Exotic, lovely, forbidden and inexpensive. A rare combination of my favorite things and the Havana Club Rum to buy at the lower end of the price range.
Notes: This is a review of a REAL Havana Club Rum from Cuba ( legally imported by me from Cuba on a visit there. NOT the “Havana Club” made by Bacardi ( rather disingenuously labeled Havana Club Anejo Clásico Puerto Rican Rum). That rum in both the white and aged versions are reviewed separately on this website.
There has been a lot of controversy and interest in real Cuban Havana Club Rum ( the forbidden fruit of rum for Americans since 1963 ) fueled by the embargo in the United States and the Bacardi Family and company in a very long and drawn out court fight over the label Havana Club .
While we do not have the space to get into it here (indeed a number of books and hundreds of articles have been written about this epic struggle).
I will state that there is a huge difference in the real Cuban Havana Club Rum in all its iterations and expressions and the Bacardi products labeled Havana Club. With the Revolution in Cuba and the United States refusing to recognize the new Cuban government or any of its Geographic indications or trademarks, a cottage industry sprung up of registering venerable Cuba trademarks in the US and selling products that had nothing to do with the originals except in name only. This is one of those examples.
Havana Club was sold in the USSR and Eastern Bloc countries almost exclusively for a number of years and rarely seen outside of Cuba or those areas. This has changed a bit.
The Havana Club Company is owned by the government of Cuba and has a joint venture with Pernod Ricard of France called Havana Club International which was launched in 1994 to bring Havana Club to Europe and the rest of the world except of course the United States due to our trade embargo . Recent developments are allowing the import of the rum into this country by tourists returning directly from Cuba and also more recently from anywhere else in the world, such as Canada or Europe for personal use only. The same laws also apply to cigars but in both cases you must bring it in with you, mail order is not allowed.
Much is made of the fact that this rum is from Cuba, not a imitation, and that the terrior, the cane and the climate all make for a distinctive geographic style and the company aggressively promotes this view and all the distillers and staff take great pride in the National identity and origin of this rum.
There are several expressions of Havana Club available now and they range in age from a Blanco through the Millennium which is a blend of 70 to 100 year old reference samples. The Selección de Maestros falls in the middle range of age with a blend of triple barrel aged rums of roughly ten to 15 years ( some older) The aging is especially interesting in that the utilize used barrels for the first two sets of aging then only use new oak barrels at the end – I presume that is to get the most time out of the rum first and give it a hefty boost of oak at the end of the aging cycle. They are the only brand that I know of that does this. Would be interesting to see any other product trying this approach.
The Selection for the blend is done by ALL the Maestros de Ron of Havana Club and only the best selections are used in this blend.
The other expression we brought back and reviewed, the Havana Club7 Year Anejo, can be found here.
Appearance: Clear as a bell, beautiful deep Baltic amber color
First Impression: Caramel, nuts, orange curacao, nutmeg, cinnamon,
Taste: Thick, rich entry of caramel, drying to spice and wood with slightly smoky notes with demerara sugar, molasses, vanilla , nutmeg and spice notes . Nicely drying finish and long pleasant fade.
Drinks: While it works nicely in most classic rum drinks, really just enjoy it in a decent glass with one ice cube and give it the attention and contemplation it deserves ( and you too )>
Bottle: This bottle seems very much in the style of s Scotch or other spirits bottle of English or European influence in the general overall shape and the brightness of the glass makes it seem like Pernod Ricard may have helped design this one. Decanter like bottom embossed La Habana Cuba on the front shoulder and El Ron de Cuba on the back in the middle,, shows the pride expressed on the outside of the bottle that this is a real Cuban product. Small but brightly colored labels using a high glass metallic type inks and plenty of virgin glass uncovered by the labels to show the rum to good effect, Composite cork closure with rigid bright blue embossed Havana Club Design highlighted in gold paint. It is quite stunning ! , and would look lovely in a pride of place on any bar private or commercial.
Cigars: Of course a real good quality Cuban cigar is a must with this. A Montecristo or Romeo and Julieta is a good start, corona or robust please.
Final Thoughts: Probably the highest value to price of the Havana Club line, much better than the nearest in price , the 7 year old – which is quite nice on its own , but for a little more money this really delivers. Knocks any Bacardi product in this age range straight out of the ring.
Website: www https havana-club/em-ww
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