Dzama Rums are now available to retailers in New York, New Jersey, Florida and California. Consumers in all States should contact their local retailers and order them. Quality retailers will follow through with their distributors.
Please call for any questions – 786-277-6034.
The rums of Dzama are sourced from sugar cane planted in three geographical areas, Nosy Be island off the northern Coast of Madagascar, and two other areas to the northwest and northeast of the mainland. Each one of these locations is chosen for its particular terroir. On that Spice Island, aromatic plants and spice plantations surround the sugar cane fields (citrus, Ylang-Ylang, vanilla, cloves, pepper, wild pepper, and others).
From the moment Dzama was conceived by Lucien Fohine, father of the current owners and successors, it was his intent to capture the special flavor profiles of the rums emanating from these special botanical environments.
Dzama’s approach to rum making has always been that of a winemaker, where product elaboration starts from the field. That endeavor intensified when Lucien’s son Franck graduated from the world-famous oenology school at the University of Montpelier in France, and took over the rum operation.
At a past presentation, a gentleman questioned my mention of the effects of salty air breezes on the taste of some single malts in Scotland. I believe it to be a recurring natural and undeniable phenomenon, which is confirmed by the effect of eucalyptus trees on vineyards in Chile and Australia, lavender and thyme in southern France, soil and ocean air on the taste of coffee, etc… that this kind of cause and effect exists.
Here are the factors that give Dzama Rums their complexity and finesse:
First come the choices of sugar cane from different regions affected each by the surrounding fruit, aromatic plants, and spices. Then come the different distillations (from molasses – even the whites) at different levels of alcohol and with different yeasts designed to detach, highlight, the specific terroir-produced character of each rum separately. This process is tailor-made to achieve specific “fits.”
Then comes the “assemblage” (blending) followed by an initial barrel ageing – which will include a process by which the sought-out characteristics, top notes, are emphasized or balanced for consistency, then final ageing in different oak casks (used whiskey casks from Chivas Brothers distillery, or new Limousin oak) and eventual bottling.
Some of this procedure might be compared (though it is not the same – and we are only using the term as a learning tool) to the Solera system, where product identity is assured by mixing old rum with new (in the real Spanish Solera – adding new Sherry to old in succession), and blending stronger distillations with weaker ones to achieve the desired balance and consistency of character for each individual label. And Dzama has many labels.
While showing some consistency in style, the above processes make for very different flavor complexities from label to label, or cuvées, depending on which accents of fruit, vanilla, clove, aromatic plants, oak, and combinations thereof the rum master decides to achieve using the base characteristics of the different distillations.
Dzama is devoted to making products that are smooth and complex in the mouth while generating a warm sensation upon swallowing, without burning – even the overproof. The blends are designed to have the mouth feel and approachability that are of paramount importance to the final flavor signature sought.
No artificial product, additive, enhancer, or other is used in the making of Dzama.
Other natural factors:
- The Volcanic soil of Nosy Be adds minerality and depth.
- Cleanliness of production. I have been to see the whole operation in Madagascar. Attention to quality is impressive. No one is allowed into the bottling plant without donning cap, white coat, and face mask. Walls are painted twice a year to impede the growth of mold, etc…
- Thorough water filtration through a five-step process –
Sand filter to remove solids
Carbon to remove odors
Cathion to remove chemicals
Cartouche to remove minerals
Ultraviolet to kill germs
- To continue along with the belief in the effects of the environment (terroir), it is fitting to look at the structure of a sugar cane stalk. The latter can be looked at as a column of water. A respected amateur’s estimate of the proportion of the latter to the rest of the stalk which is mostly cellulose would probably yield a figure of 90%. That water is drawn from the ground.
How precisely do plantations of Ylang-Ylang, a vine used in the manufacture of perfumes, or plantings of Clove trees, Vanilla, Oranges, Lemons, etc… transmit their essential oils (sources of most flavors enjoyed by the palate) to the cane stalk?– Through the wafting breezes? Yes, some of that is possible though probably minimal. People who wander the fields near Ylang-Ylang plantations throughout a day can smell its perfume on their skins upon returning home that evening.
– The most likely? Through the ground.
– Sometimes cane fields are established where other plantings used to exist.
Enough of this speculation! I say it is through the movement of underground water that the greatest transmission of essential oils is achieved. The cane stalk is an ideal collector of these aromas. And until proven wrong scientifically, I win!
In any case, we can all agree that the complexity of flavors does exist in those rums, and I assert that they haven’t been put there, but by nature whose power we respectfully have learned to appreciate.
Here are the six labels available on the market for now:
- Classique Cuvée Blanche – 2-4 weeks ageing in oak after washing used Scotch whiskey barrel with a citrus solution.
- Classique Cuvée Noire – 1 year ageing in used whiskey barrel. “Ambered” with brown sugar molasses. No artificial coloring.
- Prestige Cuvee Blanche – 4 mos in oak
- Prestige Cuvée Noire – 3 years in oak
- Blanc de Nosy Be – 3 mos in oak
- Ambre de Nosy Be – 4 years in oak
- Oak used – Used Scotch Whiskey barrels from Chivas Brothers Distillery and French Limousin.
A full list and description of available Drama products is available on our Dzama Rums Page.
Unfortunately, it took too long to get label and formula approval from the BATF for the one-year Vanilla. So, it won’t be available until probably next year. Wait ’till it comes though, and we can start experimenting with the “evolving rums” of Dzama! And there are 10 year olds, 25s, etc… We have some real treats in store!
A vanilla pod inside an Amber of Dzama keeps interacting with the rum and grows through an array of flavors along the course of months and years. There’s nothing like it in the market – that we know of. I lick my chops now.
Dzama welcomes your comments.
Ask us about Dzama’s plans for visitors – their “Corporate Adventures.” They will gladly receive visitors with 4 x 4 Safaris throughout Madagascar, a camp ground with tents and villas, a well-appointed hostel with 12 rooms, in-house rum bar, additional villas at the factory, a rummerie, restaurant…
Alfred J. Dauphin
Vizcaya Wine Imports, Inc.
2031 SW 70th Ave. #C16
Davie, Florida 33317