I am not a big rum drinker myself, but I like the liquid. I never had enough time to explore it, and I know it’s a vast world.. Gladly I was asked to join and international Havana Club tasting on twitter the other day hosted by Peter Holland, respected rum writer and founder of The Floating Rumshack and joined by Havana Club’s International Brand Ambassador Meimi Sanchez, who were going to lead us through 4 lovely expression of the HC brand (including some amazing limited editions). Can I say no to such an event? of course not.
We started off with the Selección de Maestros, an expression I’ve had before :
“Selección de Maestros” is a Triple Barrel Aged rum, fruit of a unique process of elaboration:
First, the Maestros Roneros gather and select the finest and most exceptional aged rums.
These rums are then blended and placed for further ageing in barrels carefully selected for the aromatic properties of their wood, in which the rum will develop its character and intensity.
Finally, the Maestros Roneros get together a second time to select the rums that have perfectly matured. They will make up the final blend, bottled straight from the barrel at 45% ABV.
Nose: Sweet and rather spicy with pepper, burnt sugar maple and ginger on the nose hints of nut pie and oak. Quite nice.
Palate: Butterscotch and ripe orange, ginger and pepper too. Oak and creamy chocolate with a nice bitterness towards the end. Dark chocolate and espresso bean filled praline with butterscotch and caramel filling. Yes.
Finish: Bitter chocolate. Espresso and sugared orange peel.
A lovely drop. with enough sweetness, and depth to be drunk neat, or as a mixer. What a lovely way to start the evening.
we moved on to the 15 year old ‘Añejo 15 Años’ : Havana Club Añejo 15 años has always been produced in very limited quantities – only 58 barrels a year – through a process of blending and ageing in old oak barrels selected rums and aguardientes several times . The name "Añejo 15 años" means that what you have in your hands is a fabulous final blend elaborated with rum reserves that have been aged for at least 15 years. This unique ageing process helps develop truly distinctive aromas and flavours and gives the extra smoothness that is the hallmark of a top quality rum.
Nose: Concentrated – in one word. Sweeter and deeper, with quite some ripe oranges and citrus notes up front. golden syrup and thick maple syrup too. very very sweet . Some dried fruit too : sultana, and maybe peaches.
Palate: thick and oily, with sweet / savory mix, spices, cocoa , golden syrup, caramel and treacle. some nice oak and woody tannins flying around, Xmas cake and chilly.
Finish: chocolate truffle , cocoa, coffee, spices.
This is deep and hedonistic stuff. Sweet and very concentrated. a lovely drop.
Next up was the Havana Club Unión : A collaboration between Maestro Ronero Asbel Morales and esteemed Master Habano sommelier, Fernando Fernandez Milian. Created through carefully selected rum bases matured by natural and total ageing in barrels handpicked by Maestro Ronero Asbel Morales to perfectly match with Cohiba cigars (or cigars in general).
Nose: I am getting more wood up front , then maybe a faint hint of rubber? red apple peal, and banana bread. some vanilla and more wood varnish.
Palate: Wood varnish up front, then sweeter notes, and exotic fruit. banana, pineapple, mango, chocolate mousse and cocoa powder, vanilla and cinnamon with chilly.
Finish: fruity, creamy with milk chocolate, and toasted wood.
This stuff isn’t cheap, but man it’s cracking stuff. Top dram with enough complexity and depth without just being “sweet” and thick. What a nice drop! I am in love.
We then arrived at the most luxioruis and expensive of the range, a whopping 1250 GBP price tag, and a very fancy decanter : the Máximo Extra Añejo : Havana Club Máximo Extra Añejo is handcrafted from rare extra-aged rums and enshrined within an elegant crystal decanter hand-blown by a Master glassmaker.
The creation of Havana Club Máximo Extra Anejo has been a unique adventure and personal odyssey of patience and faith but also a cultural journey through Cuban rum making history and tradition. It is handcrafted by blending the finest and oldest rum reserves that have been left to age in Havana Club cellars in respect of the genuine tradition of Cuban rum-making. This unique and very slow process means that the reserves used are extremely rare and explain why Havana Club Máximo is a very limited edition: only 1000 bottles a year.
Color: Yes, this is almost black when you pour it into the glass. No coloring added, so that means a long maturation.
Nose: Deep dried fruit, tons of plums and raisins soaked in sweet thick syrup, molasses, and yes, some rubber, with hint of cigar leaves.
Palate: Old wooden benches, coated by dark chocolate, tobacco leaves, plum jam, freshly ground black pepper, cherries.
Finish: Dark chocolate, wood, tobacco leaves, plums.
This is a much darker, deeper, and somber sort of rum. It’s not as sweet, but it packs enough dried fruit to make it juicy, which is complemented by the tobacco leaves and dark chocolate notes.There’s just a wee hint of rubber, even licorice. It’s really a beautifully crafted spirit. And yeah, it looks super cool to on your rum shelf. At that price, you might expect a fancy decanter, right?
This has been a brilliant evening, tasting some Rums I never had before and getting to know some of the finest in the Havana club range. If I had to pick my favorites, I’d go with the 15 year old and the Club Unión , which were splendid. The Maximo is also very impressive, and quite different.
Many thanks to the Peter and Meimi for a delightful evening.