Above: Barbancourt’s distillery
This week’s Rum Journal takes a look at the best-known rum out of Haiti, which is, in fact, a rhum.
In the world of cane spirits, the letter “h” says a lot — signifying the difference between a spirit made from fermented molasses and one from fermented sugar cane juice. (The latter tends to be made almost exclusively in the French-speaking Caribbean).
Rhum Barbancourt has been produced continuously in Haiti since 1862 (it celebrates its 150th birthday this year, as does Bacardi), with one interruption — the January 2010 earthquake which destroyed a number of barrels and halted production.
That same year, Barbancourt set up the Barbancourt Foundation, which has made it a priority to help those made homeless by the quake in the regions of Blanchard and Damiens in the northwest area of Port-au-Prince.
Each of Barbancourt’s three rhum classes (it also produces a fruit-based Pango Rhum) is aged in Limousin oak barrels, like many fine cognacs.
Rum Journal tasted the top-of-the-line Estate Reserve, which is aged for 15 years.
The Estate Reserve has an aroma of cocoa and raisins, and bears a pale golden colour. It taste has hints of orange peel, vanilla and cognac, with a slight toffee aftertaste.
While this rum has been aged for 15 years, its nature as a rhum agricole gives Barbancourt a decided crispness — giving it the refreshing nature one typically finds in a far younger rum.
But it also makes the rum’s flavour profile somewhat delicate, so we recommend drinking it neat.
Barbancourt may be in its 150th year, but it remains a classic. —CJ