SpiritsHandpicked by IWSC

Award-winning rhum agricole

Get to know a style of rum originating in the French West Indies and on the rise elsewhere: here are seven of the best rhum agricole from the IWSC 2023

Words by IWSC judges

martinique landscape with sugar cane
Handpicked by IWSC
'Grassy' is a common flavour descriptor for a style of rum that originated in the French West Indies (and the pictured Martinique)

Looking for complexity in the glass? Rhum agricole is a great place to start. The style of rum originates from the French West Indies and not only differs in spelling, but also stands out thanks to its production method.

While rum is most often made using molasses (the byproduct of sugar refinement), rhum agricole comes from the distillation of pressed and fermented sugar cane juice. The drink emerged in the French Caribbean in the 1800s as a way to keep sugar factories in pocket after France turned to sugar beets as its source for the sweet stuff.

trois rivieres rhum agricole bottle with sea view
Trois Rivières in Martinique is the producer of one of the standout bottles of rhum agricole from this year's IWSC

Martinique is perhaps best associated with rhum agricole – it even has its own appellation for the drink (Rhum Agricole AOC Martinique) – but it can be made anywhere and more and more frequently, international producers are experimenting with aged and unaged examples of the sugarcane spirit. One standout reason for the rise of the rum style is that many believe it can offer a great expression of terroir to its drinkers.

See it for yourself in tasting notes from this year’s IWSC, where experts have identified things like ‘vibrant and ripe banana’, ‘baked bananas’ and ‘soft banoffee pie’ in the glass. Other flavour descriptors for the spirit can often include ‘grassy’, ‘vegetal’ and even ‘funky’.

Read on for a list of ten of the best rhum agricole bottlings tasted at the IWSC 2023 – from Martinique’s own Trois Rivières to Edinburgh’s innovative Holyrood Distillery.

Holyrood distillery rhum agricole bottle
Holyrood Distillery in Edinburgh has recently begun experimenting with new expressions of rhum agricole


We run a tightly structured, rigorous spirits tasting process. That means that each spirit sample is pre-poured into numbered glasses and assessed blindly by the judges. Most importantly, our IWSC spirit judges are experts in their field, who work across all sectors of the drinks industry. For evidence, see our full list of judges.


Only the best spirits sampled receive a Gold or Silver award. For example, to win Gold, spirits have to score between 95 and 100 points. Meanwhile, Silver wines range from 90 to 94 points. Click here to read more on our scoring system.


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