The First Cuban RUM with a sub­tle and dis­tinc­tive smoky note

On Cuba - - MADE IN CUBA - Ce­cilia Cre­spo Pho­tos: Cortesy of Ha­vana Club

In the con­text of the 2018 Ha­banos Fes­ti­val, Ha­vana Club In­ter­na­tional S.A. will present Trib­uto 2018, the most re­cent rum of that com­pany’s Iconic Col­lec­tion. Barely some 2,500 bot­tles, each one num­bered as pieces of a lim­ited and exclusive edi­tion, will be mar­keted in the world.

Com­pared to the col­lec­tion’s pre­vi­ous al­co­holic bev­er­ages, in Trib­uto 2018 the smoked fla­vor pre­dom­i­nates, a re­sult of a com­plex process of com­bi­na­tions and nat­u­ral ag­ing in the Ha­vana Club ware­houses in­side white oak bar­rels, specif­i­cally of the San José rum fac­tory.

All the rums of Ha­vana Club Trib­uto, as its name in­di­cates, pay a trib­ute. They dis­tin­guish tra­di­tions es­tab­lished in the knowl­edge of Cuban Rum Mae­stros, a Cul­tural Her­itage of the Na­tion. The one from 2016 to the Rum Mae­stros; the one from 2017 to spir­its made from sug­ar­cane; and this one to ag­ing, es­pe­cially to the bar­rel. The nat­u­ral ag­ing is a more than 150-year-old prac­tice.

Cuba Rum Mae­stro As­bel Mo­rales, whose sig­na­ture is stamped on the bot­tle, in­sists that it isn’t the work of a sin­gle man but rather a legacy passed on from gen­er­a­tion to gen­er­a­tion. The bot­tle is the color of the white oak, the raw ma­te­rial of the bar­rels that pay trib­ute to this spirit. “It’s not a hand­writ­ten recipe,” he ex­plained in an exclusive con­ver­sa­tion with OnCuba, “it’s about find­ing an aroma, a fla­vor that forms part of a tra­di­tion. That’s the se­cret: in ag­ing and com­bin­ing; in the metic­u­lous work that makes it pos­si­ble to find a smell and an ex­cep­tional taste in which what’s very im­por­tant in its mak­ing are the bases, the cel­lars, the bar­rels, the tem­per­a­ture, the hu­mid­ity, the time of the year….”

Mo­rales high­lighted the sen­so­rial at­tributes that, in his opinion, dis­tin­guish the third de­liv­ery of Ha­vana Club Trib­uto. He re­ferred to its deep am­ber color and aro­matic ca­pac­ity.

“In this edi­tion we can find traces of the more than 40-year-old spirit that gave rise to this rum af­ter many com­bi­na­tions and ag­ing. It is a lim­ited and at the same time unique edi­tion, it will not be re­peat­able, nor will its process of com­bin­ing and ag­ing, turn­ing it into an exclusive and bal­anced prod­uct. Trib­uto 2018 is es­pe­cially a trib­ute to the white oak bar­rel. It is im­por­tant that it be known that this white oak bar­rel was pre­vi­ously used by other pro­duc­ers of spir­its, specif­i­cally of whisky. This bar­rel im­preg­nates it with a smoked fea­ture, whose ori­gin we wanted to con­serve, and it will be the spirit’s sin­gu­lar­ity. Trib­uto is the world’s first smoked rum.

Be­ing a smoked rum, with which Ha­bano do you think it com­bines the best?

In a world of aro­mas and fla­vors it’s not easy to im­pose some­thing, it all de­pends on the con­sumer’s taste. One com­bines it with what one prefers to ex­plore the sen­sa­tions born of the com­bi­na­tion of to­bacco and rum and, as I al­ways say: there’s no ac­count­ing for taste and the same goes for cigars and rums.

The Ha­vana Club rums and the Ha­banos rep­re­sent distin­guished ex­pres­sions of the same land, of au­then­tic tra­di­tions. Their shared ori­gins and the wealth of their his­to­ries turn them into nat­u­ral al­lies. The re­la­tions be­tween both com­pa­nies have al­ways flowed nat­u­rally.

We no longer cre­ate a rum with­out think­ing of which vi­tola it will com­bine with. It was Ha­vana Club Unión that most re­flected that feel­ing, when we made a spe­cific rum for a cigar and that brought us closer to the wis­dom of the Ha­bano and of the Ha­bano som­me­lier mae­stros. In the case of Trib­uto 2018 since it is a smoked rum we ac­cepted the chal­lenge and started search­ing for its ideal vi­to­las. We con­cluded that we can ac­com­pany it with a Partagás Corona Gorda and a 2016 Lim­ited Edi­tion Mon­te­cristo. This per­sis­tent rum can be fully en­joyed with both, or in many other ways, also smelling the aroma left on the glass cup.

When can we say there’s been a good com­bi­na­tion of both prod­ucts?

There is no re­la­tion when there is no com­bi­na­tion. If we go back to the et­y­mol­ogy of the word, com­bi­na­tion means union, mar­riage. When you achieve it, those in­volved are bal­anced, and are ca­pa­ble of feel­ing one’s re­la­tion to the other. If you light the Ha­bano and smoke when tast­ing the rum, the bal­ance be­tween both reaches a level that makes you again go to the cigar, and when you are with the lat­ter it makes you re­turn to the rum. If one of them goes be­yond the other, then such a re­la­tion doesn’t ex­ist.

With the vi­to­las rec­om­mended for Trib­uto 2018 this is achieved be­cause both are go­ing to show an aroma and a fla­vor that when you take them to your lips will be re­lated so well that the de­sire will al­ways re­main to get to the first and the sec­ond. They com­ple­ment and need each other be­cause they share the same fea­tures, the same iden­tity.

What will the rit­ual be to com­bine with Trib­uto 2018?

This is a world that al­ways has sur­prises in store. When we made the Ha­vana Club Union rum, whose per­fect com­bi­na­tion is with the Co­hiba Siglo VI, we re­al­ized that the com­bi­na­tion is a ver­i­ta­ble rit­ual. In this case it is per­fect to first light a cigar and then to serve the rum.

How­ever, with Trib­uto 2018 some­thing cu­ri­ous hap­pens - it’s not the cigar that is first lit. The first step is to taste the rum and then light the cigar. That’s why the com­bi­na­tion doesn’t have a set rule. You take it to your lips and you per­ceive the un­prece­dented sen­sa­tion of the smoked, then you com­bine it with the cigar and you feel they are bal­anced in a dif­fer­ent way.

When you smoke the cigar first and later drink the rum, you re­al­ize that you’re miss­ing some­thing. With this rit­ual it’s the other way around. It is fas­ci­nat­ing, there’s al­ways some­thing to dis­cover in this uni­verse of aro­mas and fla­vors.

“Each prod­uct of the Iconic Col­lec­tion has its own his­tory, and in it Trib­uto holds a very special place be­cause it aims to show the wealth and ver­sa­til­ity of Cuban rum and of our Ha­vana Club cel­lars in par­tic­u­lar – show­ing the world that our rum can be ex­tremely fine, with a great cul­tural value. That’s why its edi­tions are lim­ited, we want con­nois­seurs of aged spir­its to add to their col­lec­tion this new au­then­tic Cuban rum,” con­cluded the Cuban Rum Mae­stro.

| Photo: Clau­dio Peláez Sordo

Cuban Rum Mae­stro As­bel Mo­rales

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