How Martinique’s rum became certifiably the best in the Caribbean

A view of the sugarcane fields, and Bay Saint-Pierre, at Depaz Distillery in Martinique. –Christopher Muther/Globe staff

MACOUBAM, Martinique — There are two ways to get toasted on the French Caribbean island of Martinique. The first requires a beach towel and gobs of sunscreen. The second involves sipping glass after glass of a delicious adult beverage made from sugar cane and distilled to the exact standards of the French government.

For the purposes of my journey, I began with getting toasted on rum because its production is completely unique to Martinque. It’s also a heck of a lot more fun than getting a sunburn.

On this 430-square-mile island sandwiched between Dominica and St. Lucia, rum production is monitored as closely as champagne production in France. Let’s not mince words here. The French can be a bit uppity when it comes to the quality of their booze. You know any rum certified by France has to be exceptional, even if your palate doesn’t know any better.