Rhum Barbancourt (Société du Rhum Barbancourt) is a very well-known brand of rum that is made in the country of Haiti. The company has been around for more than 150 years. An age that speaks volumes about how successful Rhum Barbancourt has been at building a customer base as well as maintaining a customer base.
1. Rhum Is the French For Rum
For starters, rhum is the French for "rum." This makes sense because Haiti has two official languages. One would be French. The other would be Haitian Creole, which is a French-based creole language. In fact, Haiti is just one of two independent countries in the Americas to have French as an official language. There are other French-speaking regions in the Americas. However, they are parts of France itself.
2. Produced By the Société du Rhum Barbancourt
Rhum Barbancourt is produced by the Société du Rhum Barbancourt. Said organization can trace its roots to the mid 19th century, which is enough to make it one of the oldest institutions in Haiti. The longevity of the Société du Rhum Barbancourt has presumably been helped by how its product is one of the country's most famous exports.
3. The Société du Rhum Barbancourt Is Headquartered in Port-au-Prince
Currently, the Société du Rhum Barbancourt is headquartered in Port-au-Prince. This is perhaps unsurprising. After all, Port-au-Prince is the country's most populous city by a considerable margin. As such, it is an economic, financial, and cultural center, particularly since it is the Haitian capital as well. Under those circumstances, it makes sense that the Société du Rhum Barbancourt would be headquartered in Port-au-Prince.
4. The Société du Rhum Barbancourt Has Its Operations In the Plain of the Cul-de-Sac
Having said that, much of the Société du Rhum Barbancourt's operations are situated elsewhere. Specifically, that would be the Plain of the Cul-de-Sac, which is a stretch of fertile lowland that extends from southeastern Haiti to the southwestern Dominican Republic. That fertility means that the land has been focused on agricultural production for a very long time. Once upon a time, the Plain of the Cul-de-Sac saw the production of a great deal of indigo. Nowadays, the Plain of the Cul-de-Sac sees the production of a great deal of sugar cane. Since the production of rum requires sugar cane, it isn't hard to see why the Société du Rhum Barbancourt would have an interest in this region.
5. First Produced By Dupré Barbancourt
Rhum Barbancourt was first produced by a man named Dupré Barbancourt. He came from Charente, which is one of the departments that make up the administrative region of Nouvelle-Aquitaine. It is interesting to note that Charente is home to the commune of Cognac, so interested individuals should be able to guess that Charente is home to the cognac industry. This is no coincidence, seeing as Barbancourt wanted to make a rum at least as good as cognac. In any case, Barbancourt started up his distillery in 1862. Subsequently, he started producing Rhum Barbancourt after learning how to produce rum in December of the same year. Something that has continued to the present time.
6. Has Been Family-Owned the Entire Time
The Société du Rhum Barbancourt has remained family-owned the entire time. When Dupré Barbancourt died in 1907, it was his wife Nathalie Gardère and her nephew Paul Gardère who took up the running of the distillery. The latter would continue doing so until his death in 1946, with the result that he was replaced by Jean Gardère. In turn, Jean Gardère was succeeded by Thierry Gardère, who was succeeded by Delphine Nathalie Gardère. Currently, she is still the one running the Société du Rhum Barbancourt.
7. Now Owned By Delphine Nathalie Gardère
The ownership of the Société du Rhum Barbancourt is now concentrated in the hands of a single individual. To be exact, Delphine Nathalie Gardère returned to Haiti in 2017 because of the death of her father. She inherited more than a third of the shares, which provided her with enormous influence because two-thirds support is needed for a decision to be implemented. However, she winded up being challenged by her father's siblings as well as a cousin. A process that culminated in her buying out every single one of the other shareholders, thus enabling her to press forward with her plans for the business.
8. Intent On Changing But Not Too Much
Unsurprisingly, Gardère isn't satisfied with the status quo. Instead, she wants to return to earlier flavors without changing so much that she alienates the current customer base in the process. The whole thing is connected to how the company used to produce rum using both pot stills and column stills, which is important because those different systems make for different-tasting rum. Unfortunately, the pot stills broke down in the early 1990s, with the result that they went unrepaired and unreplaced for a very long time because of global sanctions imposed in response to a military coup d'etat. Having said that, Gardère is well-aware that too much change wouldn't be a good thing. Well-established brands are powerful. However, that power comes from a strong set of expectations, meaning that running afoul of them can have unpleasant consequences.
9. Made Using Sugar Cane Juice
It should be mentioned that Rhum Barbancourt is made using sugar cane juice rather than sugar cane molasses. The latter is a byproduct of the sugar-production process. However, sugar factories in the French Caribbean took a serious hit in the early 19th century when France started making sugar out of sugar beets rather than sugar cane, with the result that sugar cane became available for rum production as well. In any case, fermenting sugar cane juice is said to make for a more flavorful product than fermenting sugar cane molasses.
10. Aged In Limousine Oak Barrels
The choice of container has a huge effect on such products. In the case of Rhum Barbancourt, it is aged in Limousine oak barrels, which has been a very popular choice for making alcoholic beverages for a very long time. The name refers to the former administrative region of Limousin, which would be home to the trees used to make these containers. Nowadays, Limousin is no longer a thing. However, the territories that once made up Limousin are now found in Nouvelle-Aquitaine.
Written by Lily Wordsmith
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