Haiti's Rhum Barbancourt bouncing back

Haiti's best-known export, Rhum Barbancourt, was hit hard during the January earthquake and aftershocks, but expects to resume bottling and shipping this month, or by mid-May.

Word from Port-au-Prince is that resumption of production comes despite an estimated $4 million in damages when bottles and oak vats, some containing precious 15-year-old rum, were destroyed in the quakes.

Thierry Gardère, general director and fourth generation in the family to run the company, told news reporters that it could take as long as four years to ramp up production to pre-disaster levels.

"It's pretty spectacular that Barbancourt is still here, is still great, and is still setting a high standard that other companies have to match -- especially at their luxury level," said Robert Burr, the Coral Gables, FL, publisher of the Gifted Rums Guide.

The company, founded in the 19th century by a French emigré, sells about $12 million of rum annually. The U.S. is its largest export market.

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