Outside the old factory where they still sell the liquid

Back in 2007, I visited the kleren factory down the street from where the FHM guesthouse is now located.  At the time, I was with Dr. Delsen Merisier, Dr. David Walmer, and a group of Duke students.

I distinctly remember how the strong spirit, apparently only made in Haiti, permantly etched one of the student’s water bottles.

old factory
Inside the old factory

At the time I wanted Jeff to see the process, since it featured distillation, one of his areas of expertise as a chemical engineer

When we went by last week to see if we could take a peek, the people playing dominoes outside told us they were “ferme” or closed.

We noted, however, that the barrels of kleren, made like rum from sugar cane but not as refined, were still being stored in the adjacent building.

On Monday, we tried again since we had a team visiting who were interested in exploring this Hait speciality.

Even though it was closed, I asked if we could just look – all in Kreyol, of course. They actually said yes!

cane wagon for blogThen the real surprise came.  The owner of the factory suddenly appeared and invited us to sample some kleren.  He wouldn’t accept any “kob” or money.

Then he gestured for us to follow him in his truck.

We piled back into the van and drove a short way down Rte National #2, and the mystery of all the wagons of cane going by the guest house was solved.

new factory

As we pulled into the new factory, there were many empty wagons and huge piles of cane.

We were treated to a tour, watching them squeeze the juice from the cane and seeing them fill the boiler with the already-squeezed cane or bagasse.  We were even invited to climb up the distillation apparatus.

Watch Jeff’s video on YouTube.

adding fuel
Feeding bagasse into the boiler
piles of fuel
Piles of bagasse – they no longer use wood to fuel the process
wagons loaded up
View from the distillation tower
measuring SG
 Measuring specific gravity
 At the end of our visit, the owner told me were welcome any time.  And he explained that he remembered my coming with Dr. Merisier many years ago.
He also pointed out that he owns the cane plantation on two sides of the FHM guesthouse, so he’s our neighbor!  Who knew?