Clairin is Haitiâ€™s best kept secret. Found in its most remote parts and drunk by its people, these are highly artisanal eaux-de-vie similar to white agricole rhums.
While these bottlings are sourced from different distilleries, they all have one aspect in common: pure, well-balanced rums that evolve in the glass. Although production may be labour intensive, itâ€™s a labour of love.
These rums are produced using native varieties of sugarcane grown without the use of herbicides or pesticides, which are cut by hand and transported by ox carts or donkeys to the distilleries. The majority of the producers use wild fermentations and operate a batch pot still with 5-6 plate column set up, with the Clairin reaching the receiver between 45-56% abv. Whilst extremely basic, the distilleries are beautifully simple, and produce some stunning liquid.
Faubert Casimir continues the work his father started in 1979 and is now considered the best distiller in the region of BarradÃ¨res. Faubert cultivates 50 hectares of non-hybrid Hawaii Blanche sugar cane. His plantation is intercropped with bananas, palms and lime. Only the fully ripe rods are collected, this way the field is never left devoid of vegetation.
What is unique to Casimir and other distillers in the area, is to add some herbs or vegetable matter to pure cane juice during fermentation in order to enhance the flavours. Faubert adds leaves of citronella, cinnamon, and in some batches, ginger.
Nose: A strong and pungent nose, it leaps out of the glass at you - rich fruit and herbs with a pinch of salt - tarragon, mint, banana skins, and overripe apples and pears. Beneath the fruit itâ€™s rich and oily, with grassy olive oil and perfectly ripe bananas.
Palate: Sharper than expected from the nose, with Granny Smith apples, lime zest and bitter pith exploding on the palate. Behind that lies lots of herbal bitterness and a balancing fruity sweetness - pine needles and green leaves with a background of fruit chews, boiled sweets and roasted bananas.
Finish: Long, with green leaves fading to sweet, overripe fruit and soft spice.