Habitation Clément, Martinique

Habitation Clément, Martiniquea guest post by author Laura Albritton

If you like rum – no, make that love rum – and lush, green Caribbean islands with soft sand beaches, it’s worth sailing or flying into the French Antillean paradise of Martinique. Connoisseurs know that Martinican rum ranks among the best; one of my favorites, the award-winning Rhum Clément, will make your taste buds sing.

Habitation Clement - Martinique

Clément Rhum Agricole

Photo Credit: Zickie Allgrove

My husband, daughter, and I recently made the pilgrimage to the historic Habitation Clément estate, in Le François on the eastern side of this gorgeous tropical island. Fortunately, they offer a self-guided audio tour in English.

This isn’t just a little rum factory: you’ve got a veritable Garden of Eden with scarlet, purple, and hot pink flowers and beautiful trees to wander through. (The audio tells you what you’re seeing.)

Habitation Clement - Martinique

A vista of the estate grounds

Habitation Clement, Martinique

A distillery tank at Habitation Clément

Photo Credits: Zickie Allgrove

Then there’s the “maison de maître” or the master’s house, where the land-owning family once dwelled. Although full of West Indian antiques, hand-crafted in the islands, the house itself is endearingly homey rather than grand.

Habitation Clément, Martinique

The maison de maître or master’s house

Photo Credit: Zickie Allgrove

Habitation Clement, Martinique

An antique West Indian bed inside the maison de maître

Photo Credit: Laura Albritton

My mechanically-minded husband really dug the vintage factory with its steam powered equipment, while I oohed and ahhed in their two art galleries, including Fondation Clément, with world-class paintings and sculpture.

Habitation Clément, Martinique

Clement Wheel – antique distillery equipment

Photo Credit: Zickie Allgrove

But the real Rum Therapy reward was saved ‘til last – the tasting room. Here the staff wasn’t stingy with samples – even of the expensive stuff. We had to try the 10 year-old Rhum Agricole, a beautifully golden sipping rum.

Unlike most rum, which is produced from molasses, rhum agricole is made using freshly-pressed sugarcane juice. The result: sublimely delicious. During our tour I discovered that Homère Clément, the Martinican gentleman who bought the property in 1887, is credited with developing this unusually fine type of tipple.

Habitation Clement - Martinique

Vintage rum barrels inside a storeroom

Photo Credit: Zickie Allgrove

In the tasting room, there’s also fiery white rum to a make ‘Ti Punch (the traditional cocktail with squeezed lime and sugar). And finally, flavored punches that you can drink without mixing: Punch Coco with coconut, Punch Passion with passion fruit, and even Punch Café with a hint of coffee.

After tasting these delicious elixirs, of course I bought a few bottles. Although we weren’t lounging on the beach with the Caribbean lapping at our toes, Habitation Clément was definitely one of our favorite stops on enchanting Martinique.

A special thanks to Laura Albritton for sharing some of her wonderful Martinique travel experiences with us. Laura writes about travel, books, and art for publications like The Miami Herald, Sculpture magazine, Harvard Review, and The Florida Keys Weekly. Check out her new guidebook Miami for Families on her website and her new blog, Island Runaways.