Domaine Séverin

Guadeloupe French West Indies

The spectacular view of northern Guadeloupe from this distillery is one of the great vistas in the Caribbean. Fertile cane fields stretch from the steep mountains that run the length of the island down to the ocean. Clouds moving in from the east against the mountains turn to showers over these green fields and add dimension to a scene that must be experienced to be appreciated.

From the northern coast road east of Sainte Marie, head south when the road crosses the Rivière Goyaves. About a kilometer down this road, one of last sugar mills in Guadeloupe is on your left, and the sweet smell of molasses fills the air. A few hundred meters past the sugar mill is a sign to the Domain de Séverin pointing to the right.

Entering the Séverin estate is like entering one of the finest resorts on the island, flowering tropical plants and fruit trees are everywhere. A restaurant, above the distillery, serves lunch with a grand view stretching to the ocean.

Started by the Marsolle family in 1929, this distillery is fairly new compared to some of the others in Guadeloupe. From the fields around the estate, one-year-old cane is cut by hand, tied in bundles, and loaded onto small trailers. After the cane is weighed, it is manually unloaded onto a conveyor, where an electric-powered machete shreds it before it's fed twice through the old three-roller mill. The original water wheel, the centerpiece of the distillery, uses water that flows down the mountain to power the cane mill. A manually cleaned screen removes the pulp from the juice so that it can be put back into the mill to be pressed again. This filtering is usually done mechanically by a roll of metal screen, but here most of the work is done by hand. From the cane mill, an electric pump moves the juice to the stainless steel fermenting vats. In the hot tropical sun, the fermenting tanks actually overflow with foam produced during the forty-eight hour fermentation. When fermentation is complete, the wine is distilled in a new, stainless steel distillation column. A few years ago, the original copper column was replaced because it was beyond economical repair; the years of separating the alcohol from the wine had taken its toll.

After distillation, the rhum is diluted to 50° and bottled as Séverin Rhum Blanc, or put in 250- liter barrels to age. After at least six years, the mature rhum is bottled as Séverin Rhum Vieux at 45°. Neck bands on the bottles of rhum vieux indicate the year the rhum was distilled. This rhum is generally bottled before the rhum season in order for more barrels to be available for the next season's production. The aging warehouse at the distillery is not open to the public, but all of the Séverin rhums are available in the visitors center. A variety of rhum punches, made from passion fruit, guava, and other fruits grown on the estate, are also available here.

Even though this is a small distillery, 17 employees produce 210,000 liters of rhum between January and July each year. In a small building next to the distillery, large baskets of small, very hot, green peppers are prepared, by hand, to make hot sauce. I have mistakenly eaten these small peppers, an experience that changed the way I look at Caribbean hot peppers. If you like hot sauces, these peppers will satisfy even the hottest taste.

The Domain de Séverin is a very pleasant estate to visit. It is possible to see, up close, how the cane is processed, fermented, and distilled. Guided tours at this popular tourist attraction are every half hour from about 10:00 a.m. until early afternoon.
There are 2 products in our database distilled by Domaine Séverin.
Séverin Rhum Blanc
Séverin Rhum Vieux

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Last updated January 3, 2011