Distillery Patrick St. Surin
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Country of Origin: Haiti
Location: Carrefour Des Pères, Haiti
People: Patrick St. Surin, Owner & Distiller
|Distillery Patrick St. Surin Clairin Milot (110 proof)
We are proud to introduce Patrick St. Surin who is making clairin (the local rum of Haiti) in the most thoughtful way possible: harvesting his own sugarcane or using sugarcane syrup made in-house or nearby, native yeast fermentation, and distilling in small, alembic stills. In essence, clairin is the most compelling argument for the expression of terroir in spirits, and it achieves this in the most visceral way.
Patrick St. Surin lives in Carrefour Des Pères, which is a small commune about a thirty-minute drive outside of Cap-Haïtien. Here the plateau that forms much of the middle of the island gives way to plains that reach the Caribbean Sea to the north. He farms just over ten hectares of sugarcane, and has been distilling since 2012, when he decided against his father’s will to stay in his hometown to launch his business. As Patrick puts it, he did not view success as getting out of Haiti. Instead, he saw the opportunity to have success on his own terms.
The fields surrounding the distillery are pieced together with the aforementioned ten hectares worth of sugarcane planted with local cane varieties like Medialande, Pete Coca, and Zariete—all grown by Patrick. In addition to this, there are a few hectares farmed by neighbors who allow him to harvest the cane in exchange for allowing their cattle and goat to graze freely around the property. Once the cane is harvested—the months considered to produce the highest quality sugarcane are February-March and July-August—it is carted back to the distillery by donkey and immediately crushed.
The juice is then poured manually into large open top fermentors called pièces where a small addition of sugarcane syrup is added in the local method. Fermentation occurs naturally, usually taking 10-15 days to complete. Then the fermented cane juice is loaded into a small pot still and is distilled twice, rested, and then bottled by hand at full proof. The result is one of the purest expressions of sugarcane that we have ever tasted.
Chicago Tribune: How the Haitian Spirit Clairin is more like Mezcal than Rum
Liquor.com: Everything You Need to Know About Clairin, Haiti's Traditional Rum