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Looking to buy a bottle of dark rum? Read our expert review of the Ron La Progresiva 13 (41% ABV), a distinctly Cuban rum.
A distinctly Cuban rum that's immensely proud of its Cuban heritage. Out of the famous Vigia bodega, this aims to offer to the people the premium sipping rum once reserved for the elites of the island. Full of caramel and toffee, tart orange and baking spices, this is a delight over ice.
Rum production in Cuba dates back to the early 16th Century, when the Spanish brought sugarcane to the island and slaves would make aguardiente from the plant. Aguardiente in this form is an early ancestor of rum, though the term has also been used to describe early precursors to pisco in Latin America.
It wasn’t until the mid-19th Century that Cuban rum as we know it today began to take shape. The island’s distinctly drier style rose to prominence due to a commitment to the ageing process, which lends a more woody character. The maturation process also helped achieve a mellower and more complex flavour profile.
The Bodega Vigia that produced Ron La Progresiva 13 has a proud tradition. In years gone by, the premium sipping rums produced by the bodega were reserved for visiting statesmen – Barack Obama received a bottle upon his visit to Cuba. Though this isn’t all the Vigia name is renowned for. Next door is the Finca Vigia estate, where Ernest Hemingway wrote some of his greatest works – the author would spend his days gazing out over Havana and the Florida Straits ('vigia' translates to ‘lookout’). The writer helped popularise some of the island’s signature cocktails and he was considered something of a rum aficionado.
As with all Cuban rum, sugarcane for Ron La Progresiva is sourced from the island itself, specifically the Ciego de Avila province. Known for its rich soil, the molasses produced here are typically high in sugar content. The molasses are distilled into aguardiente in column stills before being matured for two years in white oak casks. When the two years are up, the aguardiente is decanted and mixed with neutral spirit and pure water to create the rum base, which is then matured in barrels that have been used at the bodega for decades. Ron La Progesiva is made using two rum bases, one which has been aged at least 13 years. The barrels used have been kept in the darkest part of the cellar in order to reduce 'the angel’s share' – the amount of liquid lost to evaporation.
On the nose, the rum transports you to a Cuban beach – fresh pineapple charges out of the gate, followed by light caramel and sticky toffee. The palate stays true to the nose, with toffee and caramel taking over from pineapple. Dry oak and warming spices are joined by a tart orange note, while caramel and oak dominate the finish.
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 email@example.com.