A Clairin Tasting

Clairin.

A distilled spirit made in Haiti from wild strains of freshly cut sugarcane, fermented in the open with naturally occurring yeasts, single distilled in direct fired alembic pots & enjoyed locally unaged, unfiltered & cask strength.

There are over 500 Clairin distilleries in Haiti – a reminder of the days every town in Ireland had their own Poitín producer.

The opportunity to try out such spirits was too good to miss – so courtesy Irish Spirits Training – I signed up for a Zoom tasting.

2 (1 of 1)-2
Exploring Clairin c/othewhiskeynut

Presented before us were 9 samples.

6 were Clairin sourced directly from Haiti.

4 were  ‘single estate’  Clairin – although there are no rules or classifications in the Clairin world – 2 were blends of those ‘singles’.

The other 3 – a rhum agricole, a big brand rum & an aged rum – were provided for comparison.

After a historical synopsis of how Haiti came to be & is today – we progressed to the tasting.

The big brand rum was a clear, soft & relatively flavorless spirit.

The rhum agricole possessed far more character & appeal.

The 1st Clairin I tasted – Clairin Communal – a blend of the 4 ‘singles’ – burst through with heaps of fresh fruity funk, an oily & rich mouthfeel combined with varied herbaceous & floral notes dancing away on a long finish.

Clairin Communal
Clairin Communal c/oSpecialityBrands

In a world that is often constricted by uniformity, conformity & consistency together with financial pressures dictating efficiences of scale & production – usually at the expense of taste – here was a liquid unimpaired by such constraints – and it delighted my palate.

The 4 constituent ‘singles’ were as follows,

Clairin Sajous
Clairin Sajous c/oSpecialityBrands

Clairin Sajous had a sweet funky nose, quite a clear, clean taste with a powerfully dry prickliness on the rear.

Clairin Vaval
Clairin Vaval c/oSpecialityBrands

Clairin Vaval wasn’t as funky, had a more umami feel to it’s rich flavours, an oily mouthfeel & prickly spices on the finish.

Clairin Le Rocher
Clairin Le Rocher c/oSpecialityBrands

Clairin Le Rocher dialed up the funk. Using a ‘dunder syrup’ – not unlike Jamaican rum – Le Rocher differed both in taste & style – to satisfying results!

Clairin Casimir
Clairin Casimir c/oSpecialityBrands

Clairin Casimir was my favourite. The funkiness was soft on the nose, well balanced on the palate by a fruity sweetness & a lovely long finish.

It’s another case of ‘ should’ve bought the large bottle’ as experienced with La Penca Mezcal!

The evening finished with the aged rum.

Hampden 46
Hampden Estate 46 c/oSpecialityBrands

Being Jamaican, the funk was evident, yet complimented by an oakiness from the barrel ageing similar to whiskey.

Clairin – despite being unaged spirit – is bursting with bold flavours – many unfamiliar – which are simply a joy to experience.

Well worth exploring!

Sláinte

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3 thoughts on “A Clairin Tasting”

  1. Thanks for this interesting read. I have never heard of Clairin before. So it was really interesting to close that gap (at least theoretically). Let’s see if I can gety hands on a sample or two to actually try it, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the feedback.
      I’d only read about Clairin in a rum book so was keen to try it out when the chance arose.
      It’s like travelling back in time to a fuller flavoured & bolder spirit.
      There are a number of suppliers on the market. Whisky Exchange & Maison Du Whisky seem to list a few.
      I’d be interested to hear how you experienced them if you managed to get some.

      Liked by 1 person

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