jeanne series is white rum rested demijohns for a few months. Their blended is Rhum Ferroni Ambre, and Ambre Noir aged 18 months in Cognac cask. The Château cellars hold a variety of casks from Muscat and other wine wine barrels.  Maison Ferroni imports Vulcao Grogue from Cape Verde, but they also distill in Cape Verde. By double distilling at a higher abv better suited for ageing – Grogue can’t be distilled above 55%. So, Maison Ferroni is making rum and plans on ageing Cape Verde rum.

You can visit Château des Creissauds in Aubagne which has cellar tours, Le bar Dans les Arbres, and La Prairie bar to try the range of rums and enjoy the setting. In Marseille, they have L’Atelier Ferroni open Tuesday to Saturday from 12pm to 7pm.

Find out more on Maison Ferroni

Rhum Flamant

Rhum Flamant

Guillaume Ferroni has partnered with Kevin Toussaint to create the first cane juice rum to be produced entirely in mainland France, in Provence. In Hyères-les-Palmiers in the Var near Toulon is a hectare plot of cane introduced in 2021. In 2022 was the first cane juice rum bottled with that harvest. They discovered December to January is the best time to harvest as the weather gets too cold in February. Rhum flamant is named after the nearby pink flamingos seen on the salt flats.

Rhum Flamant

The cane juice has less sugar so takes more effort to ferment (1 week in the cooler months) and distill than Caribbean cane juice rums but creates an aromatic rum. The distilling takes place back at Château des Creissauds on a French pot still, and the yield is small with 450 bottles this time. The plan is to find more land for Kevin and Thibault to cultivate the sugar cane. They have used a couple of different presses for juicing the cane, including a Cape Verde press.

Currently, Rhum Flamant is only sold at Maison Ferroni, which is a good reason to visit them to hear more about this ground-breaking project.

Corsica

Corsica

The Isle of Beauty has a mountainous interior with lots of regional variations; hot, dry summers and mild, damp winters. Despite the wildness, Corsica has the conditions for growing sugarcane and has been introduced in recent times.

U Massicciu

U Massicciu

Founded in 2019 in Corsica U Massicciu distillery is located in Ghisonaccia on the east coast in Haute Corse. Corsica’s first rum producer is co-founded by Laetitia and Anthony. Tia Rhum Corse comes from the name Laeti “Tia

U Massicciu Rhum Corse Tia 42° is pot-distilled molasses rum long fermentation double distilled and slow reduction. The blend (cuvée) is aged for 5 months in French oak barrels that had Orenga de Gaffory’s Corsican wine Vermentinu de Patrimonio. It’s finished for a month in new French oak barrels from the AB Corse cooperage in Conca. Tia Cuvée 55° is a blend aged in above for 1 Year, and Tia Pot Still 60° has a higher abv from the 2022 Limited Series.

With the help of Guillaume Ferroni, they are growing sugarcane on the flat land near the sea to create the island’s first cane juice rum. You can contact them directly to visit the site and try a local Corsican rum when you’re on the island

Find out more on U Massicciu

cognac barrels

French Independent Bottlers

  • Normandy: Château du Breuil bottles The Rum Explorer
  • Île-de-France: La Maison Du Whisky Transcontinental Line Rum, Barge 166 by Maison Ferrand, La Maison du Rhum by Dugas
  • Bretagne: Flavors Island Rhum
  • Pays de la Loire: Les Rhums de Ced by Dugas
  • Nouvelle-Aquitaine: Maison Ferrand’s Planteray Rum secondary ages tropical rum from around the world including their distilleries in Barbados and Jamaica double ageing at Château de Bonbonnet. Distillerie Des Moisans has Rhum Canoubier since 2019, Dugas has Spytail Spiced Rum, The Tessendier family has Saison Rum, the Naud family with Hidden Loot Rum, the Distillerie Vinet-Delpech has Maca rum, Famille Cabanne has Kikongo Rum, Cholet Cognac has Don Ticiano and Don Tito, Maison Confidential Rum, Jules Gautret has Rhum Rochel Bay. Swell De Spirits in Pessac was established in 2021. Jean Boyer since 1994 has Rum Bullion Blend.
  • Bourgogne-Franche-Comté: Compagnie des Indes based in Beaune since 2014
  • Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur: Maison Ferroni in Marseille/Aubagne, Famillie Ricci near Cannes, Les Rhums Du Sud in Bouches-du-Rhône.

rhum arrange

Rhum Arrangé

Rhum Arrangé is not rum, but a fruit-macerated eau-de-vie liqueur you’ll see in every caviste in France, so it’s visible when you’re travelling around France. Famously from Reunion, it’s also made in Mauritius, French West Indies, and by several Cognac houses in France.

Places to Enjoy Rum in France:

  • Normandie: La Rhumba, L’habîtation kréyol, Bar de l’Anguille
  • Île-de-France: Dirty Dick, Vieux Carré, 1802, Mabel, Maria Loca, La Rhumerie, Le Monastic is a rum bar on the Reine Margot estate in Issy-les-Moulineaux.
  • Pays de la Loire:  Barberousse Nantes, Le Tiki bar, Le Labo, La Rhumerie
  • Bretagne:  Arhumatisé Cave et Bar à Rhum
  • Nouvelle-Aquitaine: Vintage Bar Rhumerie & Pub, Barracuda Bordeaux, Calle Ocho Café Cubano, Rum Runners
  • Auvergne- Rhône-Alpes: La Taverne du Perroquet, Barberousse Lyon, Cour des Loges Lyon, Soda Bar
  • Occitanie: Rhum Runner, TIKI Restaurant Bar, Barberousse Nîmes
  • Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur: Carry Nation, L’Intramuros in Apt, La Rhumerie Cavalaire-sur-Mer, Pam Pam Antibes
  • Corse: La Rhumerie, Le Synd’RHUM

Final Thoughts

If you are on a road trip across France, you can find rum being distilled in many places. Paris may be the corporate capital of French rum, but perhaps the Spirit Valley in Nouvelle-Aquitaine is the true capital of rum in France with producers and cellars of ageing rum. When you travel around remember many businesses close at lunchtime, it’s best to check and book ahead. There are plenty of rum experiences to be enjoyed at bars, cavistes, and events. Independent bottles of rum in France are growing and worth watching for their future plans.

Rhumfest Paris in May, Rhumfest Bordeaux in June, and Whisky Live Paris in September are some top festivals to try rums in France. 

Olympic Games Paris 2024: If you are in France for the games, book a rum distillery tour and discover the artisans of French rum on your visit.

For more general travel advice on France Tourism 
For travel planning use our France Rum Map 

Thanks to the brands for contributing to this article, and permission to use their images. Other image credits to Canva Pro, and user contributions.

Bordeaux sunset

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