Review: Havana Club Selección de Maestros (2018 Limited Release)

Havana Club is the “big” Cuban rum brand, so that’s where I wanted to start with my journey to try some Cuban rums. Havana Club was originally produced by the Arechbala family in Cuba, but was expropriated by the government after the Cuban Revolution. The Havana Club I’m writing about today is the one marketed globally by Pernod Ricard as part of a joint venture with the Cuban Government. Bacardi markets a Puerto Rican-made rum called “Havana Club” in the USA, which came about as part of their long war on Cuba, and isn’t particularly noteworthy for its taste.

Since I’m fancy, I decided to then start my Havana Club journey with the Selección de Maestros rum, which is at the top end of their range, although they do have very fancy bottles for more money. I’ll get into the mainline Havana Club 3 Year and Havana Club 7 Year at some point in the future.

This rum is, quite unusually, “triple” barrel aged. The typical Cuban rum goes through two cycles of barrel aging – one is needed to transform the “aguardiente” into “rum,” and the second round of barrel aging is where the age statement starts counting up. After the second round of barrel aging, members of the Maestros Roneros Guild of Cuba select rums that will then be put into white oak barrels and aged for a third time. What we have here is the 2018 output of that process. This rum is bottled at 45% ABV, a good level for sipping, which is what it’s intended for. 

Alright, tasting time. The nose is mellow, with some light caramel and a small amount of astringency. Taking a sip, this rum has some spicy notes (in the “hot” sense) – which is not what I expected. Again, it’s mellow, with a bit of tobacco and a malty aftertaste. It’s tremendously smooth, and definitely feels like a premium product.

It’s a bit pricy, but the Havana Club Selección de Maestros compares favorably to more difficult to obtain bottles (such as my current favorite, the Samaroli Caribbean). This has made it one of my go to rums for sipping. I highly recommend picking this up if you get the chance (they should have it in most countries outside the US).