When an established and well known rum company like Bacardi releases a rum line that shares the name of an established global brand you know there is more to the story. Havana Club Añejo Blanco was released to the U.S. market in 2016 and is reported in the press documents to be based on a recipe that the Arechabala family used in 1934 to create the original Cuban Havana Club product until their rum company was nationalized by Fidel Castro’s regime in 1960. When the family fled Cuba and went into exile, they took the formula with them.
What we see on the shelves in the United States is Bacardi’s rendition of that product after they purchased the recipe from the Arechabala family in 1994. In my opinion, this is one more salvo in their ongoing battle with the Cuban government and Pernod Ricard in their decades spanning trademark war.
The rum in the bottle is distilled in Puerto Rico and aged for one year in used American white oak Bourbon barrels. It is blended and aged in oak for an additional two months before being filtered and bottled at 40% ABV.
The bottle has a black and silver label with bold text that can easily be spotted on the shelves. The liquid is crystal clear in the bottle and glass, showing the level of filtration we are used to seeing with all Bacardi products.
The aroma of the rum leads with turbinado sugar, vanilla, with a touch of citrus before the alcohol note dominates the profile.
Sipping the rum delivers a swirl of sugary vanilla, pineapple, raisins and lime notes. As these settle some light mineral notes of salt, sulfur laced char, and raw alcohol take over and meld with the other flavors in a long finish.
The notes in the rum are combative when sipping neat, but proved serviceable and docile in both a Cuba Libre and Daiquiri Cocktails. Found only in the United States as it would be in violation of the Global Trademark of the Cuban Havana Club product; this rum comes up short compared to Bacardi select, the next closest product in the Bacardi portfolio.
For me the purchase and exploration of this product was one born of curiosity and now that the work has been done really have no interest in revisiting it as there are better products in the market with which to make cocktails.