This is a new one for me and maybe for most of you…..unless of course you’ve visited Cuba, which means that you will be more than well versed with the delights that this range of rums has to offer! Cuban rums hold a special place for me as it was Havana Club Anejo Especial ( a rum that my wife had a fondness for and introduced me to ) that became one of my staple drinks and one of my entry points into the world of rum. Anyway, I digress. It is Ron Cubay that I’m talking about and please forgive me if ‘talking’ becomes ‘raving’.
A little rum history to begin with. Rum production was first undertaken in Cuba in the 17th Century when sugarcane was used to create a crude molasses wine which would eventually be called Ron, or Rum. The sugarcane that was used was first introduced to Cuba in 1493 by Christopher Columbus on his return visit after discovering the Island on his first voyage to the Americas in 1492. The sugarcane, which had come from Spain from its origins in the Far East grew well in Cuba’s climate and soon became its main crop. In the 19th Century, rum production in Cuba really ramped up with places such as Havana, Cardenas and Santiago de Cuba beginning to produce large quantities of rum for export.
Fast forward to 1964 and Ron Cubay was founded in Santo Domingo, Villa Clara, which is centrally located in Cuba. The Cubay rums are produced by the distilleries of Cuba Ron S.A which also produce Havana Club. The Ron Cubay brand was only ever intended for domestic consumption, hence the reason that we are only just seeing it in the UK with it only having a presence in Europe since 2010. Distribution rights within the UK are held by a company called JBE Imports and it is thanks to Jonathan of JBE imports that I have the opportunity to sample and write about these rums.
Although the Ron Cubay range consists of 5 rums……a 3-year-old Carta Blanca, a 4-year-old Carta Dorada, a 5-year-old Anejo Suave, a 7-year-old Anejo and a 10-year-old Anejo Reserva Especial, it is only the 3, 7 and 10-year-old expressions that will be marketed in the UK. As it has been making waves in Europe, particularly in The Netherlands, Ron Cubay has also been collecting awards with the Anejo winning Best Golden Rum at the 2012 Dutch Rum Awards and the Anejo Reserva Especial winning Best Premium Rum at the 2012 Dutch Rum Awards. All of which is nice, but what you really want to know is how it tastes…..so here goes.
Tasting Notes – Ron Cubay Carta Blanca
In the glass: The rum is clear but does display a slight golden hue. Immediately you get green sugarcane and a freshness. No harshness at all and a little sweetness.
In the mouth: There is a slight sugarcane on your tongue and a little fruity sweetness. The finish is medium length and leaves you with a grassy, fresh sugarcane taste. It’s clear that this rum will mix well.
I wanted to use the rum in a drink that would allow the rum to be at the fore, therefore I went for a daiquiri, or more specifically, a Hemingway Daiquiri. If you look online there are numerous recipes with varying quantities, some have sugar syrup as well as maraschino liqueur and others have an insane amount of lime. Truth is, as mentioned previously, you will find a combination that suits you, and you wont believe how different this tastes to a standard Daiquiri. I don’t like mine too sour so I opted for 10ml fresh lime juice, 10ml fresh ruby grapefruit juice, 10ml Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur and 50ml Ron Cubay Carta Blanca. Put it all in a Boston Shaker with plenty of cubed ice and shake well for about 10 seconds so as not to dilute too much. Double strain into a pre-chilled glass of your choice, mine is a rocks glass. Garnish with a maraschino cherry if you desire, I just dive straight in.
Tasting Notes – Ron Cubay Anejo
In the glass: The rum is a bright golden colour and there is an initial brown sugar and honeyed vanilla aroma. The rum smells quite light and doesn’t look to viscous in the glass but there is a nice light sweet fruit depth to the rum that I can’t quite put my finger on.
In the mouth: The rum tastes quite light and doesn’t coat your mouth too heavily but my word its tasty. The sweetness that I couldn’t put my finger on is displaying itself as an almost pineapple and peach mixture. I then get a wave of warming vanilla. The rum has a medium finish and ends with brown sugar and fruit. The glass, once empty, which happens far too quickly, displays the trademark leather and tobacco aromas and it is unbelievable. This rum is so easy to drink neat, I forgot to mix it with anything and continued to sip glass after glass, enjoying each one more than the last.
Tasting Notes – Ron Cubay Reserva Especial
In the glass: The rum is a deep mahogany brown and shows itself to be more viscous than the Anejo. It hits you straight away with dark brown sugar and an almost treacle sweetness. You can smell warm honey drenched peaches and a little spiciness. This all leaves a lasting vanilla above the glass when you leave it to sit. It smells like it has more going on than the Anejo in terms of complexity.
In the mouth: Instant warming sweetness envelops your mouth and it leads with treacle and a liquorice feel. Almost bonfire toffee. Not chewy in any way but like you’re about to enjoy fireworks! This gives way to a warm but not bitter oakiness and a little spicy vanilla. There is a little kick on the back of the tongue and it just lets you know that its there. It has quite a long vanilla and toffee finish. Its amazing what another 3 years in the barrel can do over and above the Anejo. It also benefits from the additional 2% abv that it has over the Anejo with the Reserva Especial weighing in at 40%.
So that pretty much sums up my experiences so far with Ron Cubay. It’s not as well-known ( in the UK ) as other Cuban Brands, but it has equally as much to offer and at the potential price point, could offer incredible value should demand lead to a presence with your favourite online retailer’s. I for one am sold on these rums, particularly the Anejo which I think it’s a very nice rum to sip at any time and now having tried the Reserva Especial to complete my tasting of the range, you can really tell that this is truly a family of rums and the Reserva Especial is that natural progression from the Anejo in terms of complexity and quality. It is my favourite rum in the range as far as sipping goes but there is something about the Anejo and its taste both neat and when mixed that makes me think that it could become the pouring rum in quite a few bars that are adventurous enough to break from the familiar.
If you are attending Rumfest this year, JBE Imports will be showcasing Ron Cubay and it should be available for purchase there. I wholeheartedly recommend that you grab a bottle of all 3 expressions because based on my experiences so far, you will not regret doing so.
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