I really enjoy rum and if you’re here reading this you surely enjoy it as well, but what I personally like about rum, besides its taste, is its story, and Saint Benevolence’s story is one that needs to be spread. Not necessarily because of its past, but for what it can achieve in the present, and obviously, future.
As we all know, or at least I hope a lot of people do, Haiti has been isolated from the rest of the world since it gained its independence from the French on the 1st of January 1804 and currently the country is in quite dire straits. That’s why it’s important to talk about Saint Benevolence, the rum that gives everything back to the people of Haiti.
Clavin Babock first visited Haiti in 1979 as a part of a construction team and he enjoyed it so much he decided to help. In 2002 he founded Living Hope Haiti with Reverand Gueilant Dorcinvil – a charity through which the two of them along with Chase Babock (Clavin’s son) help the locals with primary and prenatal care efforts, economic development, k-12 education, orphanages and more.
On that note the Saint Benevolence rum was launched in 2017 in order to keep the charity work going with all the profits made going towards them – two other charities they also work with are Innovating Health International and Ti Kay.
Saint Benevolence is made in Saint Michel l’Attalaye at the Dorcinvil Distillery, a third-generation family operation. They use the cane juice of the organic indigenous cane clones varieties Cristalline, Madame Meuze, Farine France and 24/14 which are fermented with wild yeast between 5 and 7 days. Separately they make a cane syrup that is fermented in the local method called Methode Saint Michel.
Both washes are then distilled separately in a handmade Creole pot still that is almost the same style as it was in the 18th century. After distillation the cane juice and cane syrup components are blended in a roughly 60/40 ratio and bottled at 50% ABV.
I was lucky enough to participate at a tasting with Reverand Gueilant Dorcinvil himself at Trailer Happiness, courtesy of Skylark Spirits who are responsible for distributing Saint Benevolence in Haiti, and I have to say it was really interesting and entertaining. I managed to get a taste of an early aged version of Saint Benevolence and honestly I much prefer the original. I also got myself a bottle of the unaged signed by the Reverand himself which I will promptly taste now.
So cane juice and cane syrup based, fermented in open tanks and pot still distilled. Bottled at 50% ABV without any additions.
On the nose it feels pungent yet balanced. Apple cider, butter, violette liqueur, prickly pear and gerkins. Green olives, blackberries, lime zest and a touch of smoke. It has a nice salinity to it as well. Saffron and melon too.
On the palate the smokiness really comes out. Barbeque meat, black olives, gerkins and bell peppers. Butter, grapefruit zest, cardamom and white pepper. It has a lovely savouriness to it. A touch of Worcestershire sauce too. Ripe plums, mango and unripe bananas. The finish is long with barbeque smoke and agave syrup.
This is an explosion of flavours that are a little odd, but they work together – it is a Clairin from Haiti after all, don’t expect the usual profile of a rum or rhum. I would love to try this in a Bloody Marry or a Dirty Martini or even just use it instead of tequila in drinks like Tommy’s Margarita or Paloma.
Now this is priced at around £43 (Master of Malt, The Whisky Exchange) which might be considered a bit pricey, but do not forget this is a 50% ABV rum and also it’s for a very good cause – just reminding everyone that all profits from Saint Benevolence go back to the people of Haiti via their charities, so you can put it in your Daiquiri and feel great about it.
Saint Benevolence Rum Clairin score:
Value for money: 17/15