Barbancourt is a rum renowned the world over. Its story began in 1862, when Dupré Barbancourt emigrated to Haïti, and started making rum according to the method he had perfected in his hometown of Charente, France. Although the descendants of Barbancourt’s wife, Nathalie Gardère, still ercely protect the recipe today, what is known about Barbancourt is that it is made from fresh sugar cane juice instead of the sugarcane residue, molasses, used to make most rums; and furthermore, it is aged in cognac barrels, giving it a velvety texture that makes it ‘closer to a cognac’ than a rum, according to organiser of the Miami Rum Festival, Rob Burr.I tried the pineapple- and mango- avoured Pango, the 8-year old “5 star” and the 15-year old Estate Reservé, although unfortunately the latter is very di cult to nd in China, and was from Skenny’s personal collection. Pango tastes like a cocktail on it’s own, delicious, sweet, and spiced; the 8-year is rich, with more of a bite to its terri c woody avour; and the 15-year is darker, mellower, smoother. A single ice cube is recommended by Skenny, to cool down and enhance the rum’s avourings.

Now, I am not one to drink spirits straight up. Memories of cheap vodka from adolescence are enough to make me queasy, and the idea of drinking a rum on the rocks was nowhere near as appealing to my palate as it was to my imagination. It was with apprehension that I took a sip of the 8-year aged dark rum, but the sharp taste never came. Instead there was a deep, rich avour, like cinnamon or caramel, running smoothly down my throat, lling me with warmth. It was nothing short of an absolute, remarkable pleasure, and I held the glass close to my face, breathing in the smell.

Even more remarkable is Barbancourt’s business model. They do not wish to increase production, design an eye-catching bottle, or spend money on marketing. They’re not interested in the enormity
of the Chinese market; bottle
labels are still attached by hand. From November to January, when supply is limited due to domestic demand for Christmas and the Carnival, no export orders are taken whatsoever. “They’re satis ed. They don’t want to expand!” Skenny explains, with exasperation.

It doesn’t make sense –or does it? Barbancourt know their aims. As they summarise, they are the ‘rum of connoisseurs’. It would be ruined if it were a household name anywhere but on home soil (where it’s the national pride). What a refreshing kickback against capitalist logic.

We recline into soft seats. billington’s was carefully designed by the architect of the hotel beneath which it resides, and the result is an aesthetically delicious den of deep colours and soft music, and I relax and appreciate my surroundings for the rst time since I entered the bar. “That’s exactly the feeling you want from a glass of rum,” Skenny says. “For it to go through your whole body, to soothe you. We say in Haïti, this is the perfect medicine. You’re happy? Have some Barbancourt. You’re sad? Have some Barbancourt. Tired? Sick? With a lover, alone? Have a glass of Barbancourt. It makes everything just a little better.”

WHERE?

B1, J&D Hotel, 35 Zhangzhou Lu (139 2388-1567) 漳 州路35号杰克丹尼酒店B1