Clairin Sajous Rhum Blanc

Silver Rum — Haiti

Tasted December 4, 2020
4.5 out of 5 stars
Nose: Highly pungent, bright grassy herbaceous notes, spirity, new bicycle tyres, a background aroma reminiscent of mezcal. Damp rainforest ground-litter, over-ripe, almost rotting citrus fruit, gherkin juice, fresh cane juice, brine. As it rests in the glass it develops a sweeter and more waxy profile, particularly with the addition of a drop a water (although that can also bring out a papery note). A formidable nose. Palate: The arrival is initially sweet and more laid-back than the nose might make you think. It leads with herbal-sugars that again are suggestive of mezcal and it has that honeyed-asparagus note mezcal sometimes carries. However just as you think you have sussed it out this is all washed away by a wave of astringent, gripping alcohol and bittersweet herbs that comes crashing onto the palate. Terragon, sage, rosemary, rocket, pickles, ginger, white pepper, unripe banana, rotting mango, green papaya and green apple skins. After a while this onslaught subsides and another wave follows, bringing in the unmistakable white sugar and green grass flavours of cane-juice. Water significantly tames the palate by modulating the alcohol presence and increasing the foundation sugar sweetness. Finish: Long. Everything from the palate entwines and slowly diminishes until just light briny grassiness remains with an afterthought of star anise. This sits somewhere mid-way between rhum agricole blanc and white-dog, by way of mezcal. The progression on this spirit is astonishing and makes a mockery of all those other drinks where you have merely convinced yourself you tasted development. My liquor order arrived today just in time for the weekend (yay!) and it contains several bottles of interesting stuff based on sugar, this being one of the most compelling. It's essentially agricole blanc from Haiti, crafted from hand-harvested un-hybridised sugar cane grown on the 30 hectare Sajous plantation, crushed in a donkey-powered open-air pit, wild fermented and distilled on site in a tiny direct-fired pot still. It is an organic product with no additives of any kind and the production methodology and environment are very similar to that of mezcal. I wonder just how much of the mezcal note I detect comes from the wild fermentation? It would be interesting to run a chemical analysis on the congeners of both spirits as the only big difference between them (apart from the raw material, of course) is that the cane is not cooked prior to crushing, like agave hearts. This is about as close to rum moonshine as you can get. In fact most clairin is literally moonshine produced on small unregulated family stills. It is usually a single distillation run and you have to trust that the distiller was not greedy and took a wide cut, because if they did it could contain a lot of methanol. So don’t go rushing off to Haiti in search of the great micro-distillery clairin experience - many people have died or gone blind from drinking the true moonshine stuff. The only clairin I have seen available for sale here is a group of spirits marketed by Velier (including this one). The distillers they contract are well regarded and the spirit is no doubt carefully checked by Velier before sale. (I have read some vague and conflicting information that the Velier-contracted distillers do a second distillation run in a small column still to "purify" and improve the cut, but I can't verify that). Fascinating neat or over ice, but I’ve yet to try it in cocktails or mixed drinks. It could be quite versatile but I doubt you could just substitute it for white rum, the profiles are wildly different. However be warned that this is not a beginner’s spirit. If you are not partial to rhum agricole then don’t come anywhere near this. “Excellent” : 4.5 stars BTW - the @Distiller classification calls this "silver rum". No, it absolutely is not and that misleading descriptor should be changed.
100.0 AUD per Bottle
  • ContemplativeFox
    December 11, 2020

    There used to be a "flag" button in the app to call out misclassified spirits. It keeps disappearing and reappearing for some reason.