The Barrel Sample: Clairin Sajous 2015

Clairin Sajous is made at Chelo Distillery in Haiti by Michel Sajous. Luca Gargano of Velier is responsible for distributing various Clairins outside Haiti.

Clairin Sajous uses sugar cane from the estate, the base material being cane juice. Fermented with wild yeast for around 7-10 days, pot still distilled and bottled without dilution – absolutely nothing added. The 2015 vintage clocks at 51% ABV.

On the nose it feels raw and savoury. Sourdough, gasoline, glue and unripe stone fruits. Grapefruit and lemon zests with a nice grassy layer. Coriander, prunes, unripe bananas, camomile tea and a touch of anise. Intense and inviting!

On the palate the intensity grows. Eastern European prune distillate (palinca), sugar cane juice, green chilli, bell peppers and tomatoes. Even though I had some whisky before, tasting this made me low-key shudder, and not in a bad way. Maraschino liqueur, orange zest, white pepper, nail varnish with hints of dry figs. The finish is long with citric acid and sultanas.

Honestly if you’re an Eastern European and you grew up with palinca (palinka), you’d find a very similar profile in the Sajous, but more complex – it’s raw and intense. This batch is not available anymore, but it was around £53 when it was released, which might look like a bit much, but it’s quite niche and unique. Think agricole rhum without the manners.

Clairin Sajous 2015 score:
Flavour/taste: 52/70
Value for money: 14/15
Transparency/purity: 15/15
Overall: 71/100


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