THE CRAFT WITH MASTER DISTILLER DAVID BOULLE
Deep in the Trois Frères Distillery, Takamaka Rum is blended, spiced and aged in a uniquely Seychelles way by the d’Offay family and the Takamaka Team.
We sit down with master distiller David Boulle to get his take on the distilling process and why he thinks that Takamaka Rum is so unique.
First let’s take a look at the basic craft.
Grow and Crush
The organic sugar cane used by the distillery is grown in different regions of Mahé by an independent cooperative of farmers. Once harvested it is crushed on site at La Plaine St André. Up to 3 tons of sugar cane is crushed on a weekly basis, however this is not enough to meet our demand. We are therefore one of the few distilleries in the world that use a unique blend of Agricol and Molasses based Rums.
Ferment and Distill
We ferment in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks. Distillation takes place in three copper stills, two pot stills for flavour and a rectifying column for purity.
Age and Soothe
After distillation the rum is stored for approximately 3 – 5 months in a stainless steel tank to “relax” the rum and to allow for some of the more volatile components to evaporate off. Our aged rums are matured in French and American oak barrels, resulting in a soothing of the spirit as it rest under our unique tropical climate.
Blended to perfection
These estate-produced barrels are then either blended with other aged rum expressions or bottled as single barrel expressions. Local extracts of flavour components are also added to some of our products and all are diluted using our own spring water, resulting in a luxurious rums unique to Seychelles.
Our chat with David.
David, tell us a little about yourself. How did you get into the industry of rum making?
I joined my cousins Richard and Ben when the distillery was still based at Providence. I took over distillation and blending duties from Ben when he went on a travel sabbatical.
What would you say is the most interesting and challenging part of Rum making?
I guess the most interesting part is seeing how our distilled products turn out after the aging and blending process. The creation of fine rums is reward in itself. One of the many challenges in running a distillery is ensuring a constant supply of sugar cane, which is why we have implemented a policy of farmer support and assistance.
For those that don’t know, can you explain the differences in making light versus dark rum?
Light (as in clear) rum is generally a spirit which has not gone through any form of ageing. However light rums are generally considered to be the less funky, cleaner rums which can also be aged and thus dark. This is the opposite of heavy rums which tend to have more flavor components and can also be clear.
Dark rums tend to be aged in barrels or have had colour (caramel) added to them.
Given the time and freedom to experiment, what ingredients or techniques would you experiment with to make a different rum?
It is important to note that rum can only be made from sugar cane juice or anything derived from the juice such as molasses, jiggery, etc. Therefore most experimentation will take the form of using alternative barrel types (i.e. barrels which have been used for other wines or spirits or different types of wood as opposed to oak). Naturally flavoured rums made by infusing different fruit is something which we are also looking at.
Aside In your opinion, what do you think makes Takamaka Rum so special and unlike the other industry standards?
Firstly, the product is the only true rum currently made in Seychelles, as much as the cane is derived from here it is also our unique fermentation and distillation regimes which determine the nature of our products.
Out of the Takamaka Rum range, which is your favourite?
I have always preferred the aged spirits, however, each of our products has its own niche and as such it is difficult to pick a favourite when the rums are used in cocktails as the are all so delicious.
You can meet the man himself on one of our guided tours of the Trois Frères Distillery at La Plaine St. André. Tours run Monday to Friday at 11.30am and 1.30pm. No prior bookings needed.