Providence: the new adventure of haitian rum
History and construction
Built in 2018, The project began as a collaboration between the Linge family of Berling, direct descendants of a famous Haitian rum dynasty, and La Maison & Velier, a joint venture between La Maison du Whisky in France and Velier in Italy. This association gave birth to a new rum brand: PROVIDENCE.
A unique family heritage
The Linge’s family ancestors left Bordeaux, France in 1765 to come to Haiti, then known as the French colony of Saint-Domingue and became the owners of a sugar cane plantation. In 1862, almost a century later, they established a rum distillery in Chemin des Dalles, a neighborhood of Port-au-Prince, and distilled what came to be considered one of the best Agricole-style rums in the world. The two heirs then split in 1870 and one of them kept the distillery operating.
With no direct heir to continue the work, a relative took over in 1946, keeping up with the tradition and modernizing the company, enabling it to grow from a small domestic industry to a proud international exporter.
The last living member of the original family married Rudolf Linge, a German expert in perfume who worked in Grasse during World War II.
Together, they launched their own brand (called Vieux Labbé), run today by their son Herbert Linge Sr.
What’s in a name?
Distillerie de Port-au-Prince is located on a site that was once called the Habitation Sarthe Providence. This area was at the time planted with sugar cane, which was processed by a nearby sugar mill, and it is believed that some small artisanal distilleries were already using the sugar cane from this area to make rum. When the idea came up to bring back the tradition of double distillation to Haiti, the name Providence, which also refers to a promising future destiny, seemed to fit the project perfectly.
Building the distillery
In 2012, the unexpected and groundbreaking revealing of Clairins – artisanal rums produced in the Haitian countryside – brought to light the incredible potential of the finest spirits produced in Haiti. The fields of organically grown sugar cane, the ancestral agriculture conducted without chemicals, and the authentic agrarian techniques found in Haiti have revealed a true rum-making heritage that had almost disappeared.
Since the mid-2010s, La Maison & Velier already had an aging cellar in Port-au-Prince where Clairins are being matured. The decision to locate the new distillery in this same space was a natural one.
In respect to Haiti’s threatened gingerbread architectural style recognized by the World Monuments Watch, the plans were drawn and executed by local architect William Kenel-Pierre. Detailed with fretted wood and intricate latticework, gingerbreads constitute a uniquely Haitian architectural heritage and an important example of a post-colonial building style, serving as emblems of Haiti’s rich past.
A copper still with a capacity of 1,500 liters adorns the building and was installed in January 2019, in the presence of the expert artisans who designed and built it: from Müller Pot Stills, based in Germany with their 80 years of experience, to the distillation unit which was designed and engineered with master distiller Gianni Capovilla, perfecting it for distilling sugarcane juice.
The first distillations took place in early 2019, paving the way for Providence rum, the very first spirit produced by Distillerie de Port-au-Prince. This first distillation marks only the beginning of the adventure: the production is set to grow and eventually offer a full range of white and aged rums.