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Everyday Rum – Review 3: Havana Club Rum 7 year – £20 (700ml)

Havana Club has a high pedigree in the rum community and outside. There has been rum in Cuba since the introduction of the sugarcane crop to the Caribbean. Havana Club is currently the leading rum in Cuba and uses a number of Maestros Roneros (Master Rum Maker). It takes 15 years of dedication to become a Maestro Ronero, during which the elder masters impart their knowledge to the newer trainees. Havana Club’s Primer Maestro Ronero, Don Jose Navarro explains “It’s is a cultural legacy, passed on from Maestro Ronero to Maestro Ronero, from heart to heart, from Cuban to Cuban.”

You could be easily mistaken in thinking that this Havana Club 7 year is an entry level offering from Havana due to the price point. Although it maybe entry level in terms of a potential sipping rum, there are a few younger siblings that Havana produce which would be regarded as the entry level. Those are very much regarded as mixing rums, but this rum in their range takes things up a level.

The number written on bottles can be misleading when it comes to aging. However, in this instance Havana confirm that the minimum amount any part of this rum is aged is for 7 years. Thereby sticking to the ‘youngest drop’ policy. This is done by blending individual barrels of rum.

The rise to popularity of Havana Club 7 has been rapid in the UK market and is part of the reason it appears in the ‘Everyday Rum’ segment here. This can be found in supermarkets and most bars and it is becoming popular is restaurants as well. This rum has won awards at spirits championships in the 1990s which helps to display the Havana pedigree.

The bottle is an unusual dark brown colour and has a black label with the familiar red Havana club motif. The bottle has a screw cap rather than a cork which most premium rum manufacturers add when creating the packaging for a premium sipping rum. Definitely a stand out rum packaging when sat on a bartender’s shelf.

On the nose there is an immediate whiff of sweet caramel and a slight oak-ness. There are hints of coconut and passion fruit alongside which meld well together to help give an inviting aroma to this blend. The ethanol smell is still present though and needs to be understood and navigated past.

On my first sip the taste is more pleasant than the immediate ethanol hit from the nose. Alongside some leather and tobacco notes, I taste dark chocolate, burnt sugar and an oak-ness. The finish is creamy, with a hint of burn which does detract from the rum. Having sat for a few minutes I now taste prunes and raisins countering the sweetness found from the molasses. An interesting balance. The finish now is smoke and tobacco like. It doesn’t burn as much now, but the after taste isn’t what I prefer in my rum. Although if you enjoy those smoke and tobacco flavours, or fancy something to go alongside a cigar I can see how this rum would suit your needs.

Due to the wide availability of this rum throughout the UK market it is natural for this rum to have been used as a higher end mixer in cocktails. This is also where I feel this particular rum excels and where I would recommend a more casual rum drinker to enjoy this blend. In my opinion this makes a lovely Rum Based Old Fashioned cocktail and a Cuban classic cocktail of Cuba Libre is probably the best instance of this cocktail I have tried. Why not have a look at an article written earlier on rum based cocktails and experiment with those as well?

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How Is Rum Produced? (Final Part 5 – Blending & Bottling)

The earlier four parts can be found here: Part 1Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.

Now we have aged the rum, the distilleries almost always decide to blend the rum with other batches some of which maybe aged for different periods of time. Spiced rums can also be infused with herbs, fruits and spices to produce flavoured rum. Also it maybe diluted with water to help bring the alcohol level down to 40-50%. Once the colour, taste, consistency and anything else the master blender wants to manipulate has been done, the final product is ready to be bottled and distributed. The entire process can be completed in weeks if you do not require your rum to be aged.

As you can see there are only between 3-5 steps for producing rum depending on how you want your final product. However, the endless possibilities in the variety of stages make rum an extremely unique product with endless flavour profiles!

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The Largest Collection Of Rum Outside of London in the UK?

We have been to a few bars outside of London in the UK which have had an excellent selection of rum. One of the more notable was The Liars Club in Manchester which not only had over 100 different rums, but a friendly and informative staff to boot. Also there is Island Bar in Birmingham, which has a separate tiki bar and boasts over 50 different types of rum.

However, we came across a bar, Cubana, in Sheffield in the news recently which has over 150 bottles of rum. Now we haven’t been to Sheffield, but this bar is a reason to go. A very good reason! The owners Brad Charlesworth and Adrian Bagnoli have put together a list of rum which is sourced from far and wide. As well as a large selection from the Caribbean, they have the famous Japanese Rum “Nine Leaves” as well.

However, the reason they were in the news recently was due to the fact they have purchased one of the most expensive bottles of rum in the world directly from Havana in Cuba. They will be selling Havana ‘Maximo Extra Anejo’ for £150 per 25ml shot. There are bottles available in the UK online at around £1,250 and it is touted as one of the best rum’s in the world. As well as spending time in Cuba for the rum, the Cubana spent time building other contacts and are currently in talks to bring a group of talented Cuban musicians to Sheffield for a short period to play at the bar.

The top of Havana’s production line, the bottle is more of a glass decanter and was made by one of their master distiller; Maestro Ronero Don José Navarro. He has over 40 years of experience in making Havana Club and is one of the most experienced in the entire industry.

We am yet to try this rum, but from what I have read it is meant to have notes of oak and smokiness alongside subtle tones of fruit on the nose, namely coconut and pear notes. On the tongue it is said to be woody with hints of vanilla and very smooth indeed. The finish is warm and spicy. From the couple of people I have met who have had the opportunity to savour this rum, they have unanimously agreed that it is an excellent rum, very complex and yet subtle at the same time, a must try for all rum enthusiasts indeed.

When we next make a trip up north, The Cubana Tapas Bar will definitely be on our must visit list. If your bar in the UK has a wider selection of rums, please let us know and We’ll be happy to update this post.