Published 1 year ago.
About a 7 minute read.
Image: Rhum J.M
The EDDEN Project highlights the Martinique distillery’s circular and sustainable efforts to date and its roadmap for improvement, as well as advocating for similar commitments from distilleries around the world.
Caribbean rum giant Spiribam has launched
The EDDEN (Engagés pour le Développement Durable de nos
Écosystèmes et de notre Nature) Project — an initiative to mark its
J.M distillery’s sustainability work to date, as
well as a benchmark from which to mark its continued progress.
Over the past decade, J.M has made a series of developments to its sugarcane
rhum distillery in an effort to improve production quality and diminish its
impact on the natural environment — and to hone their craft within a full
circular economy. Nestled at the foot of Mount Pelée, the area’s largest
distillery has been a longtime advocate of the sustainability movement in
Martinique — working within the challenges of cultivating in the area’s
terroir-rich tropical climate in the most environmentally and socially
responsible manner possible.
Their core principles included thorough review of their environmental impact on
the island; investments towards a variety of biodiversity and operational
initiatives — including the preservation of the region’s biodiversity; sugarcane
harvesting and volcanic soil cultivation; unique wastewater treatment
reduction of emissions by more than 90 percent; strict waste-management
protocols, shipping and supply chain efficiency; thorough audits of business
practices of its closest suppliers, and investment in its team through technical
training and career-advancement initiatives; and the entire management team
drives electric vehicles.
Rum (and rhum) production and banana cultivation are Martinique’s most
substantial industries, ahead of tourism. To the J.M team and the Martinique
community, these endeavors have all been enforced to protect the island
paradise. J.M sees the EDDEN Project as not only a tremendous accomplishment —
it will also ensure that J.M creates even more exceptional and ecologically
responsible rhum 100 years from now. EDDEN is the culmination of these efforts.
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“We produce rum, which demands excellence; yet our idea of excellence vastly
surpasses that of taste alone,” says Emmanuel Becheau, Managing Director at
Rhum J.M. “The lovers of our rhum can be certain that behind each bottle there
are passionate women and men committed to excellence, crafting our spirits
within this circular economy: EDDEN. It is for our fans that we wish to share
what we are learning, our dedication to the planet, and the value we hold for
our environment and social responsibility.”
Established in 1845 by Jean-Marie Martin, Rhum J.M is one of the smaller
producers of Rhum
which differs from rum in that it's distilled directly from pressed cane sugar,
instead of fermented juice or cane byproducts such as molasses. As such, Rhum
J.M is uniquely characterized by its terroir — from the breezy, volcanic
sugarcane fields; to the humid, salty environment; to the estate's mineral
J.M’s sustainability efforts have set an example for other island distilleries
to follow. J.M has shown how a distillery can create its own renewable energy in
multiple ways, especially around the reuse of agricultural byproducts: 100
percent of J.M’s plant fiber is repurposed for fuel, electricity and fertilizer;
and 100 percent of residual liquid is treated and used. Through this process,
J.M can conserve more than 5M gallons of water annually. The distillery also
carefully selects and creates the sugarcane varieties to cultivate for rhum
production: It has produced its own cane plants, grafted from nodes in its
nursery, using three main varieties of cane — Canne Roseau (B59.92), Canne Bleue
(B 69.566) and Canne Rouge (B64.277) — which are particularly suited for the
microclimate of the property.
Image credit: Rhum J.M
“When you discover Rhum J.M, you cannot help but be moved. We knew it was our
responsibility to protect it. How? Continuous innovation, tireless motivation,
and limitless passion — because only this will enable us to protect our
traditions while also paving the path towards our future,” said Spiribam CEO
Grégoire Guéden. “This is both the secret and battle of our centuries-old
distillery. In this rich land, swept by trade winds and tropical rains, we grow
some of the best sugarcane in the world. We prioritize soil health using crop
rotation and fallow. We operate our distillery according to the principles of a
circular economy, so that the waste products from sugarcane fuel our
eco-efficient furnace. Some of our surplus bagasse is delivered to the local
biomass plant to produce electricity for the island.
“With EDDEN, we’re sharing these advancements — because this is the way.
Exceptional because it is authentic. Rhum J.M is at the crossroads of modernity
and tradition, and there is much more on the horizon.”
With EDDEN, J.M also aims to provide complete transparency for both B2B and B2C.
To codify its methodology, J.M engaged sustainability consultants Linkup
Factory., with which they created a
manifesto to serve as a new standard for themselves, their partners, and their
community. Linkup Factory EVP Philippe Raffin says he was impressed with
J.M’s commitment to and embodiment of its sustainability ethos.
“I met the team a few years ago, they told me two things: ‘We probably have the
best aged rum in the world, and we may be ahead of the game in rum
sustainability.’ Working with companies such as Nestle, Heineken, and PepsiCo,
we conducted a similar audit. The findings were illuminating, especially in
comparison to other distilleries. [J.M] has demanding and sophisticated farming
practices, which are quite difficult in tropical regions. Strict prohibitions of
pesticides and herbicides are in place and the labor force is French, part of
the EU — therefore commanding fair wages and social benefits such as access to
education, healthcare, and paid leave. Massive investments had already been
made, especially in low-emission furnaces and distillation apparatuses, which is
unique. What’s more is they have a strong willingness to continue to progress.
“They have a natural sincerity and dedication for sustainability as one coming
from such a small island should have — which is probably, yes, a key trait for
creating the best aged rum in the world.” Raffin said.
In 2021, J.M became part of the UN Global
partnered with Péyi Vert Project — which
aims to plant one million trees in Martinique in the next five years in an
effort to increase local biodiversity, restore the fertility of degraded soils,
fight against air pollution, and reconstitute a green belt for public enjoyment.
The distillery has pledged to plant 120 trees per year, with one year already
complete. This month, J.M is set to be certified by
Bonsucro — an international
not-for-profit governance group that promotes sustainable sugarcane production
while recognizing the need for economic viability. By the end of this year, the
brand will obtain the Haute Valeur Environmental (HVE) Level 3
environmental value”), awarded by the French Ministry of Agriculture to farmers
focused on key areas of environmental conservation.
Ecotourism is on its way to Martinique, and J.M is building educational efforts
into its consumer offerings — taking visitors behind the label to see the full
process while visiting the property. Plans include touch points throughout the
distillery to explain the Rhum Agricole production process and steps toward
sustainability at each point in the cycle; as well as extended, guided tours to
the sugarcane fields to showcase its unique cultivation methods.
“I’m proud. After so many years of development, EDDEN has finally been shared
with the world,” says Ben Jones, Managing Director of Spiribam America.
“This is not the end, but truly Day 1 of a lifelong commitment to be a leader of
sustainable rum production practices — a huge milestone accomplishment from one
of our own crown jewel rum distilleries!” -
With EDDEN, J.M is also advocating for improved sustainability at distilleries
around the world; and it is in good company — as a growing number of spirits
producers around the world are not only putting sustainability at the
of their operations; brands such as
have embedded and are continually improving theirs through circular practices.
Published May 20, 2022 8am EDT / 5am PDT / 1pm BST / 2pm CEST