Interview: Mark Reynier, Founder of Renegade Cane Rum

Interview: Mark Reynier, Founder of Renegade Cane Rum

2016. It is on the island of Granada in 2016, in the West Indies, that entrepreneur Mark Reynier, already owner and founder of the Waterford distillery in Ireland, finds the ideal place to plant his rum distillery giving birth to Renegade Cane Rum.

The Expression of a pioneering distillery, focused on the terroir

Born of a desire to return to the origins of rum, that is to say its production, Renegade’s project is based on three fundamental principles: the quality of soil (that of the island of Grenada); the expertise of its producers; and an exceptional technology.

These are 10 farms, 45 terroirs, 6 varieties of sugar cane and 230 hectares that give Renegade all its complexity and authenticity.

Sustainable and natural, the value of Renegade comes from its sugar cane, which owes its uniqueness to its land, the complexity of its soil and its microclimate. The island of Granada and its reasoned agriculture reveal all its greatness.

Dunfermline terroir

Without colouring, without sugar, without cold filtration and produced locally, Renegade embodies strong values, whose terroir is at the heart of the project.

100% traceable, each bottle has a “CaneCode “ to discover information about the harvest or the details of the distillation and the soil on which the cane was grown, bringing the approach in terms of terroir to levels never seen before in terms of spirits, as we could already discover in the world of wine.

With a colorful and modern design, the first twoCasks Renegade Cane Rum – Pearls and New Bacolet, in reference to the names of their lands highlighting two types of sugar cane harvested from different terroirs –depicts a philosophy dear to Mark Reynier: that of Compare and Contrast. single place offers in fact infinite contrasts and proposals sometimes a few meters apart. This idea, based on the importance of the territory, is now complemented by five new Pre-Scasks that we are unveiling to you.

Renegade cane rum pre-cask Pearls

Four farms for five new expressions at Renegade

Nursery, whose Yellow Lady cane is harvested on the soil of Upper La Calome, is particularly rich in sugar. Historic and healthy, this sugar cane has been reintegrated into an agricultural nursery in a valley of La Calome: in a clay and volcanic valley.

Nursery Map

Hope, on the south-eastern flank of the island is designed thanks to one of the oldest varieties of sugar cane, Cain, harvested on the soil of Boulders, particularly wet.

Westerhall, composed of the so-called Clean Ester cane, that comes from the terroir of the Old River, in a particularly fertile and green region, where the ruined distillery of Westerhall Bay was located.

Lake Antoine Upper and Lake Antoine Lower are both from Lake Antoinelands. Here, the Compare and Contrast dear to Renegade Cane Rum takes all its meaning since the two Pre-Caks are from the same parcel and the same variety of sugar cane but not from the same terroir: Upper Crater Lake South, thus giving two different dimensions to the spirits that are tasted with delight.

renegade cane rum pre-cask lake antoine lower

Meeting with Mark Reynier, founder of Renegade

-How would you define the perfect Renegade rum tasting ritual?

Technically, like any spirit. But in a friendly and sharing moment, I would talk about a slow melting of the ice cube and spirits inside the glass – the ice cube slows down the spread of flavors – and mixing with water dilutes the alcohol while revealing more flavors. Others prefer to enjoy it in an iced glass – like a brandy – allowing spirits to evolve more quickly.

And don’t forget that of the five Pre-Caks, four are still pot type distillates – more powerful, rich and viscous than a Charente, a combi or a column still.

-In a few words, what is Renegade’s iconic rum according to you?

Until now, New Bacolet, but we are still in our infancy and there are still many farms with a plethora of terroirs to explore. And of course, we need a step back to find out what happens to flavors over time.

renegade cane rum pre-cask New Bacolet

How would you define “terroir” when it comes to Renegade rum?

The terroir is the terroir…, this fascinating interaction between the microclimate, the soils, and the topography on the growth of a plant and its fruit. It is also relevant for vines, barley, or sugar cane. Granada being a volcanic island, we find juxtapositions positively Burgundian, pyroclastic flows, veins of laterite rich in iron, with superpositions of erosion and colluvial and alluvial deposits. A positive playground where each farm of 10 to 15 hectares can be subdivided into several easily definable terroirs – the Chablis hillside of the Dunfermline Grand Cru; the slopes of the Antoine Volcano; the “Combe Br l e” of New Bacolet; the 5-degree temperature shift in 15 kilometres, the evaporation of Point; the rich and fertile floodplain of Hope. The possibilities are endless!

-Can you detail the importance of the terroir in the taste and subtlety of these five new single farm originpre-casks?

We put on the market two Dunfermline – the same field, the same soil and the same farm – but one distilled in column (in batch mode) and the other in pot; this gives a fascinating comparison. I like the “Compare & Contrast”, exploring the nuances of natural flavor side by side. I like discussions and debates, which is why we have tried to share this exploration philosophy by bottling intriguing permutations, such as Upper (New) and Lower (Old) Bacolet; or more recently, from Antoine volcanoes, the upper and lower slopes that give a fascinating tasting: cigar boxes made of cedar wood! The Nursery and Westerhall –are no more than 300 metres away, but you’d never guess! Fascinating differences and this just in the new spirits. Could you imagine after several years of maturation…?

Let’s talk cocktails – what do you think is the best way to enjoy Renegade rum?
The Pre-Scasks (note, not Agricole or Clarin etc.) are rums that, guess what? are destined to be laid in cask, but which have not yet been. It is a new alcohol or a white rum – an imaginative term – before the aromas were altered by maturation in oak barrels. But above all, these rums are distilled in vats, which gives more weight to the alcohol, more power and flavor compared to the more usual white rums; a little is enough. I find citrus and fruit blends particularly well, or one of my favorites is the simplicity of Renegade – tarragon and tonic.

© Geraldine martens

-The bottle design of these five new single farm origin pre-casks follows the Renegade graphic paw – why did these pop and pastel colors interest you?

They are simply the color scheme of Grenada. Go around the island and you will see that. We wanted something that reflected the spirit joy of the Grenadians, but also a strong message: novelty, living and unusual.

Do you have in mind a passage from a literary work or a film that resonates with philosophy, with the panache of Renegade rum?

A trilogy, perhaps, with The Chocolate Factory by Willy Wonka, Our Man in Havana by Graham Greene, and Jean de Florette by Marcel Pagnol. It is interesting to see on YouTube Island in the Sun, a nice and skillfully observed story with James Mason, Joan Collins, and Harry Belafonte, which shows Grenada in 1955 and addresses many sensitive issues of the colonial era.

-As you’re opening new doors in this universe, where do you see the rum industry in the next 10 years?

Well, it’s been static for a long time. Einstein’s definition of madness – repeating the same thing over and over again expecting a different outcome – could also apply to the rum industry. We have changed the game by introducing a whole new direction, rigor and integrity. I see more distillery brands, more cane rums, a divergence between the philosophies of molasses rum and cane rum, a fork in the market between cheap and playful rum on the one hand and premium and convincing rum on the other. Finally, I think we’re going to see a much-needed evolution, a move towards greater credibility, but there’s still a long way to go.

Interview by Sebastien Girard, President of Icon-Icon

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