They bear the secrets of one of Cuba’s true treasures: rum that owes its high quality to the noblest traditions and finest ingredients.
Cuba has become known as the “Isle of Rum”, due to a combination of world-famous sugar cane (first introduced by Christopher Columbus in 1493), a favourable Caribbean climate, fertile soil, and the unique know-how of Cuban “Maestro Roneros” (master rum-makers). Sailors, swashbucklers and locals liked to use this exceptional sugarcane to make fermented nectar and “tafia” (an early type of rum). Quality improved drastically in the 1800s with the introduction of copper stills and the first attempts at ageing. Pedro Diago, known now as the father of Cuban rum, can be thanked for this. He had the idea of storing the “aguardientes,” or eaux-de-vie, in pots and burying them in the ground.
The second half of the 19th century saw the production of a lighter and more refined rum, known as “Ron Superior”. This was developed on the instructions of the Spanish Crown, which wanted a more delicate rum that could “satisfy the court and the elite of the Empire.” El Ron Superior is the father of today’s Cuban rum: light, smooth, delicate, crisp and exceptional straight or in cocktails. Its popularity was such that by 1860 there were more than 1,000 distilleries in Cuba.
Today Havana Club aimsto embody the heritage and supremacy of the Cuban rum-making tradition. Relying on the unique know-how of its Maestros Roneros, Havana Clubpractices the art of añejamiento : the art of distilling, ageing and blending premium rums. The name “Havana Club”evokes Cuba’s rum-making heritage and the unique atmosphere of Havana, the country’s capital. Havana Club is closely entwined with Cuban culture, and Cubans take pride in the brand.
Cuba offers an outstanding combination of privileged climate and soil to produce some of the
best sugar cane in the world, and Havana Club uses fresh molasses or “mieles” (literally called “honey” in Cuba). A blend of this molasses, yeast and pure water is left to ferment for several days. The “baticion,” as this fermented mixture is called, is distilled in columns to produce the clear and fiery “aguardientes” carrying the promise of rum to be.
After distillation, these “aguardientes” – the true soul of rum – go through the stages of ageing, blending and selection to become “madre” (“mother,”, the rum base). This base is then blended with a fresh sugar cane distillate to create “ron fresco”, which is then successively aged and blended again until the Maestro Ronero decides it is perfect for a chosen class of rum. This last act of blending is called the “toque,” the final touch. Throughout the ageing phases, the choice of barrels is crucial, as the wood gives colour, aroma and complexity to the liquid. The Maestro Ronero chooses old white oak barrels to allow the rum to breathe, and younger barrels for their tannic properties.
The art of Añejamiento (“ageing”), based on successive ageing and blending, is the essence of Havana Club rum,and is carried outwith the greatest respect for Cuban tradition. All rums in the Havana Club range are aged, hence their name Añejo (“aged”), from young pale rums to aged and extra-aged rums: Añejo Blanco, Añejo 3 Años, Añejo Especial, Añejo Reserva, Añejo 7 Años, Cuban Barrel Proof and Máximo Extra Añejo. Their recipes are closely guarded secrets, known only to the senior Maestros Roneros, but all of them have the same fundamental characteristics.
The “Maestros Roneros” (literally “master rum-makers”) are the driving force behind Havana Club rum. They are responsible for every step of the rum-making process, from the selection of sugar cane to the final bottling. They oversee the blending and ageing of the rum with particular passion, patience and precision, as well as a strong commitment to Cuban rum-making tradition. They bear the secrets of one of Cuba’s true treasures: rum that owes itshigh quality to the noblest traditions and finest ingredients.
Around 15 years of training are necessary to become a true Maestro Ronero – a period in which the most experienced Maestro Roneros transmit their knowledge to their successors. Each Maestro Ronero leaves his creations to age so that future generations may use them to blend even better aged rums.
Today Don José Navarro, Havana Club’s Primer Maestro Ronero, and his team follow every step of this unique process,adhering toCuban rum-making tradition and safeguarding the quality of Havana Club rum.
“The rum doesn’t come from a magical combination. It is a cultural legacy, passed on from Maestro Ronero to Maestro Ronero, from heart to heart, from Cuban to Cuban.” Don José Navarro
Character and Style of Havana Club