Among the spirits distilled from sugar cane juice, I generally prefer the Clairins from Haiti. They contain vegetal notes similar to Rhum Agricole from Martinique but they often lean towards olive or brine notes and not grassy notes. Clairins are batch / pot distilled and have a heavy body.
I’ve been a staunch proponent of the Saint Benevolence Rum Clairin for several years, which is an unaged expression at 50 ABV that’s full bodied and delicious. But for the Mai Tai tonight I decided to use Saint Benevolence’s expression aged “for a minimum of one year” and pair it in equal parts with a standout aged Haitian rhum, Barbancourt Réserve Spéciale 8. Barbancourt is a rhum from sugar cane juice but distilled in a column still, so it’s considerably lighter than clairins typicaly are.
Barbancourt is Haiti’s most recognizable distillery and brand, and is widely available in major liquor stores, Total Wine, etc. Whereas Saint Benevolence is an American brand that imports the spirits. The aged expression isn’t as commonly available but you can still pick it up at places like Bitters & Bottles.
Using aged rums brings this cocktail closer to the Mai Tai’s aged rum origin, and boy do these two rums pair well together. The heavy body of the Saint Benevolence is a perfect match for the Barbancourt’s oaky notes. One of the best Mai Tais I’ve made at home in a while.
The Mai Tai is a standard 1944 recipe using these ingredients.
1 oz Lime Juice
½ oz Orgeat (Latitude 29)
¼ oz Demerara Syrup (Liber & Co.)
½ oz Orange Curacao (Clement Creole Shrubb)
1 oz Rhum Barbancourt Réserve Spéciale 8
1 oz Saint Benevolence Rum Clairin Aged in New American Oak
Shake with crushed ice