Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Cuban Rum - Drinking Notes

At long last, the Cuban embargo is over! Well, at least, it’s over enough. A little more than a week ago, President Obama relaxed the embargo on Cuban goods, including allowing licensed U.S. travelers to Cuba to bring home merchandise worth up to $400, of which $100 can be spent on alcohol and tobacco combined. Say no more, Mr. President, because we called us up some travelers and bingo: two bottles of Cuban awesome hit our shelves in a matter of days. Which two? First the immortal rum base of the world, true Havana Club 7 Year (besides the U.S. who has labored under the long reign of over-commercialized Bacardi swill for most of our lives); the second, extra anejo Santiago de Cuba, 12 years encased in oak.

Now, for those of you who are following us in purchasing Cuba rum, we have some tips. First, know that the embargo is still in effect,  so even if it’s legal to have Cuban items like rum and cigars at your house, it looks as though you are limited to $100 worth of rum at a time. We are not sure how this works yet, per se, but until it is clarified, we are going to drink our $70 worth before we order more. Second, until the embargo is completely gone, there will still be fakes, so look for Cuba’s rum warranty stamp on the bottles and/or get your rum from reputable travelers. Please note that Bacardi owns the label ‘Havana Club’ and their bottles with this label is swill from Puerto Rico. You know your Havana Club is real if it is being distributed by Pernod Ricard. Check your label, if it says ‘Pernod,’ you are solid.

As for the tasting notes, the Havana Club 7 Year is technically a run-of-the-mill rum around the world. Therefore it might disappoint rum drinkers in the States when they buy it for $20 and think it’s going to change their world, because it’s not. It doesn’t smell that great, there’s a bit of vanilla, but it’s mostly isopropyl-esque and thin. The taste doesn’t wow either, but it leaves a-more-than-pleasant, delicate, woodsy finish that makes me understand why this is on the rail at most European bars.

The Santiago, however, is a slow-sipping wonder. It smells of fresh cut sawdust and dark chocolate. It tastes as sweet as dry can taste with a lingering oak finish, obviously meant to pair with the best cigars Cuba has to offer. Cindy thinks that its dry and long finish would be great in the summer months.

As for a cocktail recipe, since Havana Club 7 Year will eventually be on shelves across America, try the time-honored Cuba Libre. Here’s the way we make it.

Cuba Libre

2 ounces Havana Club rum

Half a lime, hand-squeezed
Mexican Coca-Cola

Hand-squeeze a half a lime into a highball glass and then drop the rest of the lime into the bottom of the glass. Add ice. Pour in the Havana Club. Fill with Mexican/Nostalgia Coke (Coke made with cane sugar instead of corn syrup). Stir lightly.

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