Clairins Ansyens: Ex-Sherry Sajous and Ex-Rum Le Rocher

At the time of writing this, my review catalog is devoid of Haitian rum. Time to fix that. 

I promise there are some unaged clairin reviews in my hopper, but I have some aged clairin samples I’ve really been wanting to try. I have only tasted unaged clairin up to this point, so I’m curious to see how these compare with their uncasked versions.

Clairin Ansyen Sajous (Cask SA17OL-5)

Up first is a rum from Distillery Chelo in Saint-Michel de l’Attalaye. It was pot distilled from fresh Cristalline cane juice using wild yeast, aged twenty-nine months in ex-Lustau Oloroso sherry casks, and bottled at 56.4%. 

On the nose, I get black tea, toffee, horseradish, raw pecans and walnuts, mushrooms, tahini, burning plastic, and some sulphur. This reminds me a little bit of the Holmes Cay Mhoba.

The palate is more lively than the nose led on. Black tea and horseradish return, now accompanied by day-old supermarket coffee, salted apple, Twizzlers, and raisins.

Though it isn’t overtly oaky, the distillate here has been transformed substantially by its relatively short aging period. To me, many of the qualities which make Sajous so great have been obscured rather than complemented by the cask influence. I do like it, but it doesn’t quite compare with the unaged version. (6/10)

Clairin Ansyen Le Rocher (Cask LR17BI-1)

This expression of Le Rocher, distilled by Bethel Romelus in Pignon, was aged twenty-one months in ex-rum casks from an undisclosed producer* and bottled at 45.4%. The aroma of this rum is so potent that I had to move it to the other side of the table when tasting the Sajous.

It smells like bubblegum, saltwater taffy, caramel, lapsang souchang, algae-infested lake water, green olives, and some sort of smoked, cured meat. The addition of water unleashed a Gouda cheese note which I can’t get out of my head.

On the palate, I get real black licorice instead of red Twizzlers, strawberry preserves, vanilla, caramel, and just a bit of that gouda cheese. The smoked meat and briny vegetable notes fuse with a new lactic cream cheese note to produce a delicious bagels and lox flavor.

This seems more Le Rocher-y than the previous rum seems Sajous-y. It’s more fruity, savory, and generally weird, and I think I prefer it for that reason. Don’t be scared away by the relatively low ABV – in this case, it just means high flavor and low heat. (7/10)

*Comparing its cask number with other cask numbers from the La Maison & Velier line reveals that this was aged in an ex-Bielle cask.