The saga of sugar cane

Right from the start, even in the garden in front of the Saga du Rhum, the scene is set. The mosaic of various traditional varieties of sugar-cane, with their colourful names, is planted opposite a row of barrels : for generations, sugar-cane has been giving the world a delicious drink : rum.

As early as the 17th century, when the presence of rum is first recorded in Reunion, sugar-cane provided the first settlers on the island with its sweet drink, the main ingredient used to manufacture a fermented drink named
‘fangourin’. With the various improvements made to the manufacturing process throughout the centuries, fangourin was replaced by ‘guildive’, then later ‘arack’ and finally rum.

With the industrialisation of sugar production at the start of the 19th century and the increase in the number of processing plants, much of the juice from the sugar-cane was used in sugar production. The distilleries used the residue from the sugar crystallisation process – molasses – to manufacture traditional rum from processing-plants.

Only a few family distilleries, such as the one of the Isautier family, continued to crush their own sugar-cane in order to produce agricultural rum.

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