Rhum Barbancourt. Delphine Gardère (CEO)
A family legacy
The history of Rum Barbancourt is one of family success story of a trade being kept in the house and passed down from generation to generation. The house was founded in 1862 by Dupré Babancourt who loved cognac and developed a recipe for rum based on how cognac was produced. Since, the house uses double distillation methods and other similar cognac production processes. It started as a cottage industry and with his death, his wife Nathalie Gardère took over the business with the help of her nephew Paul. He saw the tourist industry starting, and this is when the first bottles were produced. They were sold in the growing industry of cruise ships. Paul’s son, Jean Gardère, took over the business in 1946, and developed it as a factory enlarging the whole business. Jean was the visionary who could see the industrial potential of the family business. For almost 20 years, he ran the house developing the business potential and the production capacities. Each generation has brought its contribution, and since 2017, Jean’s daughter, Delphine Gardère is the executive director of the family industry.
Towards and international brand
Since 2017, one of the company’s bigger focus and challenges for the future is the export market. Delphine Gardère is bringing with her a vision to shift from a local brand to an international brand. This entails being more global in the way the company approaches communication. She knows that there is a new generation of consumers that are young and curious travelers, and they want to try new exotic products, thus social media and internet is going to be more and more focused, internationally, but also inside Haiti.
The consumers of Rum Barbancourt are people who love rum and know it. Thus, the more important is to get the product in their hands, and get the consumer to experience the quality of the product. A major strategy in the last year has been to organize multiple events in Florida to showcase the product.
Though a major market for rum Barbancourt future will be Europe, the US and especially Florida is of importance to the company. In Florida Barbancourt is working with one of the largest distributors for specialized shops.
A unique product
Rum Barbancourt is a remarkable product. Other French or Caribbean rums use sugar cane, but they don’t use double distillation. Double distillation is also used in other former Common Wealth rums, but they don’t use sugar cane but molasses. Sugar cane and double distillation gives Rum Barbancourt a unique positioning in terms of production and this gives the company a unique position in the rum market.
And of course, there is also their 100% Haitian identity and a family brand existing since 1862, which is something that is not seen often today.
As Delphine Gardère sees i : “A brand that is that old is almost like you have a master piece in your hands, you have to cherish it.”
To discover Rum Barbancourt means to discover an authentic Haitian brand rooted in the Haitian soil and terroir. The company works with local farmers, owning no sugar cane plantation, this means you get to really discover a taste of Haiti.
“Everything is from the heart of Haiti, everything is crafted here and there are very few companies that still do that, and it is a big commitment that we have. To be Haitian, to stay Haitian and to be rooted in Haiti.” – explains Mrs. Gardère proudly.
Committed to Haiti’s community
The commitment of the company it is not only with the soil and the farmers they work with, but the Barbancourt Foundation, works in different fronts to help the local community. Through the “Help” program, they finance students, giving scholarship as well for engineers and mechanics. Also, the Foundation donated the piece of land where the Gheskio Health Group is based, they are one of the leading organization for research against AIDS and other illnesses.
The company has distinctly invested in renewable energy. Studies were led to make the company be more efficient in terms of energy usage. The factory reuses residues of the sugar cane, that go in a furnace and produce electricity, thus reducing their electricity bill considerably. “It is a sustainable system, that was one of my father’s big projects and sadly he passed away when it was starting to be operational.” – states an emotional Delphine Gardère.
Rum Barbancourt is dedicated to Haiti, and from there reaching out to the world.
For Mrs. Gardère such dedication and passion for local and organically grown products is one more reason to invite people to get to know a rich and inspiring culture.
The proximity with the US is also an advantage: “Come to Haiti with no expectations, be open minded and you will discover an island, a country and a rich culture that will really surprise you”.