Haiti, for most of us that’s Barbancourt and the well-known Clairins. But there seems to be something new coming from that part of Hispanola all the time these days.
Clairin Communal Blend des quatre communes (43%): Indeed, we do like Clairin (well, most of them) but I didn’t understand the need for the first blend at least. I guess this one contains Le Rocher as well, with which I have a love-hate relationship. Nose: So salty (Vaval) but fruity (Sajous), with only some of the lacquer/ acetone of Casimir and very little of the smokey Le Rocher. This works but once again I would rather taste the individual Clairins. How about the palate then!? Very smooth, yet quite aromatic and interesting enough. I get some raspberries, salted caramel, green banana, vanilla and white chocolate. This is actually really nice and might indeed be seen as an addition to the range rather than some random product. I do like this a bit more than the World Championships and will have to give it a slightly higher grade I am afraid. Finish: Medium long with salted caramel and herbs such as dill or cola. Nice, nice. Again, I prefer Casimir and Sajous individually but this might make for an awesome mixer. (81/100)
Plantation Haiti 2010 8YO (40,15%): The rum has aged for five years on Haiti before it has been moved to France for further ageing. And while it does caontain some “dosage”, this doesn’t seem to be large nor problematic here. The only problem I have is with the distillery. The label states “Distillerie de Jeanty” and I have no idea what that is. Perhaps some tiny one man army. Anyway, the nose is “typical” Clairin, if such a thing exists. Citrus fruits, a rather unusual combination of herbs (tarragon, dill), grilled salmon and freshly squeezed cane juice are my primary associations. At the palate we encounter a pleasant mix of spices (fennel and coriander seeds) and herbs (the tarragon/ dill combination once again), jasmin petal flavoured green tea and even some vegetal notes. A rather good one I must say. My gustory senses tell me that it hasn’t been adulterated but the palate is a bit too smooth for this low abv. Probably the original abv wasn’t very high though. The finish is rather short with herbs, citrus fruits and the green tea. Plantation seems to finally understand what we want! (81/100)
Boukman Botcanical Rhum (45%): This is a so-called “Clairin trempè”, a spiced Clairin. Well, probably more of an infusion than what we typically understand under “spiced”. We’ve never done a spiced r(h)um so far but there’s always a first. Nose: Extremely herbal and full of spices but then it strucks me: Marzipan and tarragon! Oh dear, what a combination. These two are so dominant, it’s not even funny. But then again, there’s more to it. The spices include fennel and cardamom seeds, cinnamon, cumin and whatnot. Ah right, there’s of course this grassy, leaf-y side to the Clairin as we’ve had it time and again, especially with some of the Caroni-cask aged expressions. Palate: Quite similar without the pronounced marzipan, unfortunately. Almonds maybe but no marzipan. Still, there are tons of tarragon and other, more subtle herbs (rosary, thyme, oregano) and the spice mix from the nose. Then banana leafs, freshly cut grass and foul cauliflower. I didn’t expect this. Finish: Relatively short with the herbs and grassy notes. Given that this is spiced juice I won’t score it but yeah, it’s quite nice if you are into aged Clairins. (no score)
and of course we have some catching-up to do with the latter…
Clairin Ansyen Sajous 2016 1YO #CARSA4 (Daniele Biondi) (54,6%): The Clairin is 19 months old but I decided to just call that one year. That’s right! Nose: a mix of vanilla, herbs (dill!), biscuit dough and grenadine syrup. It’s a wee bit alcoholic but that’s fine. In the background I also get something close to engine oil. That has to be the Caroni barrel! Palate: Here we have the herbs again, with the dill most prominently. Next to that vanilla and vanilla sugar, grenadine, flavoured green tea, olive oil, chestnut and something weird between metallic and muddy, I cannot really name it. Finish: Rather short, herbal and extremely dry. You rarely hear me say this but I would have liked something fruitier towards the end (yeah yeah, those first world problems…). It’s an interesting aged Clairin but we’ve had better ones, especially from Sajous! Sorry Daniele! (82/100)
Clairin Ansyen Sajous 2016 1YO #CARSA1 (Angelo Canessa) (54.7%): And another one. Nose: With these Caroni cask matured Sajous it always seems as if we are giving up the nice, fruity character of the raw distillate in favour of more herbal notes. Again there’s plenty of dill, some cola, stale green tea, Indian fig, thyme and indeed quite some oak. Palate: Ah, very Caroni forward! Really dirty with engine oil, scrap metal, burnt caramel, tar, caoutchouc, orange bitters and of course the herbs from the nose. Oh this is a good one and probably the best symbiosis of Sajous and Caroni to date. I am really wondering what another three to four years could do to this… Finish: Long, dry, dirty and herbal. I’d say the Caroni influence is even more present here. I hope there are more like this one. Or put differently, let Mr. Canessa pick more barrels! (85/100)