Learning about Haitian Rum: Clairin
For my last post for this week’s Spirits Week, I’m going to focus on clairin, which is Haitian rum in the simplest terms. This spirit of Haiti has not been previously exported to the US until now*. I tried three recently at a tasting at Dama, the new Latin inspired restaurant in Downtown Los Angeles.
The three clairins are imported by La Maison and Velier. You may know of the French company, Maison du Whisky and the Italian company Velier. The two have combined forces and are known as La Maison and Velier which imports clairin, rum, cognac and mezcal.
A fourth clairin from LM&V will also be available soon.
Clairin Sajous – I don’t know what I expected clairin to be like but once I tried it, I thought- “oh, THIS is rum!”
Clairin Vaval – this one was my favorite. When I tasted it, I said, “this is what I think rum should be.”
Clairin Casimir – this one was a lot drier and funkier than I expected, particularly after the Vaval.
Name one person that doesn’t like pina coladas. Okay, well, the suck. But they wouldn’t be such a bad person if they had one of Dama’s pina coladas. And this one made with Casmir was fantastic.
Clairin pina colada – Clairin Casmir, coconut, pineapple
I like the Nacional drink as it’s tropical without being a too sweet rum drink. The Sajous worked nicely and brought out a vegetal-ness to this cocktail.
Clairin Nacional – Clairin Sajous, pineapple, lime
At the clairin tasting, we also got to try various rums including this Caroni. Caroni is from Trinidad. They were generally sold as blends before but Velier was able to buy barrels from the now defunct distillery. They are being released as single barrel rums now and very much sought after.
This rum is from Worthy Park in Jamaica. When it was bottled by Velier, they didn’t want to be known acknowledged and so it’s named Forsyths WP to acknowledge the forsyths still at the distillery. In future releases, they will go with the full name Forsyths Worthy Park.
We also tried the four from the new LM & V Transcontinental rum line. These include rums from Panama, Jamaica, Guadeloupe and Fiji. And if you noticed the WP on the Jamaican bottle, yes, it’s from Worthy Park.
Besides the Maison and Velier clairins, there is a spiced clairin on the market called Boukman Rhum. I haven’t tried it yet but hope to do so soon. Also a little birdie told me another rum is coming to the US, Saint Benevolence Rum. While the current bottles are not Haitian in origin, proceeds benefits Haiti. Saint Benevolence plans on distilling and aging their own clairin/ rum as they sell their sourced rum.
For more info on clairin, check out my buddy Inu A Kena’s blog post.
* Haiti’s most famous rum export is Rhum Barbancourt. While clairin is essentially Haitian rum and there are hundreds of clairin distilleries which can be little more than one or two distillers producing for their families and friends, nothing has been marketed as clairin in the US until now.
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