Havana Club Unión Launch

HAVANA CLUB UNIÓN LAUNCH SEES CUBAN RUM AND CIGARS PAIRED IN WORLD ‘FIRST’

Havana Club Union*Press Release*

Havana Club, the leading rum in the super-premium category, has announced the launch of Havana Club Unión, the first-ever rum made to perfectly match a Cuban cigar, the Cohiba Siglo VI. The new expression is the latest prestige product in the Havana Club Icónica Collection and will appeal to rum and cigar connoisseurs seeking to experience true Cuban culture.

Havana Club Unión joins two of the world’s most revered luxuries (Cuban rum and cigars) and their shared heritage and provenance. The launch marks a collaboration between two of the industries’ most passionate characters, Havana Club’s Maestro Ronero, Asbel Morales, and Cuba’s most renowned Cigar sommelier, Fernando Fernández. Together they have crafted the perfect blend of Cuban heritage, tradition and know-how. Asbel Morales has been inspired by the process of how tobacco leaves are aged, blended and matured, to create Havana Club Unión. By selecting small batches of rare rums that have been repeatedly aged and blended, Morales has created a prestige rum that beautifully marries the smooth and powerful flavour of the classic Cohiba Siglo VI cigar.

Havana Club Union BottleA premium cedar wooden box houses the expression, and features the logos of Havana Club and Cohiba together in an elegant combination of black and gold colours, bringing the luxury character of the expression to life. The bottle’s clean and round design is in line with the distinct shape of Havana Club’s award-winning Icónica Collection, which includes the brand’s most prestigious rums; Havana Club Selección de Maestros, Havana Club Añejo 15 Años and Havana Club Máximo Extra Añejo.

Jérôme Cottin-Bizzone, Managing Director of Havana Club International, comments: “This is a very exciting time for the ultra-premium rum category, and the launch of Havana Club Unión helps strengthen our position in the category.  Our Icónica Collection is now even more appealing, and we’re confident that consumers looking for quality extra-aged drinks with great authenticity will be drawn to Havana Club Unión”.

Asbel Morales, Maestro Ronero for Havana Club, comments: “Havana Club Unión and Cohiba cigars represent distinguished expressions from the same soil and authentic tradition; their shared origins and rich heritage make them natural partners. It was an honour to collaborate with Cigar Sommelier Fernando Fernández to create this prestige rum, which presents notes of sweet vanilla, chocolate and dried fruit flavours”.

Havana Club Unión has a 40% ABV and is a permanent addition to the brand’s Icónica Collection. The expression will be available in more than 15 countries, including Cuba, China, Peru, Germany and Mexico.

As the likelihood of us getting to try this Rum is pretty non-existent, we have included the producers official tasting notes below:

Tasting Notes:

Colour: Havana Club Unión distinguishes itself by an impressively deep amber glow as testimony to its long natural aging.

Nose: The rich aroma of the liquid balances oak and smoke with subtle tones of citrus, coconut, dried fruits and coffee.

Palate: Softly woody on the palate, Havana Club Unión is accented with sweet vanilla, chocolate and dried fruit flavours.

Finish: Rich and aromatic.

Perfect serve: Havana Club Union is best enjoyed by rum connoisseurs as a slow-sipping rum, neat or on the rocks. For the ultimate tasting experience, it is best paired with a Cohiba Siglo VI cigar.  

*End*    

The presentation looks wonderful and the pairing combination sounds like it will provide a great experience. We are big fans of Havana Club at Rum Diaries Blog and if miracles do indeed happen and we get to try this wonderful sounding Rum, and even the Rum and Cigar pairing experience, we’ll be sure to post our findings here!

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, both written and photographic without the express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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St Lucia Distillers 1931

We are back on the subject of St Lucia Distillers again for the third post in my mini series on the distillery. Again, to refresh yourselves on the background of St Lucia Distillers, Chairman’s Reserve and Admiral Rodney Extra Old St Lucia Rum please click on the links.

IMAG1558_1Now you’re all refreshed and in possession of the history of the distillery, we can talk about not one, not two, but three expressions of this celebratory Rum. 1931 by St Lucia Distillers. As you will have noted the first post on St Lucia Distillers, the Dennery Distillery in the Mabouya Valley was commissioned in 1931 by Denis Barnard on the site of his family plantation and Rum was produced there until the merger of the Dennery and Roseau Distilleries and subsequent formation of St Lucia Distillers in 1972. The St Lucia Distillers 1931 Limited Editions are produced using some of the finest aged stock at the distillery in commemoration of this date. Currently there are three editions. 1931 Edition 1 was released in 2011 to celebrate the 80 year anniversary and was the first Rum to qualify for the Deluxe Authentic Caribbean Rum Marque. 1931 Edition 2 was released in 2012 to celebrate the 81 year anniversary and also possesses the Deluxe ACR Marque. 1931 Edition 3 was released in 2013 to celebrate the 82 year anniversary and again, possesses the Deluxe ACR Marque. Quite unique in their own right being blends of varying ages, cask finishes and if rumour is to be believed with the imminent Edition 4, varying styles!

It makes sense then that a little information should follow about each edition, so here goes.

St Lucia Distillers 1931 Edition 1 – 43% abv. My bottle is number 5330, is from Batch 01 and was bottled on 17th May 2011.

This release celebrates the 80th Anniversary and is a blend of 9 casks containing distillates from their three Pot Stills (John Dore 1, John Dore 2 and Vendome) and their two column Coffey Still. These casks were judged to contain some of St Lucia Distillers finest Rums and their ages varied from casks laid down in 2004 to older distillates laid down in 1999. Of the 9 casks used, 7 were American White Oak (ex-bourbon) and two were Port Casks. The distillates were blended and then placed back into American White Oak for 3 months to allow them a period to marry prior to being bottled. To echo the methods in use in 1931, only light filtering was used prior to being bottled to preserve the blends integrity. No chill filtering took place. This Rum also has the honour of being the first Rum to qualify for the ACR Deluxe Marque.

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Tasting Notes

In the glass: The Rum is a beautiful burnished gold with hints of deep mahogany. Straight away the pot still element is massively evident, even before pouring. There is also a touch of smoke billowing out of the glass as the Rum settles. Raisins and dates are apparent as is a real nose tingling astringency. Molasses, toffee and vanilla also fight for your attention. That pear drop element from previous St Lucia Distillers releases is there too and it is rounded out by more smoke and the time that components of this Rum have spent in oak is very prominent as this accompanies the smoke. That astringent tingle is still there too.

In the mouth: Straight away you are struck by the medium / heavy body of the Rum. Again the pot still component hits you like a truck. There is nothing gentle about that element. Oak, those raisins and vanilla are very prominent. Further sips, especially when held in the mouth for slightly lengthy periods reveal grapes, orange oils and chocolate. The Rum is sweet initially, not overly so, and dries out nicely but not excessively. It is a warming Rum with peach, banana and smoke staying with you in the form of the vapours left in your mouth. The pot still really carries this Rum and introduces honey roast nuts too. The finish is medium / long and starts with pot still but it then runs the gamut of peach, vanilla, banana and finally finishes with a smoky leather. The oak is not as dominant as it is in the Admiral Rodney, but it is there.

St Lucia Distillers 1931 Edition 2 – 43% abv. My bottle is number 9652, is from Batch 02 and was bottled on 23rd July 2012.

This release celebrates the 81st Anniversary and is a blend of distillates laid down in 2004, 2005 and 2006 and includes casks containing 100% Coffey Still distillates matured in a combination of American White Oak and Port Casks, 100% Pot Still distillates from their three Pot Stills and 50/50 blends of Pot and Coffey Still distillates matured in American White Oak. The distillates were blended and then placed back into American White Oak for 3 months to allow them a period to marry prior to being bottled. Again, only light filtration was used.

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Tasting Notes

In the glass: Again the Rum is a gold with mahogany. Maybe a shade lighter than the first edition. Straight away it is the pot still that hits you with a toffee and butterscotch sweetness. There is none of the astringency of the first edition. Oak is also a factor though again, not as prominent. Dried banana chips, apple pieces and the smallest wisps of smoke are holding it all together. Hazelnuts, the slightest hint of raisins and a light bourbon cherry are present. This is a better experience on the nose than the first edition as that astringency doesn’t limit your time with your nose in the glass. Molasses and a light chocolate round the experience out along with that pot still component.

In the mouth: Pot still again leads from the front like a battle hardened bruiser of a man! The port effects are way more prominent on this Rum along with that drying oak taking the edge off the sweetness. This has a heavier body than the first edition (for me) and there is a big hit of molasses accompanied by a touch of chocolate. Vanilla and a touch of smoky oak are in there and the dried bananas are also in the mix, but I can’t find the apples that I had in the glass. The finish on this one is very long. It is all caramel, oak, pot still, a little chocolate, grape and vanilla and it dries to an oaky, tobacco and leather finish.

St Lucia Distillers 1931 Edition 3 – 43% abv. My bottle is number 11416, is from Batch 03A and was bottled on 28th July 2014.

This release celebrates the 82nd Anniversary and is a blend of distillates from the three Pot Stills and the two column Coffey Still. The casks that were chosen were judged to contain some of the finer Rums produced by St Lucia Distillers. The Coffey Still distillates were matured for 6 and 11 years and the John Dore Pot Still distillates were matured for 14 and 15 years. A blend of Vendome and John Dore Pot Still distillates aged for 10 years is also utilised. Additionally, a 7-year-old Port Cask matured Coffey Still distillate and a 7-year-old Port Cask matured John Dore Pot Still Distillate are used. Quite a collection which just displays the sheer amount of distillates available at the distillery. The distillates were blended and then placed back into American White Oak for 3 months to allow them a period to marry prior to being bottled. Once again as with the previous two editions, only light filtration was used.

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Tasting Notes

In the glass: The Rum is a dark gold with amber flashes. As is the common theme, that pot still punches you straight away but this time there is also something medicinal! It is very much like the flavour found in the Rockley Still Rums from Barbados. It sets it apart from the first two editions for me. Oak, vanilla, honey and more of that apparent port astringency from the first edition is back. The Rum feels creamy and has a tobacco and warming chocolate edge to it with that pot still underlining all of the other flavours.

In the mouth: The sweetness is the first thing that hits me on this one along with that medicinal Rockley Still element. Pear drops are back alongside some milk chocolate. There is something savoury on the back of my tongue when the Rum has gone. Almost buttery and salty. Red apples accompany the astringency along with grapes, red wine, oak and a little tart note. Again the finish is long and wrapped in port, vanilla and oak and it doesn’t dry as much as the others. The aftertaste is smoky oak and that medicinal note.

St Lucia Distillers 1931 Edition 1 and 2 blend – 43% abv. 25ml of each in a bottle and left to marry for a period of one week.

This is my own silliness and has been done to satisfy my own curiosity as a conversation with a nameless person at a nameless expo may (or may not) have revealed that a blend of the first two editions may (or may not) be the components of an exclusive release.

Tasting Notes

In the glass: The astringency of the first edition has been calmed. This is very mellow and has vanilla, molasses, bourbon cherry, chocolate and hazelnuts. It is also very creamy though somewhat dulled.

In the mouth: This is ridiculously smooth. None of the slight roughness of the individual components. Pot still is there but strangely it is not the dominant factor. Raisins, honey and oak are in there and the finish is a medium / long one full of oak, vanilla and pot still. Some of the individual stand out components of each of the two editions as individuals have been lost by blending. It is however smooth, warming and quite decadent. It will go down very easily and be a bit of a crowd pleaser but it’s just not as interesting as the individual Rums and therefore doesn’t hold your attention for as long.

Conclusion

As this is a comparison tasting of all three editions, unfortunately you clearly need all three of these Rums in your collection. They each represent how good St Lucia Distillers are at making the most of their individual components. They are all flavourful, interesting Rums in their own right and they offer a solid experience, especially when tasted together as you really do then appreciate how different they are but also how they have a shared heritage.

If I were to buy only one of the three editions though (or recommend a bottle to you), it just has to be the 1931 Edition 2. It has all of the good, but none of the astringency. To choose a runner-up is more difficult. I really like both of the other editions but I’m a sucker for that little bit of a medicinal note in a Rum so I’d put 1931 Edition 3 in second place but that is purely personal preference as I also love 1931 Edition 1. But of course, 1931 Edition 4 is due for a release, and that is rumoured to contain agricole from St Lucia Distillers own grown sugarcane so that will add a further element into the mix! Just know that whichever edition you pick up, you will have made an excellent choice and have a lot of enjoyment from the bottle. If you have experience of any of these releases, please share your opinions.

For the purposes of full disclosure, throughout the whole of this series, which is not sponsored in ANY way, I have personally purchased the entire Chairman’s Reserve Range (multiple times), Admiral Rodney (multiple times), 1931 Edition 1 and 1931 Edition 3. I was supplied with a third of an opened bottle by Emporia Brands (shared with Simon Difford I believe) of 1931 Edition 2. Each of the three Editions of 1931 will set you back between £55 and £65 each dependent upon where you pick them up from. 1931 Edition 1 is all but gone n the UK with no further supplies expected. What is on sale is all that there is. Supplies are still there of Edition 2 and 3. I seemingly purchased all but my favourite, so I guess I’ll have to go online shopping again!

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, both written and photographic without the express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Admiral Rodney

As a continuation of the mini-series of posts centering around the Rums produced at St Lucia Distillers, this article is all about Admiral Rodney Extra Old St Lucia Rum. I would suggest a quick read of the earlier article on Chairman’s Reserve Rums to give you an insight into the range of Rums produced by St Lucia Distillers

Now you’re back, we need to find our exactly who this Admiral Rodney chap is. Born on 13th February 1718 in Walton-on-Thames, George Brydges Rodney was a British Naval Officer. He is known for his commands in the American War of Independence and in particular, his victory over the French at the Battle of the Saints in 1782. He is also thought to have pioneered the tactic of ‘breaking the line’ which sees the British Navy with its superior firepower concentrate on specific parts of the enemy fleet, preferably the rear, to break down the enemy line as the centre will lose time by turning to support the rear. Moving on, in 1761, Admiral Rodney was elected MP for Penryn. Lord Anson then selected him to command the naval element on a planned amphibious attack on the lucrative and strategically important French colony of Martinique following a similar failed attack in 1759. The land forces were to be a combination of troops from numerous locations including Europe and additional reinforcements were sent from New York who were available following the Conquest of Canada in 1760. During 1761, Martinique was blockaded by Sir James Douglas to prevent supplies and reinforcements from reaching it. Within the first three months of 1762 Rodney had made serious movements towards capturing Martinique whilst both St Lucia and Grenada had surrendered to him and his squadron. Following the Treaty of Paris in 1763, part of the peace terms saw Martinique returned to the French. By the spring of 1782, the French fleet had its eyes fixed on the Caribbean sugar islands. Admiral Rodney was aware of their intentions as from his vantage point on St Lucia he saw the French fleet depart for Jamaica. He pursued and confronted the fleet on 12th April, beginning the Battle of the Saints. The two fleets were in line on opposing courses when a change in wind direction confused the French and gaps began to appear within their line. Spotting his opportunity, Admiral Rodney ordered his ships to turn 90 degrees and break the French line allowing the English guns on both sides to bombard the French with little chance of reprisal. As the French line could not be reformed, Admiral Rodney was victorious. Anyhow, that’s it for the history lesson…..

Admiral Rodney Extra Old St Lucia Rum – 40% abv

Admiral RodneyAdmiral Rodney is a blend of 100% column still Rums that have been aged in used bourbon barrels for an average of 12 years. The blend itself utilises Rums taken from a number of plate levels on the two column Coffey Still at St Lucia Distillers and will include RS 203 (Roseau Spirit 203) and RS 204 (Roseau Spirit 204) with their medium and high levels of congeners as mentioned in the previous article, but all Rums within the blend will have been chosen specifically to add to the complexity of Admiral Rodney. Apparently it is also the intention of St Lucia Distillers, as they gain more aged stock, to increase the average age of the blend to 15 years.

Tasting Notes

In the glass: The Rum is a dark coppery bronze in the glass and the initial aromas are of deep vanilla, oak, cherry and toffee. There is also a dryness to the aromas coming from the oak. Dried fruits like raisins, banana chips and apple pieces are also apparent and there is a spice tingle to the Rum. I can also smell pear spirit and bourbon. Longer time in the glass reveals leather and peanuts. I’m expecting a meaty, deep Rum….

In the mouth: There is an initial sweetness but that dries quite rapidly. The mouthfeel is not as thick as expected when comparing it to the nose as it has a medium body. There is a light caramel and plenty of oak followed with nutmeg on the tip of my tongue there is a peppery bite to the Rum. That dried banana, apple and those raisins and peanuts come back into play alongside light vanilla. The oak is really dominant on this Rum but it does allow a good balance between the sweet and dry. It just needs a little more punch. I think that I expected a little more from the flavours given the intensity of the aromas so my initial thoughts were slightly subdued due to what I found. (Note: I revisited my initial three nights with further visits to the bottle over week later). Given time, the pear spirit is more apparent along with a touch of smoke. The Rum feels sweeter, calmer, woodier and I am enjoying it a lot more on this occasion. The spices and wood are well-tempered by the spirit and it feels more complete and well-rounded. The finish is of a medium length and starts spicy but ends with oak and lots of banana. This is my second bottle (I inhaled the first a few year back prior to deciding to write about Rum) and I still believe that the aromas promise something really deep and heavy but the flavours lack some meat on their bones that maybe a little addition of a pot distilled Rum would add, but that may just be me. It is however one of the best examples out there of a very flavourful column spirit that offers a lot, gets better with repeated visits and continues the award-winning performance of Rums from St Lucia Distillers.

I’ve never tried this Rum in any way other than neat, no ice, no mixers. That’s just how I enjoy it, but the extent to which I enjoy it does seem to be mood dependent. It sits at around £43 a bottle (I paid slightly more for both of mine as I picked them up from a local independent shop) and it is in a crowded price bracket with some amazing Rums…..what should give you a level of comfort though is the fact that I’ve not tasted a bad Rum from St Lucia Distillers yet on my Rum journey…..and long may that continue. Again, I’d love to hear your experience with this Rum.

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, both written and photographic without the express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Gold of Mauritius

Gold Of MauritiusReaders and Subscribers will be more than aware that I have covered a few Rums from Mauritius previously, but this one is a little ‘different’ to say the least.

A chance meeting with Darius Burrows of Trilogy Beverage Brands gave me my first opportunity to taste Gold of Mauritius. Then whilst visiting the Boutique RumFest, we again got the opportunity to try the Rum and also to meet and talk to its creator, Frederic Bestel. It really is unlike anything that I have tasted previously, but first a little information on its creation.

Frederic buys in specific unaged Rums from local distillers on Mauritius and sets about his unique maturation process. He buys in used Port barrels from South Africa. These barrels arrive in Mauritius with Port residues still inside them and it is within these barrels that he ages the as yet unaged Rums. As a general rule the process takes approximately 12 months although this is barrel dependent. Some barrels have far less Port residue and therefore require the Rum to be in there for around 15 to 16 months, others far less.

Prior to bottling, around 10 to 14 barrels are selected, dependent upon how Frederic rates them in terms of maturation and flavour gained. Bear in mind that the wood used in South Africa for these barrels is not that great and if left in there too long, the Rum can develop an unwanted bitter taste. So Frederic takes these 10 to 14 barrels of Rum and blends them by hand to create the consistent flavour profile that he is looking for.

Given the high temperatures in Mauritius, cold filtration was initially employed by Frederic but now he has amended his methods to use normal paper filtration at 5 Microns. The colour and flavour come from the time spent in the barrels and the Port influence, although caramel colour is sometimes used to ensure consistency between batches as the specific barrels used can often give the Rum an Orange, Red or Brown appearance. The profile is one that Frederic believes gives him his own identity, and I’d have to agree. The wood influence is dialled down due to its bitterness and Frederic estimates that around 80% of the flavour profile is as a result of the Port influence with the other 20% as a result of the original unaged locally produced Rum.

Quite an insight into the methods used and all obtained directly from Frederic who has been very helpful since we first met. In this Rum, Frederic feels that he has a product that epitomises the essence of Mauritius. But how does it actually taste……

Gold of Mauritius – 40% abv

Gold of MauritiusIn the glass: The Rum is a dark mahogany brown / red and the initial aromas fight to jump out of the glass. Salted peanuts hit you in a big way along with chocolate and something that smells like sawdust! I would say that initially there is a bourbon like aroma to this Rum. Fresh figs, malt, cocoa beans and more of the salted peanuts round out the aromas. It has a really unique aroma, very inviting stuff, although it is not instantly Rum like.

In the mouth: There is an initial sweetness to the Rum alongside a peppery spice. Instant nutty flavours are present, like a good quality chocolate bar with salted peanuts. There is also a heavy hit of coffee. Subsequent visits to the glass reveal chocolate pudding minus the chewiness, malted chocolate milkshake and freshly cracked black pepper. The chocolate and salted nuts play a big part in this Rum for me and alongside the salted peanuts there is something like freshly shelled hazelnuts. Strangely there is also a little bit of an Anejo Tequila taste to the Rum, maybe from the base Rums used. The finish is medium length and full of coffee, dark chocolate, those coffee beans coated in chocolate, and salted peanut butter. A very flavourful Rum.

For want of a better phrase, this stuff is a little bit bonkers. It tastes like no Rum that I have ever tried before. It is almost not instantly recognisable as a Rum given its aromas. The chocolate I can only assume is as a result of the port residues in the barrels. Definitely a desert Rum as this will dominate your palate for a while in it’s silken salty chocolate goodness. I often first try Rums in a daiquiri, but this one? Not a chance. I used this Rum in a Rum Old Fashioned with a dash of Black Walnut Bitters and it did the trick. It is massively easy to drink and so far out of my usual range of flavours that I have become rather fond of it. You can buy it in the UK from Cellar Door Drinks for just shy of £40. I would say that it has the ability to (when used by someone who knows what they’re doing) be the basis of some pretty unique cocktails, maybe a boozy milkshake alongside a coffee liqueur, though I enjoy it neat. If you have any experience of the Rum, I’d love to get your thoughts.

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, both written and photographic without the express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.