Haiti deserves to be recognised as one of the most important countries for spirits production. There are several reasons for this, which can be traced back to the fierce sense of independence cultivated through the rich history of the island. For our purposes, we’ll look at these key points of difference through the lens of Clairin, one of Haiti’s chief advocates for traditional spirits production, which takes its name from the spirit made on the island. Clairin is Haiti’s version of Rhum Agricole. Agriculture: indigenous and non-hybridised varieties of sugar cane are grown alongside other species—such as banana and mango—to aid biodiversity, retain key nutrients in the soil, and because, quite simply, this is a traditional practice. All organic agriculture, with no pesticides at all. Sugar cane takes 18 months to mature, after which it is harvested by hand and transported to the distillery by animal. Distillation: sugar cane is pressed to extract the liquid, which runs off into a stone container. Fermentation is exclusively undertaken by wild yeasts, with no dilution. This takes 120 hours, after which the liquid is transferred to copper pot stills (a legacy of French colonialism), directly heated by flame. As soon as the spirit comes off the still, it is bottled, which must take place on Haiti.

Clairin, owned by Velier, is effectively a bottler of spirits produced by small distillers. As well as releases from individual producers, they produce a product called “Communal”, composed of liquid from the municipalities of Cavaillon, Barraderes, Pignon and St. Michel de l’Attalaye.