I was fortunate enough to have recently been asked if I’d like to try a small sample of the new Havana Club Tributo 2019. Not wanting to miss out on the opportunity I said yes. There is a little accompanying background information on the release that I’d like to give prior to my thoughts.
Havana Club Tributo 2019 marks the fourth iteration of this series of releases. The 2019 Havana Club Tributo release has been blended by three generations of Maestros del Ron Cubano. Don Jose Navarro, Maestro del Ron Cubano; Asbel Morales, Maestro del Ron Cubano; and Salome Aleman, the first and only female Maestra del Ron Cubano were tasked with selecting a rare and extra-aged Rum base representing their own style and laid down in the decade of their appointment to their position. 1970’s. 1990’s and 2010’s respectively. These base Rums, including and additional one that had been matured in rare Cognac casks were combined and then blended again with a Rum that has spent in excess of 25 years in French Oak. Presentation wise the Rum comes in a wooden box and each of the available 2500 bottles are individually numbered and will set you back €400.
So there you go. Some particularly old Rum sitting within this bottle, and quite a commanding price tag to go with it. But what does it taste like?
Havana Club Tributo 2019 – 40% abv – Modern Rum
Nose: The Rum is a very intense proposition. Quite heavy and dominant oak leads as expected for something with components of this age. There is a welcome astringent bite of French oak that really increases the pungency of the Rum in the glass. Dried fruit comes to the fore with particular emphasis on candied fruit peels accompanied by a burnt sugar. Dried apricots, flamed orange peel and a little fruit cake spice such as clove, nutmeg and cinnamon. It remains quite tannin led and its all the better for it. The trademark leather and the merest hint of cigar box are present but the French oak really lifts the nose on this above other Cuban Rums that I’ve tried and brings a lot more complexity to a style of Rum that I have grown a little disillusioned with.
Mouth: A sweeter entry than desired and this is accompanied by a far lighter mouthfeel than expected. Quite simplistic to begin with….Vanilla. Fruit cake with a brown sugar crust. A freshly opened bag of dried prunes. Lightly toasted almonds. Custard and buttery shortcrust pastry. In actual fact, the palate remains quite simplistic and is lacking the complexity hoped for. I expected more of that wonderful oak that was found on the extremely impressive nose, but sadly I’m left wanting. Sure there is oak, but nothing like the intense drying behemoth that I expected. I get the feeling that sweetening has been added to combat the effects of the extensive maturation, maybe even to assist in cigar pairing. Unfortunately this is dulling the experience rather a lot for me. The finish is a relatively lengthy one with fruit cake mix, mild oak and the trademark cigar box.
*Hydrometer Test Result – Label stated abv 40% – Measured abv 39% – 3.9 g/l additives*
The level of additives surprised me as it certainly felt like more (so much so that I ran the test three times), and I know that I’m not alone in this thinking. Higher abv would really help this bottling and if this could be presented at the 45% of their very enjoyable Selección de Maestros, that would’ve really assisted on the palate. The complexity of the nose is a delight to experience with its heavy, brooding oak, dried fruits, and the impact on the overall aroma that the French oak has had cannot be under emphasised….but sadly it does not carry through to the palate which a little dulled and lacklustre…hence the score. Could’ve been great, but my experience was found to be lacking.
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