Tag Archives: Haiti

Bristol Spirits, Rare Old Rum Virtual Tasting, Celtic Whiskey Bar & Larder

If there’s one thing this fabulous rum tasting confirmed to me – it’s the kind of rum I’m after.

Laid out before us were 5 excellent rums from independent bottlers Bristol Spirits,

Haiti Rum c/oCelticWhiskeyShop

Bristol Haiti 2004, 43%,

Nicaragua Rum c/oCelticWhiskeyShop

Bristol Nicaragua 1999, 43%,

Guyana Rum c/oCelticWhiskeyShop

Bristol Diamond Distillery, Guyana 2003, 43%,

Heytesbury Rum c/oCelticWhiskeyShop

Heytesbury Demerara, 46% &

Trinidad Rum c/oCelticWhiskeyShop

Bristol Caroni VSOC, 10 Year Old, 40%.

Bristol’s managing director John Barrett eloquently led us through the tasting regaling us with tales of his years in the rum trade.

Such a congenial host!

But something struck me during the event – it was an exploration of wood maturation!

The length of time spent in the barrel, the type of wood used & even where the casks are stored all make a difference – and the results before us could be enjoyably discerned.

But my attraction to rum is more about the influence of distillation on the ingredients used – sugarcane juice or molasses.

So my pick of the day was Haiti 2004.

To begin with it uses sugarcane juice – which offers a far more pungent & vegetal experience.

It’s also been aged in well used ex- bourbon casks – so the wood influence was minimal.

Essentially what I’m after in a rum is something different to whiskey & the Haiti 2004 provided that.

Barley may need years in wood to shine, but sugarcane positively sparkles in it’s unaged form.

I think tonight’s tasting just confirmed that for me.


All bottle images courtesy Celtic Whiskey Shop – where the rums are available.


Rum, The Epic Story Of The Drink That Conquered The World, Charles A Coulombe

Rum – the spirit that spanned the globe.

The depth, spread, longevity & diversity of rum through all it’s manifestations is chronicled in this entertaining book – along with cocktail recipes if you wish to indulge.

A book on Rum & a bottle of Rum c/othewhiskeynut

From the days of slavery, pirates & colonial might – to the globalization of rum brands today – and all points in between.

Why Cuban rum is not available in the US to how Haiti is still an undeveloped nation.

Clairin to CachaçaDemerara to dunder – it’s in here – along with an intriguing Newfoundland variation – Screech.

Politics, plunder, prohibition & popular music – rum has been central to them all.

Read all about Rum c/othewhiskeynut

Pour yourself a glass, sit down & enjoy the story.


A Clairin Tasting


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!


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