Today the business industry suffer a major lost. The man behind Haiti’s best-known export and most famous rum, Rhum Barbancourt, has died. He was 65.
Here is the story by Jacquie Charles of the Miami Herald :
Thierry Gardère died Wednesday in Port-au-Prince after complaining that he didn’t feel well and had trouble breathing, assistant William Eliacin confirmed to the Miami Herald. He said the cause of death was a pulmonary embolism.
“He had driven from Jacmel in his car and arrived home at 11 a.m.,” Eliacin said. “He died en route to the hospital.”
Gardère’s great-great uncle, Dupré Barbancourt, who moved to Haiti from France, founded the company in the same year — 1862 — that the United States finally recognized Haiti. The country had been shunned because of its successful slave revolt.
“They are now on the fourth generation,” Eliacin said. “It’s a big loss. Huge.”
The company’s general director, Gardère was in charge of Barbancourt’s day-to-day operation. Under his leadership, the company came back from a $4 million loss after 30 to 40 percent of its stock was lost in Haiti’s devastating Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake. Some of the white oak vats that had spilled onto the distillery’s floor contained rum as old as 15 years.
“I started to cry because of the alcohol vapours, well, and because of the tragedy,” Gardère told the Financial Times in a 2015 interview. “I was in shock, it was terrible.”
But even with a significant amount of the cognac-like stock lost, Gardère remained hopeful, telling the Herald three months after the quake: “We are ready to recover.”
And the company did. Once scarce, the suitcase-like boxes filled with rum bottles and stamped Haiti on the side were suddenly everywhere inside Toussaint Louverture International Airport in Port-au-Prince.
“The satisfaction he had was that the company was back on its feet,” Eliacin said.
Still, Eliacin, who has been with the company 40 years, can’t help but wonder about its fate. Gardère’s only daughter, Delphine Nathalie Gardère, lives in France. So do his brother and sister, also shareholders in the family enterprise. In addition, he’s also survived by his wife, Muriel Lamour Gardère.
“Barbancourt is a national ambassador for Haitians, an honor, a prestige,” Eliacin said. “It was no longer just for Thierry Gardère. It is for all Haitians, a national patrimony.”
RHUM BARBANCOURT ESSENTIAL FACTS
- Rhum Barbancourt was established by Dupre Barbancourt in 1862 when he emigrated to Haiti from the Cognac region of France.
- Rhum Barbancourt is over 150 years old and the method that Dupre Barbancourt used originally is still the same method used today.
- Rhum Barbancourt has now been passed down through 4 generations. Though Dupre Barbancourt left no heir, his wife and nephew continued the company, passing it down through their family. The company is now in the hands of Thierry Gardere.
- As Dupre Barbancourt originally set out to make rum as good or better than cognac, Rhum Barbancourt is double distilled just like a cognac would be.
- Only locally-grown, pure sugar cane purchased directly from farmers in Haiti is used to make Rhum Barbancourt.
- An average of roughly 40,000 tons of sugar cane are used per year; 240 tons daily.
- Rhum Barbancourt is truly aged in limousin oak barrels.
- Haiti is a country with a very rich culture with many local artisans and craftsman.Barbancourt strives to maintain that culture in their rhum. The artwork on the Estate Reserve box is actually done by Georges Remponneau, a local artist.
- Estate Reserve was actually at one time reserved only for the Barbancourt family.
- Pango Rhum is a dark aged rum that is actually blended with real pineapples and mangos.
We look forward to see Barbancourt to continue to grow and keep the prestigious title as a staple item in our culture. Gardere was excellent at managing the company, his dedication to see the brand strive was well accomplished.