Havana Club Selección de Maestros (45% ABV) summary

This is Cuban rum by those who know it best. This barrel-proof bottle is packed with burnt sugar, dried fruits, leather and tobacco. It's a deep, dark, complex rum with just the right amount of pep, and a bottle worthy of the maestros who blend it.


What is distinct about Cuban rum?

Cuba’s climate and terroir are perfectly suited to sugarcane. In fact, in 1850, it was producing a third of the world’s sugar. Despite having the perfect conditions and materials for distilling rum, Cuba was unable to capitalise until the late 19th century, due to Spanish colonists restricting the island’s freedoms to protect Spain’s distilling industry.

At the start of the 20th century, Cuban rum was distinguished by the use of new distilling technologies. The island’s rum producers were early adopters of column stills, allowing them to craft a lighter, fresher rum.

These rums became the foundation of many modern cocktails, with a little help from prohibition in the US. Cuban bartenders (known as cantineros), became keen mixologists as rum production increased. Unable to drink at home, tourists from the US would travel to Cuba, and daiquiris, mojitos and cuba libres became staples.

What's the story behind Havana Club?

Havana Club was one of the central players in Cuba's rum industry. Founded in Cardenas in 1878 by Don Jose Arrechabala, the distillery’s name was chosen because it can be easily pronounced by English speakers, helping it win favour with American tourists. The firm remained a family business until 1960, when the distilleries making Havana Club rum were nationalised.

How does the Havana Club Selección de Maestros taste?

The Selección de Maestros bottle is the result of the best of the best coming together to create a rum for everyone to enjoy. Once a year, members of Maestros del Ron Cubano gather to select the rums that will go into this unique bottling, barrel by barrel.

The result is consistently delicious. The expression never disappoints, and it's no surprise. Aspiring maestros undergo a 15-year education under a senior maestro, learning how to choose the finest molasses and discovering the nuances of fermentation and distillation.

This bottling is packed with charred brown sugar on the nose, supplemented by warming spices. These characteristics carry through to the palate, where burnt sugar is met by other deep, dark, characteristically Cuban flavours: tobacco and leather are belted together with candied citrus and coffee beans, and the citrus comes to the fore during a smoky finish.

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This review was last updated in January 2021. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability, please get in touch at goodfoodwebsite@immediate.co.uk.