REASONS TO GO
FORGET THE SOUTHERN WHITE BEACHES— HEAD TO THE LUSH NORTH-ATLANTIC
Around one of the numerous bends in the road connecting Gros-Morne to Saint-Joseph lies a narrow, warped gravel path, furrowed by heavy rains and lined with immense royal palms.
You have arrived at Habitation Saint- Étienne.
Red colors everything here:
the manor house and its outbuildings;
the bricks lining the enormous windows in the former distillery;
the flowering red alpinias in the gardens;
the earth that bore the first stalks of sugar cane.
A CLASSIC STORY: FROM SUGAR REFINERY TO DISTILLERY
Around 1820, Théobald Monguy, a trader based in Saint-Pierre, purchased at auction the La Maugée plantation, whose property extends over 400 hectares between the cities of Gros-Morne and Saint-Joseph.
Monguy renamed it Saint-Étienne, and the plantation later became a distillery when Amédée Aubéry bought it in 1882. He used the Lézarde River, which crosses the estate, to construct a water mill and built train tracks to enable the transport of sugar cane.
He also built the factory with its immense arched windows. His son-in-law, André Simmonet, took over in 1909. The 1950s to 1970s saw the distillery prosper: it was one of the largest agricultural rum producers on the island, with an annual production that was known to reach 1.5 million liters.
The 1980s brought their share of challenges, and the damage caused by hurricanes David and Allen, in 1979 and 1980, did not help matters. In 1984, Saint-Étienne was purchased by André Dormoy, owner of the La Favorite property.
The distillery definitively ceased operations in 1988.
“CULTIVATE ORIGINALITY, DISTILLING THE ORIGIN” :
SAINT-ÉTIENNE BECOMES HABITATION SAINT-ETIENNE (HSE)
In 1994, José Hayot took over the farm distillery and Saint-Étienne was given new life with a complete restoration. Cellars and stock were rebuilt to relaunch sales of the brand. However, the distillery was moved to the Simon factory. Only bottling and aging are still carried out on-site.
As for the brand, it was given a complete makeover: the bottle was given a new shape and the smiling, but outdated, image of a Creole woman in traditional garb was retired in favor of the elegant HSE stamp used to mark the barrels.