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Rum Reviews

Clairin Sajous, 2015, Chelo Distillery, Saint Michel de l'Attalaye, Haiti, 51% ABV, La Maison & Velier


Part of the original trio, Clairin Sajous is named after its maker Michel Sajous, who produces the Clairin out of his small 30-hectare distillery, Chelo, in Saint-Michel de l’Attalaye, north of Port-au-Prince. St Michel is known for producing some of the highest quality Clairin in Haiti where they more uniquely use sugarcane syrup to make the white spirit. Something even more unique about Michel Sajous’ Clairin is that despite his town’s reputation, he opts to use sugarcane juice instead of syrup. 

This vintage uses the Cristalline varietal of sugar cane, which was fermented over 7-10 days using wild yeast and double distilled using a pot still. The spirit is bottled straight from the still with no aging or tinkering whatsoever.


(Image Source: The Whisky Exchange)


Color: Clear, transparent spirit.


A very dominant grassy note accompanied by a synthetic kerosene aroma that really sounds worse than it actually is. (Image Source: Live Science)


Nose: Very spirit driven, the smell of ethanol, yet surprisingly there’s hardly any alcoholic singe. Quick to arrive right after, a grassy, herbaceous note that resembles cut grass or freshly chopped dill. These two high notes are most detectable and remain most identifiable throughout the nosing.


Olive Brine, Full Works Margarita, Tomato Salsa Heaped With Cilantro (Image Source: Organic Gardener, Delish.com, Scrummy Lane)


Left to sit, more faint aromas show up, pickle water, green olive brine, you’d almost think this was a Jamaican Overproof. There’s also notes of lime zest, almost as if you were nosing a glass of Margarita, salted rim, the full works. Something a touch more savory like tomato salsa and cilantro.

Flavorful, sure. But certainly not the most complex, with a very dominant kerosene note.


 On the palate a cacophony of rich flavors, olive brine, overripe banana funk, light florals and earthy fresh soil. (Image Source: Organic Gardener, King Arthur Baking, Bustling Nest, Gardening Know How)


Palate: For something that could easily be mistaken by the eyes as water, it is surprisingly creamy and smooth in texture. It almost slides across too easily. This takes a good second to heat up, and then a bursting forth of a cacophony of notes – that same kerosene and green olive brine on the nose, a funky overripened banana, a floral geranium, an earthy, umami, white truffle (the good stuff) and some freshly toiled soil. There is no sequence, it is a whole lot of everything at once; an experience akin to watching a movie on fast-forward.


Smoked ham glides across the palate. (Image Source: Spruce Eats)


With some time, the same chaos sure, but this time with my seatbelts buckled, I dig deeper to find dustings of powdered sugar, camphor smoke, pickled vegetables and smoked ham. It’s as if the initial notes each took a half step to the left – similar, but not the same.

The missing complexity on the nose showed up on the palate, yet like a rush of people squeezing to fit the closing train door, some order would have certainly helped.


Finish: Very short and clean, more brine and kerosene, maybe some fresh soil.


 My Rating


This gets 3 hurricanes from me. A really complex and flavor bomb hurricane mind you. But it comes at you all at once and that can be much. Proceed with excitement but take your time.





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