Clairin Vaval...

Clairin Vaval Single Estate Haitian Rum (48.8%): Posting the review for Probitas at the weekend reminded me three Clairin samples I was sitting on for almost two years. It took me a while to dig into my samples box and find them but here they are on my desk now. First of all I would like to summarize quickly what Clairin is... In its simplest form it is actually rum produced in Haiti but of course there is more to that. Although there are hundreds of micro-distilleries spread all over the country producing Clairin they do follow some common practices such as: Using 100% organically farmed indigenous sugarcane varieties, allowing the mash ferment in wooden washbacks naturally without any added yeast and sometimes as long as 120 hours, using relatively short and direct fired column stills and in the end bottling the distillate completely unadulterated without any sugar, coloring and/or other additives.

The first sample I'll be pouring is distilled at The Arawaks Distillery in the village of Cavailon situated in the southern part of Haiti owned and operated by Fritz Vaval. The sugarcane used is sourced from their own land and then fermented in open top washbacks simply by allowing the wilds yeast to do their job.

Color: Clear with a ring of minuscule teardrops around the glass refusing to roll down as legs.

Nose: Highly aromatic olive oil, overripe mangos and plantains. Dry farm soil, fresh sage leaves and olive paste. It's earthy, vegetal and oily. Preserved grape leaves, salted almonds and seaweed.

Palate: Thick and salty... Vegetable stew, dandelion leaves and wild mushrooms. Dill, olive brine and freshly sliced fennel bulbs. Underripe Concorde pears, grape seeds and mineral water. Juniper berries, ground coriander and very faint campfire smoke...

Finish: Medium with grapefruit peel, white pepper and touch of char.

Overall: This is a great start... Loved it... It is such a unique spirit indeed: Kinda dirty in a good way, earthy and tastes almost like pickled. I know it's such a cliche to say that Clairin is the Mezcal of the rum world but this one actually even tastes like one to be honest. It surely made me excited to taste the other two...

Price: $40