ISAUTIER - SOPAVI - Reunion Island Punches and Rums|
Distillerie Riviere du Mat (SORACO), Sainte-Suzanne|
GIE Rhums Reunion, Saint Denis
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Originally from St Dalmas, a village overlooking Nice, the Isautiers were living in Nogent when Charles was born on the 3lst of July 1811. The story goes that, at the age of 21 Charles and his brother Louis embarked for the Isle of Bourbon where their great-uncle, an ex-Navy pharmacist, and their cousins were already living. When they reached their destination, around 1833, the island economical context gave them perhaps the idea or the opportunity of a succestul project : in Bourbon, sugar cane experienced tremendous expansion and thanks to the new technical methods the island entered the industrial era.
The two brothers settled in the district of St Joseph in the southern part of the island and bought land ; in 1840 Charles married Antoinette Orré, a rich Landowner’s daughter. So, in the sugar effervescence which prevailed in those days, the husband and wife set up their own factory in 1845. Then, Charles and his brother created Reunion’s first large scale industrial distillery.
After her husband’s death, Antoinette took over the reins of the distillery with the aid of her sons. An effective business-woman, she brought the rum marketed under the label “Veuve Isautier & Fils” to an international acknowledgement as the medals won in Paris, Amsterdam, Antwerp and Moscow attest. Under her leadership Isautier Rum conditioned in sandstone bottles became a reference value, a charm ambassadeur for the Island of Reunion.
From 1910 onwards, the destiny of the company was concentrated round a single man: Alfred Isautier, Antoinette’s grandson. When he bought out his brothers’ shares he founded The Isautier Company. Under his leadership the Distillery was modernized, the range was expanded especially with the punch recipes. He created a registered triangular shaped glass bottle bearing his seal, introduced the rising main technology and the bagasse fired heating. As the owner of cellars in the Halles of Paris and of another distillery in Madagascar, he organized the distribution of his products all around the world.
Around 1935, his son Paul-Alfred, known as Ti’Fred, inserted the Distillery in the sugar rum era, a rum elaborated from molasses. Appointed senator, he gave up his responsibilities to his brother Charles. For The Isautier Company it was the start of a massive diversification of their activities, made possible by the virtually total lack of industry in the Reunion of that period : oil works, flour milling, confectionery, chocolate factory, wooden furniture, wax and also the building of schools and hospitals... Altogether, in the nineteen sixties, Charles Isautier, who was also Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, created more than sixty various companies.
The opening up of the island and the competition of products from mainland France got the better of his initiatives. At the beginning of the nineties the production recentered round rum, the capital was open to the CILAM and SOPAVI for the making of punches, “rhums arrangés” and liqueurs. Eversince the beginning, the spirit of venture, the concern for independence, the refusal of concessions stand out as landmarks in the history of The Isautiers. Demands which make The Isautier Distillery the only one in Reunion which is not linked to any sugar mill. The recipes perfected by Charles Isautier and his successors ensure the quality of all their products for the greatest pleasure of rum lovers under all its guises. A quality which owes nothing to fashion but everything to the respect of tradition, so dear to the hearts of a great family.
In 1972 was established GIE Rhums Reunion. Today consists of
- distillery Riviere du Mat
- distillery Isautier
- distillery Savanna
To modernise the traditional rum distribution system dating back to the 1920s, an organisation of Reunion Island rum producers was founded: GIE Rhum (an economic interest group for marketing Reunion Island rums and spirits); it was renamed Rums Reunion in 2000.
The island's three distilleries initiated this group:
- Distilelie du Mat in Saint-Benoit.
- Distilelie de Savanna in Saint-Andre.
- Distilelie Isautier in Saint-Pierre.