In the production of wine, truly excellent products are distinguished by two crucial criteria: the origin of the spirit and the mastery of its production process. Circa 1924, the owner of Mouton Rothschild takes the initiative to include a specificity on his bottles: “Mise en bouteille au Château “, which translates to “Bottled at the Estate”. This particular formulation was used to differentiate his products from the afflux of composite spirits brought in by traders on the market. 40 years later, this procedure was institutionalised.
The purpose behind this customary procedure? Traceability of all ingredients and a guarantee of the expertise that drives the creation of the end-product.
In contemporary times, the same principle has been transposed to the art of rum-making; the practice can be summarised in one simple phrase: “From field to glass.” This production method grants relevant rum brands the “5-Star” status. With New Grove, Mauritius has its very own 5-Star Rum!
From field to glass
In 2003, Grays, the pioneer of alcohol distillation in Mauritius, created New Grove, its very own rum brand. The objective: putting an expertise of nearly 200 years to good use, and creating products that are directly inspired by the particularities Mauritius; a tropical paradise unique in its diversity, scents, tastes, landscapes and multicultural influences. This passion and ever-renewed desire to fashion products that exude Mauritianity makes New Grove a unique brand that can be defined in three words: “Authentic, Warm and Welcoming.”
16 years later, internationally recognised and present in more than 30 countries, New Grove has established Mauritius as a ‘Rum Destination’ par excellence, thanks to its traditional rums made from sugarcane molasses. These products respect the fundamental principles of genuine rums while being original, bold and innovative. This know-how has been recognised and rewarded at numerous prominent events, such as the Berlin Rum Fest and the International Cane Spirits Festival and Tasting Competition in the United States. A success that undoubtedly rests on a fully integrated and controlled manufacturing process.
A unique know-how
New Grove produces rum from its own sugarcane – planted exclusively on the Terra Estate and cultivated according to the industry’s best practices – to obtain a raw material of exceptional quality. The sugarcane harvest takes place on the 15,000 acres (6,000 hectares) of the Estate at the beginning of the Mauritian winter, at the end of May. At New Grove, upon arrival of the ‘green gold’ that is sugarcane, the excitement reaches its peak. The goldsmith’s work starts in the fields where the sugarcane is planted and cultivated, but the shaping of the end-product is made at the sugarcane mill. The 4 subsequent stages are the machining, distillation, ageing and finally, assembly and bottling.
The sugar cane is treated in the mill of the Estate. No sulphur is added at any time of the production, and the entire process is waste-free. Sugarcane bagasse is obtained as a waste product of milling. The bagasse enables Terra, the group to which the Grays distillery belongs, to produce 18% of the country’s electricity supply.
New Grove rums are made from the unsulphured molasses obtained during the crystallisation of sugar. The yeast added during this fermentation process is also grown at the Grays distillery. Wine, which is the name given to the fermented molasses, is collected after 30 hours of fermentation and goes through a wine heater. It is then conveyed through a degassing column to remove any unwanted compounds. After that, the wine goes into a 20-tray distillation column and a 17-tray rectification column, where taps collect the desired aromatic compounds. At the outlet, after condensation, the alcoholic strength of the rum is at 94% vol.
It is the aging process that gives New Grove rums their different characters and taste profiles. Casks of different sizes are used, ranging from 170 litres to 400 litres. 30% of New Grove casks are made of new French oak from Limousin. This type of cask is an unfamiliar choice in the rum industry, and a standard in the aging of cognacs. It has oxygenating properties and confers complex and singular aromas. These casks also provide a considerable amount of tannins and a high extraction rate. 70% of the barrels are composed of a mixture of old French oak barrels and ex-Cognac barrels. These impart a subtler and mellower feel to the rums. The use of new and old barrels can soften the tannins and improve the mouthfeel, while maintaining an incomparable freshness.
Blending and bottling
The last step before bottling is the blending. This particular part of the process is where the meeting of art and science reaches its climax! The rums are controlled and tasted several times during ageing, to create accurate and balanced blends. The blending process is carried out regularly, and a slow dilution of 5% is accomplished over several years for New Grove’s aged rums. The goal of this step is to achieve an alcohol concentration of 50%. The final dilution is made a few months before bottling. The whole process is completely natural, with no additives and no added sugar (apart from New Grove Spiced and liqueurs, whose respective recipes include added natural aromas and sugar).
At New Grove, no superficial ageing and colouring agents are used. The rums are non-chill filtered, but only paper filtered through K12 paper, which has a retention rate of 0.8 microns and a thickness of 0.15 mm. This preserves a maximum of the natural aromas. This means that residual sediment can be found in some bottles and that the rum take a cloudy appearance when stored in a cool place.
The appreciation of rum has grown exponentially over the last decades. It is therefore not surprising that an affluence of new brands and products appear on the market every day. This dynamism is positive as it gives consumers a diversity in choice and range. Evidently, it is important to know how to distinguish genuine rums from other spirits that pass off as rums.
New Grove distinguishes itself in the midst of this profusion. Between traceability, differentiation, and completely mastered and integrated know-how, enjoying a New Grove rum is akin to savouring a truly traditional product!
At New Grove, terroir, history, know-how, creation and art intersect, in the very first distillery of Mauritius; inherited since 1838.