$ — 43% ABV — 8 years
A rum that thinks it's a brandy, Barbancourt mimics most of the production methods of Cognac, but the end result is something quite different: it tastes a bit like everything. There's a floral rummy flavor, there's a fruity brandy flavor and there's even a sweet bourbon flavor. In a blind taste, you might not be immediately sure what you've been served.
Barbancourt uses only a particular varietal of local sugarcane, and personally grows 20% of the crop they use. Especially in French-Caribbean and Brazilian cachaça rums, crop is very important as the aromas from unprocessed cane juice is so much stronger and varies so much more than molasses — which as a refined product has some level of consistency to it.
Despite this emphasis on crops, Barbancourt is distilled past 90% ABV — unlike Martinique rums which only go up to 72%. This makes for a much more wood-forward rum, and is done probably to reign in the cloying olive-like smell signature to Martinique. Again in keeping with Cognac, oak barrels from the French Limousin forest are imported. People who pay attention to wood will know this means black pepper flavors, but also a lot of vanilla comes through too — which is where that Bourbon-like character starts to show.
Again similar to Cognacs, shopping for this product follows similar rules. The only other bottle you're like to find is the slightly cheaper 4-year, which can be ignored. However the 15-year is definitely worth a try, and the adventurous should pick up the white as well.
Barbancourt is located in Port-au-Prince, Haiti in the Greater Anitlles of the Caribbean. Established in 1862 by Dupré Barbancourt, it remains an independent distiller.