Interview with Daniel Baudin, Maître de Chai Trois Rivières and Maison La Mauny.

Daniel Baudin

Team RFP: For those who don’t know you yet, can you tell us about your background?

Daniel: First and foremost, I’m passionate about rum. I’ve been working for Trois Rivières and Maison La Mauny since 1991. With my teams, I’ve been blending and supervising the ageing of the great Trois Rivières for over 30 years. My training began at a distillery as a stock and blending manager, then continued at the Centre Technique de la Canne et du Sucre de la Martinique. I then joined Trois Rivières in 1991 as a newly-created Cellar Master, in charge of distillation, blending, ageing and monitoring.

Team RFP: What is a Maître de Chai’s day like?

Daniel: The job of cellar master is first and foremost a passionate one. He watches over the rums in his cellar on a daily basis. His work is multi-faceted: from selecting yeasts for fermentation, to elaborating and reducing white rums, to working on amber rums, I’m involved at every stage. I’m particularly involved at the end of the chain, in the blending of the different rums and the choice of maturation in oak barrels. This involves the origin of the casks, the toasting process with the coopers, the choice of new or red casks, with gros grains or petits grains, and finally the location of the casks in the cellar (top or bottom of the rack). All these components define the rum’s desired profile.

In concrete terms, the day begins with discussions with the teams on news from the winery, movements in the cuverie and the organization of the day’s bottlings. So I have to make sure that the line is running smoothly and carry out checks on it (cadence, visual inspection, compliance with labeling, checking the volume and degree of the bottles several times a day, tasting the bottled products), enter the production data and taste the aging.

And during the distillation campaign from February to June, we have to integrate the monitoring of the distillery’s stages to carry out controls, receive the distillates, taste them, orient them according to organoleptic profiles, and enter data on the rums received. All this is done in constant exchange with my teams.

Team RFP: When it comes to aging, are you “free” in your choice of casks, or do you have the flexibility to test new casks?

Daniel: Our aged rums benefit from tropical aging, in the gentle tranquillity of our cellars, in oak casks, as required by the AOC. We use barrels from several different origins. My job is to select them according to the desired rum profile. For new barrels, we use French oak from the Limousin region (around 400L). More rarely, we may use new American oak. We use our own barrels, made from oak slats that have aged for many months in the rain, wind, cold and sun. The wood takes on a patina, adding elegance and subtlety to the rums.

We also work with coopers on several toasting techniques specific to the brand. Light toasting adds sweetness, while stronger toasting develops the woody side of the product. Barrel size must also be adapted to the ageing period. The finish remains a finishing touch, meaning that it should not exceed a few months. It’s a contribution to be played with, which concerns only part of the blend.

Team RFP: Can you define the identity of Rhums Trois Rivières?

Daniel: The Trois Rivières cane fields are located in the extreme south of Martinique, in a dry, arid climate bordered by the Caribbean Sea. On the whole, the cane grows in clayey, rocky soils rich in magnesium. They draw their organoleptic profile from this terroir: a high sugar content and unique aromatic notes, giving Trois Rivières rums a complex, mineral, powerful and structured profile.
In addition to its terroir, Trois Rivières’ continuous-flow Creole distillation column enables slow, delicate distillation, giving the distillate great finesse and intensity!

Team RFP: You were voted the world’s best cellar master in 2019. How did that make you feel?

Daniel: Above all, this distinction is recognition of the work carried out with the Trois Rivières teams. We work passionately every day to make the most of our southern Martinique terroir and our unique, renowned know-how, while being uncompromising about the quality of our rums. Our greatest reward is to see that our customers remain loyal to our rums.

Trois rivieres

Team RFP: Can you tell us about the new Trois Rivières products on show at Rhum Fest Paris (Triple Millésime and XO)?

Daniel: What these two new releases have in common is that they demonstrate Trois Rivières’ expertise in aging!

A new edition of the iconic Triple Millésime is about to be unveiled. The Triple Millésime is one of the cornerstones of our range. This sixth and final edition of this rare old rum is a blend of three exceptional new vintages: 2006, 2014 and 2016. The 2016 vintage, from ex-Bourbon casks, brings freshness, blended with the rare aromatic complexity of the 2014 vintage, an equal blend of ex-Bourbon and ex-Cognac casks. All this combined with the just-right roundness and amiable depth of the award-winning 2006 vintage, aged in French casks, of which around 30% are new and ex-Cognac. This Triple Millésime 2006-2014-2016 perfectly embodies the identity of Trois Rivières rums, with their fresh, spicy profile.

This year’s second novelty is an innovation for the house: an X.O aged rum, composed of rums aged for a minimum of 6 years. The rums in this blend have been aged 100% in French oak barrels, initially 30% new and the rest in ex-Cognac roux barrels. It is the suave yet powerful expression of our southern Martinique terroir and our unique know-how in the art of ageing. Exceptionally persistent on the palate, it reveals all its power and complexity.

Team RFP: After more than 30 years in the business, has your passion for it remained intact?

Daniel: Of course. If a Maître de Chai isn’t passionate, he can’t develop his art. He’s in charge of buying the barrels, selecting the toast, the storage area (top or bottom of the cellar) and many other things for each of the products under his responsibility. Passion is an integral part of our job, and in the cellar I have a slate hanging on the wall with a simple manifesto that reminds me every day that my job as Cellar Master is based on passion, patience and sharing.

Team RFP: Which cuvée (or vintage) stood out for you and why?

Daniel: I wouldn’t say a single rum, but a trilogy of which I’m very proud: the Oman, Saint Pierre and Bois d’Inde trilogy, which pays tribute to our three rivers that flow through our estate in Sainte Luce and from which we take our name. It was a real challenge to create 3 great AOC blended aged rums, each with a very different profile, but all with the identity of Trois Rivières.

Team RFP :Let’s talk about Rhum Agricole. How do you see it developing worldwide?

Daniel: As an artisanal product (100% pure cane juice, not molasses), rhum agricole is limited to one harvest per year. This raw material cannot travel and must therefore be produced in Martinique. The AOC rhum de la Martinique requires exclusive local production and ageing, and at least 3 years’ ageing in oak barrels is required to use the “rhum vieux” appellation, which does not apply to other types of rum. This makes Agricole rarer (3% of world rum production and consumption), but highly renowned for its intense, complex aromas, whether white or aged. This distinctive, rich and powerful aromatic profile means that the product appeals to initiated consumers, spirits enthusiasts and bartenders alike, offering a unique drinking experience when consumed neat and aromatic depth when used in a cocktail. Agricultural rums enrich the category with an offering that truly reveals the flavors of sugarcane.

Lovers of spirits and cocktails are undoubtedly a potential audience for agricultural rums, with the possibility of attracting new consumers in the launch markets of the USA, UK, Italy, Benelux and Switzerland. To attract the interest of more consumers, we must continue to raise awareness of agricultural rums and what they have to offer – we are confident in the product’s strengths. Agricultural rums have often been compared to mezcal or even peated malts – quality spirits for connoisseurs, recognized and respected the world over.

Team RFP: Do you (already) have any future projects in the pipeline?

Daniel: We’re continuing to develop our range of Trois Rivières aged rums. Our future projects will focus mainly on prestigious cuvées that showcase the expression of our greatest and rarest vintages, which are stored in our cellars. Above all, we want to highlight the quality of our work in selecting and blending vintages. Each vintage represents the richness of our aged rums, embodying both our southern Martinique terroir and our historic expertise in the art of ageing and blending.