For Rum's Sake: Sensational Clairin from Haiti

3/29/18 -

Clairin Rum Haiti

I never wanted to be a pirate, but when I was younger I developed a keen interest in Italian cinema. I remember sitting cross-legged on my parent's carpet watching Fellini's Amarcord, feeling entirely awe-struck, somewhat overwhelmed, like I was discovering a new language for the first time. Soon thereafter, I was hooked, devouring every film I could get my hands on by the likes of Antonioni, Passolini, Visconti, Bertolucci, and others. But that first cut will always remain the deepest. In much the same way, I stumbled upon the Velier clairin bottlings by chance, on a visit to a friend's store in Greenpoint. There was a glint in his eye that night, a sign that he'd found something obscure and wonderful, and from the first sip I was hooked. Tasting these unique spirits I wasn't thinking of beaches, palm trees, tiki cocktails, or any of the usual frills associated with rum. I was taken back to that first viewing of Amarcord, to the excitement of discovering something precious, emotion-provoking and mind-blowing.

Fermentations RUm

Rum is a muddled category. Encompassing everything from the mass-produced, multi-column distilled, vodka-esque expressions that are ubiquitous in almost every corner of the world, to some of the most expressive and terroir-driven spirits our eager palates have come across. Apart from the AOC Rhum Agricole on Martinique, there is a staggering lack of regulation. False age statements are prevalent, as is the use of the term 'solera' to simply refer to a blended product. Many producers augment their soulless and anemic distillates with additions of sugar (in terms of g/L, some are closer to liqueurs), caramel, and other flavorings. The Swedish government is a great source for finding out exactly what's being added to your spirits as they require all producers to supply that information, and then do further verification tests. In their quest for transparency I've known some rum enthusiasts to purchase density measurement kits. And while we don't usually have that kind of time here at Chambers Street, our hunt for beautiful and unadulterated spirits is equally passionate.

Clairin feels like a whole different category; it's almost a disservice to simply call it rum. Made with non-hybrid (an incredibly rare occurance), indigenous sugarcane varieties grown with no chemical interference, this is a true agricultural product. The diversity shown by the three expressions that we currently offer is astounding, each one a result of the unique terroirs and microclimates of Haiti, as well as the choices (and in some cases necessities) of these three distillers. We hope you'll share in our excitement in discovering what feels like a new frontier in rum. We'd also like to thank the fine folks at Velier (one of Italy's premier spirits importers) for finally bringing these to our shores.

Also offered is the first US release of Velier's Caroni rum, a beautiful 2000 vintage. For rum fans who previously only saw these bottles online or smuggled in suitcases from Europe, this is big news indeed.

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