Best white r(h)um I’ve had so far. Crazy funky stuff!
In late November 2014 I went to my very first rum tasting / Master class.
The host was none other than Luca Gargano of Velier fame.
That night we tried 10 different Velier products from Demerara leviathans, to Caroni beast and Rhum Rhum unicorns. And then there was something completely different.
3 Clairins. The Sajous, Casimir and Vaval.
And as time passed it felt like that the Clairins were what Mr. Gargano was most passionate about. He spent almost the entire allocated time talking crazy passionately about these unaged wonders fra Haiti.
Haiti is probably best know for its sole commercial rum producer: Barbancourt.
Few people know that Haiti has more than 500 small producers of Clairin as well. Clairin is very similar to rum, as it is a distilled from fermented sugar cane juice.
The end products are often bottled straight from the still and only sold locally. Often you would just drop by your local micro distillery and top off your favourite plastic jug.
Clairin is a fully organic and natural product. No tampering of any kind. Even the yeast can be wild.
And it is bottled at anything from 30% to 60% ABV.
I ended up going home from this marvelous evening with just one bottle: The Clairin Sajous. The Sajous seemed like the better choice at the time simply because I liked it better than the other two.
The Demeraras, Caronis and Rhum Rhums were all very, very good and at that point I already had several in my collection. But these mystical, unaged creatuers were the ones which caught my attention the most on that night.
So, the Sajous were bottled at 53,5% ABV and as all Clairins made on a pot still. The Sajous is double distilled by distiller Michel Sajous in the small village of Saint Michel de L’Attalaye in central Haiti. Bottled straight from the still, this has never known a cask.
It is an all natural, organic, karma fortifying, zero year old ”eau de vie”.
It comes in a very tall and slender bottle, which is hidden away inside a similarly slender card board box. The box is beautifully decorated with a painting from a famous Haitian artist.
Apart from the name and type of product, nothing is described on the box.
On the bottle however, we find a label holding all relevant information about the liquid inside.
And speaking about the liquid, we are dealing with a crystal clear drink. It is as much a white rhum as they come.
I haven’t been slapped in the face much. But the Sajous did what it could to rough me up a bit.
Massive, insanely fruity cane juice leapt at me from the glass along with a scary team of brine and wax, with an herbal edge which I have never encountered before.
It is quite transparent and not really that difficult to take apart.
But it feels balanced, adventurous, fun and extremely clean.It noses like nothing I have ever smelled before.
I’m a little bit in love with it already, but also a little scared how this wild, pure beast will treat me when unleashed.
It enters with a super funky, heavy profile and feels like it sticks to your entire mouth in a split second.
However as the initial flavours of cane juice and brine starts to cool off, you realise that is doesn’t stick at all.
The next wave of flavours consist of wax, plasticine and fresh paint. Not typically very pleasant flavours, but for some reason they fit in.
Finishing it all off is a layer of fresh leather, green asparagus, and salty liquorice.
Super pleasant despite the high proof and funky flavours.
Not as long as I would have expected, but still long enough to keep me occupied for a few minutes.
It exits with a lot of heat and it doesn’t mind taking its time to dial it down.
The funky fruity cane juice, salty liquorice and leather makes up the rearguard and follows you all the way to the bus stop.
And when you’re ready to leave and the lave flavour has faded away, your palate is clean enough to eat from (!).
There is no doubt that this is some highly pure booze.
Rating and final thoughts
This is great stuff. Funky, flavourfull, fruity, freaky, fantastic, frivolous, feisty and flaming fireball.
I am super surprised that an unaged white rhum could deliver such and intense and great experience. I expected something rough, unpolished, discomforting and hostile.
But it wasn’t not in the least possible way. It did start out by slapping me, but just to set things straight from the beginning. This is not a casual drink! Oh no sir. Not even close.
Paying only €40 for it, it is a complete steal. If these unaged pot still beasts wasn’t so challenging for me, I would definitely buy more and refrain from drinking anything else on work days.
However if pot still rums and/or unaged white rums are not your thing already, you may want to let it slide until your rum journey takes you in this direction.
According to Mr. Gargano the Sajous is so pure and so clean, that no matter how much you drink of it and how drunk it gets you, you will not experience a hangover.
I’m not going to test that theory today. For now, I’ll take his word for it.
Due to its pungency it is a little hard to love, and even though I hate the term, it may be an acquired taste for some people. Water does nothing good for it, as it mutes the flavours without bringing another dimension to the spirit.
It lacks finesse, depth and diversity to reach the top of the charts. But what are you actually allowed to expect from an unaged pot still drink?
As far as I’m concerned, this is my favourite white rum and rhum so far.
I’m no mixologist, but I can imagine that this would be incredibly awesome in cocktails as well.
Furthermore we are now up to batch 3 as far as I know, so it seems that the Clairins are here to stay.