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The clairin properly said is a brandy, a local product made in Haiti. The drink is made with sugar caneby using traditional methods; these methods date from the colonial era.
The distillation process to obtain it is the same as the rum’s, that is why the two drinks have a certain resemblance. However, the clairin does not go through the refining process. Refining is what differentiates the types of alcohol produced by fermentation.
In general, the clairin is wet, it means that a certain amount of water is added to reduce the degree of alcohol.
According to many sources, there are more than 500 clairin distilleries in Haiti. In popular language, distilleries are also called guildives. It is possible to visit some of them in the northern department and even taste the final product. These distilleries are a pillar for the economy of the northern region, which explains the great popularity of the drink not only in the north, but throughout the country.
This is somehow why the clairin is to Haiti what the maple syrup is to Quebec.
In 2012, Patrick St-Cirin took over the family business in Milot, a city located south of Cap-Haitien. The company will soon be categorized economuseum; that is to say visitors will be able to attend a workshop during which a craftsman will explain to them his job which is traditional, but also part of the modernity. Therefore, visits are by reservation and last 30 to 45 minutes.
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