Archive for October, 2008

Rhum Barbancourt Distillery Visit

Saturday, October 25th, 2008


Barbancourt is an interesting distillery. Calling the House of Barbanourt eccentric would be a stretch, but it is definitely an anomaly in the rum world. Standing out as it does from the pack, Barbancourt attracts more than its share of controversy. While few deny that Barbancourt produces delicious and quality rums, some question the raw materials used.

The marketing blurb goes that Barbancourt distills exclusively from fermented fresh sugar cane juice, following the seasonal rhythms of the sugar cane harvest to produce a Haitian version of Martinique’s famous agricole rums. However, some say Barbancourt takes a less discriminating approach, feeding its fermenting vessels and stills with sugar syrup and molasses during the seasons when fresh sugar cane juice is unavailable, producing a delicious but odd hybrid that is quite unlike the rums of Martinique. Through visiting the distillery I hoped to learn about how Barbancourt is made, what makes it unique, and where it fits in comparison to other rums.


Barbancourt Rum, Jean Barbancourt Liqueurs, and Berling Rum: Sorting out a Haitian Confusion

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

In Haiti I was surprised to find all sorts of obscure products bearing the Barbancourt name.  Besides the well known Barbancourt rums there was a comprehensive range of Barbancourt liqueurs, and a rum called Berling, also produced by Barbancourt.  In fact, most of these ‘Barbancourt’ products have nothing to do with the internationally famous Rhum Barbancourt.  Haiti has two rum and spirits producers, both legitimately using the Barbancourt name.


Grand Marnier Oranges and the Haitian Connection

Saturday, October 18th, 2008


Who knew that Grand Marnier oranges came from Haiti? I sometimes worry about my level of obscure booze related knowledge, but until I visited Cap-Haitien I had no idea Haiti was the leading source of fine orange flavors in French liqueurs. Grand Marnier, Cointreau and Marie Brizard all rely on Haiti for their bitter orange needs.


Barbancourt Rum Tasting

Thursday, October 16th, 2008


Barbancourt in a coconut on the beach, an excellent reason to visit Haiti.

Strangely though, I only tried Barbancourt once before visiting Haiti*. I first tasted Barbancourt while in Cambodia, a trip on which I seem to have tried a lot of interesting products. For a small and poor country Cambodia has a surprisingly good selection of imported booze. This must say something about the type of foreigner Cambodia attracts. In any case, that Cambodian taste of Barbancourt made a big impression. I do not recall which of the Barbancourt products it was (probably the 5 Star), but it tasted unlike any other rum I had tried.

On my trip to Haiti I wanted to see what Barbancourt products were available there, which ones were popular, and how the locals drank their rum. I also wanted to visit the Barbancourt distillery and learn more about how Barbancourt rum is produced. I will write about the Barbancourt distillery later. For now lets just look at the rum.


Bermudez Rum Hits the US?

Thursday, October 16th, 2008

I meant to post this weeks ago. . .

While in the Dominican Republic I spotted a magazine article saying that Bermudez rums were in the process of being launched in the United States for the first time.  The Bermudez rums are pretty good.  The Bermudez Aniversario 1852 ended up being the bottle I took out of the country with me.  Yes, I even picked it over the Brugal Extra Viejo!

I have no idea if Bermudez will be made available throughout the whole of the United States.  The article only mentions North Carolina.  What do I know anyway?  Perhaps Bermudez has been available in the U.S. for years and a new distributor is simply creating some publicity for themselves?

However, just in case there is somebody in the United States who read about Bermudez rum on this blog, wants Bermudez rum,  and cannot find Bermudez rum, here are the contact details of the importer:

C&R Imports

(919) 272-4165

Maybe somebody can import this stuff to New Zealand?

What is Clairin from Haiti? And is it going to make a great drink?

Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

When the world thinks of Haitian rum it generally thinks of Barbancourt, an exceptional product compared by some with the finest cognac. Barbancourt is universally well received and can hold up its head in the finest of company. Few care to know Clairin, Haiti’s ‘other drink’, Barbancourt’s rustic and alcoholic cousin, a relative frequently found incoherent and exhibiting delirium tremens.

While traveling in Haiti I made an effort to get to know Clairin. It was no easy task. Requests for information were often met with nonsensical babbling, contradictory answers, and invitations to have a swig of something horrible. Only occasionally was I rewarded. At the end of it all I was left thinking Clairin is probably a waste of time. I would like to be proved wrong, but for now that is how I see it.


Mixology Monday XXXII: Guilty Pleasures

Wednesday, October 15th, 2008


I have been traveling around too much to be in Mixology Monday mode recently.  Unfortunately I missed the last one on 19th Century cocktails.  How did I manage to miss that?  It sounded great.  Ahh. . .the travails of travel.

Anyway, this time round the theme is Guilty Pleasures, hosted by Two at the Most.  The main idea behind the theme seems to be ‘comfort cocktails’, similar to ‘comfort food’. There is also a suggestion that it could include drinks that appeal a poorly educated palate.  Hmm. . .

Forgive me if I randomly muse rather than picking a single drink.

OK, what I’m really going to do is smack you in the face with a Bunnyhug.  However, I’ll soften the blow by first musing on cream, creme de menthe, and other inoffensive things. (more…)

From the Dominican Republic to Haiti: or bussing into the heart of darkness

Monday, October 13th, 2008


An ominous darkness descends on Port-au-Prince

Deciding to visit Haiti

When I picked the Dominican Republic for a holiday I figured one of the benefits would be hopping across the border to Haiti, making it a sort of two-for-one Caribbean travel destination.  Haiti has always interested me.  Haiti was the setting for “The Comedians”, one of my favorite novels by Graham Greene, one of my favorite writers.  Haiti is the only nation to have been formed through a slave rebellion.  The slaves quite reasonably turned the call of liberté, equalité, fraternité against their French masters.  In a typical example of hypocrisy it was years before the United States, itself founded on an anti-colonial rebellion, extended diplomatic recognition to Haiti.  Haiti is also home to the Isla de Tortuga, once the most notorious pirate nest in the Caribbean.  Then you have the imposing Citadelle, quite possibly the ultimate Caribbean fortress.  Add a sprinkling of voodoo and the mix is becoming most impressive.  To that impressive mix you can start adding drinks-related attractions, such as Haiti being the home of Barbancourt rum, the bitter oranges used to produce Grand Marnier, and the famous bar at the Hotel Oloffson – once known as the Greenwich Village of the Caribbean.  New Orleans’ Peychaud’s Bitters also traces its roots to Haiti, with Antoine Peychaud having been born in Cap-Haitien. There are even vague rumors of an ancestor of mine having been born in Haiti.  In other words, plenty of reasons to visit. (more…)

Santo Domingo Photos

Saturday, October 4th, 2008

Some photos of Santo Domingo. . .


The presidential palace looks rather like the White House.


Sosua and Puerto Plata Pictures

Friday, October 3rd, 2008

Below are some photos from Sosua and Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic. . .


Sign leading to Sosua beach.  Many of the road signs in the Dominican Republic are sponsored by Brugal rum.