Battle for Barbancourt: Inside the family fight to control Haiti’s cherished brand

Battle for Barbancourt: Inside the family fight to control Haiti’s cherished brand

Go inside the story to view an interactive timeline of the 158-year-old company and its major players.

By Sam Bojarski

Battle for Barbancourt: Inside the family fight to control Haiti’s cherished brand

Bottles of Rhum Barbancourt, displayed outside the company’s distillery, on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince. Photo by Garry Pierre-Pierre

For more than 150 years, Haiti’s most cherished spirit, the rum produced by Société du Rhum Barbancourt, has been a part of many a Haitian family’s gatherings and traditions. And when Haitian families began migrating throughout the world, they brought the distinctive brand of smooth sugar cane rum as a staple for their households abroad.

Marie St. Louis, 39, of South Carolina, said her mother, her grandmother and her great-grandmother imbibed the rum on special occasions and used it in herbal remedies.

“It’s in our jokes, it’s in our rhymes, in our nursery lullabies,” said St. Louis, a U.S. Army medical operations officer, of Rhum Barbancourt. “It is something that we hold very, very dear.”

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