Folklore is built around legendary figures who’ve become larger than life to us mere mortals. Gods, heroes, spirits and demons vie for our attention, spreading across cultures and connecting people to the supernatural. A common strand across every culture is the presence of a death god, and in the case of Haitian Voudou, it’s Baron Samedi.
Suave, changeable and bawdy, the head of the Guede loa is the kind of god a rum drinker can share a bottle with.
The gentleman of the underworld
Baron Samedi is a member of the Haitian Guede, the family of loa (spirits) that personify death and fertility. Depicted as a tall, handsome man in a black top hat and tuxedo, Samedi is the master of the dead and can usually be found at the crossroads between life and death.
As keeper of the underworld, his role is to guide souls into the afterlife. He digs their grave and greets the deceased after they’ve been buried. Known for his raucous, debauched behaviour, Baron Samedi is far from a grim spirit. There’s nothing he loves more than seducing mortal women, smoking cigars and chugging rum by the barrel full. When not throwing wild parties and getting up to no good, Samedi spends time with his wife Maman Brigitte.
Samedi is also the loa of resurrection, capable of healing any wound or disease so long as he thinks it’s worth his time. If the Baron refuses to dig someone’s grave, then they will go on living. Samedi will also make sure that every corpse rots in the ground to prevent a body from coming back as a zombie.
Despite his capability of being noble, Samedi rarely does anything out of the kindness of his heart. He will always demand payment for his actions, with his preferred offerings being rum, cigars, tobacco, black coffee, grilled peanuts or bread.
The Baron’s rum
Alcohol powerhouse Campari have brought the death loa to life with the Baron Samedi spiced rum. A blend of single pot Jamaican and Caribbean column still rum, the Baron’s rum carries notes of vanilla, cocoa, cinnamon and clove. This is spiked with the taste of vetiver, grass native to Haiti.
Bottled at 40% ABV, the rum sports Samedi’s face and it’s clear he’s got wicked intentions in his eyes. One assumes that after drinking it, there’s a good chance of being infused with the spirit of Samedi himself.
Baron Samedi’s bawdy nature would definitely bring him into contact with other mischievous spirits like duppy and La Diablesse. Find out more about her story and what her connection is to rum.