News / Americas

    Haiti's Iconic Rum Maker Back in Production

    Barbabcourt Rum
    Barbabcourt Rum

    Multimedia

    Jeff Swicord

    One of Haiti's most well known exports and a symbol of national pride is back in business.  Barbancourt's rum was first distilled in Port-au-Prince in the 1860s by Dupre Barbancourt, a French cognac maker.  The company maintained production through Haiti's turmoil of the last century-and-a-half, but January's earthquake was devastating. The factory sustained extensive damage.  After several months of repairs, Haiti's prized rum is back in production.  

    Thierry Gardere is the fourth generation owner and manager of the Rhum Barbancourt factory in Port-au-Prince.  Barbancourt is considered one of the finest rums in the world.  The company has survived dictators and hurricanes.  But, it was the earthquake last January that brought production to a halt.

    The earthquake sent large fermenting vats and 100-gallon casks of rum, some aged 15 years, crashing to the floor.

    "The top of them fell down," recalled Gardere.  "That is one that was outside that we are trying to recuperate, to repair also.  And now there are almost four so, things are coming back, slowly but things are coming back."

    Rum spilled everywhere.

    "The rum is alcohol, it killed the grass," he added.

    Gardere estimates losses at close to $4 million, about a third of his yearly sales.  

    "We have about 400 small farms; small farms who sell sugar cane," he noted.

    Barbancourt rum is made solely from sugarcane, not molasses.  In 1862, Founder Dupre Barbancourt developed a recipe using a distillation process similar to cognac. He then aged his rum in fine oak casks from France.  

    Gardere ordered new casks from Europe to replace those damaged by the earthquake.

    "We are preparing them and testing them with water.  Then we are going to put them back on the shelf again and fill them with rum," he said.

    Barbancourt produces more than 300,000 cases of rum a year.  About 20 percent is exported to the U.S.  

    Gardere says it will take at least four years to recoup his losses, but he is quick to point out that Barbancourt lost more than just business in the earthquake.

    "We lost two or more employees who died in their houses.  And a lot have lost families, sons, children or parents.  And I must say that 40 percent of our employees lost their house," he said.

    The Barbancourt Foundation, which funds non-profit groups, has also suffered.  The foundation has worked in the Croix des Missions neighborhood that surrounds the factory.  

    The foundation put in this basketball court and solar array for electricity.  And a well for water.  After the quake, neighbors took over the company soccer field.  Jean-Marc Clairemont oversees the sports facility. He called Gardere.

    "The field belonged to the Barbancourt Foundation," said Clairemont.  "And after the quake, I was the one who went to him and told him that people were taking over the field.  He didn't do anything.  He called some friends to ask for help in finding them some tents."

    There are now 2,000 people living here.  The foundation pays for 24-hour security.  Mauril Desir, who lost her home, is grateful.

    "Mr. Gardere did a lot of good things for us.  He allowed us to stay here and provided security for us so that we can sleep in peace without worry," she said.

    Gardere says it may take four years for production to get back to pre-earthquake levels.

    "Some of them are very aged rum.  It will take time to be back with them.  Some are 15 years old and three years old," Gardere explained.

    Barbancourt is small compared to large rum manufacturers like Bacardi, but the award-winning spirit has an international circle of loyal fans.

    You May Like

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora

    More Americas News

    Venezuelan President Raises Minimum Wage

    President Nicolas Maduro's announcement of a 30 percent increase in minimum wage comes as country is experiencing rampant inflation and economic stagnation

    Rescue Operation Brings Circus Lions from Peru to S. Africa

    Animal rights group rescued more than 30 lions from abuse at circuses in Peru and Colombia, flew them to South Africa Friday in what it called largest-ever airlift of lions

    Venezuela's Top Beer Maker Halts Output in Dispute with Government

    President threatened earlier in week to seize any plants halted by private companies and hand them over to workers

    US Reports Its First Zika-Related Death

    Puerto Rican man in his 70s died from internal bleeding related to rare immune reaction to Zika virus infection in February

    Rio Olympic Flame Visits UN Office in Geneva

    Flame, which was lit in Greece last week, was brought to UN for first time before it heads to Brazil for torch relay ahead of opening ceremony in Rio on Aug. 5

    Britain Foreign Secretary Visits Cuba for First Time in Nearly 60 Years

    Philip Hammond signed several cooperation agreements on energy, education and financial services