Rum Wars in Cuba

I am not sure Havana Club is quite as good, but the brand in the US thrives on the forbidden fruit thrill from the embargo. Will Trump reinstate it?
July 23, 2016

In taste test, which Havana Club rum will win?


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Does Cuba’s Havana Club rum hold up to its legend? The Washington Post invited four rum aficionados for a blind tasting of dark and light rums at Cubano’s restaurant in Silver Spring to find out. (Danielle Kunitz, Jorge Ribas/The Washington Post)

In a warehouse stacked with casks and suffused with aromas of old oak and intoxicating spirits, Asbel Morales is always thinking years ahead. At 48, he’s one of eight maestros roneros, or master rum-makers, on the island. They maintain the quality and tradition of Cuban rum — a staple of the economy and national identity that conjures summer daydreams of Ernest Hemingway knocking back daiquiris in art deco bars, while somewhere the Buena Vista Social Club band plays forever.

Morales splashes a clear liquid onto his hands. It’s potent aguardiente, the soul of rum, fermented and distilled from the molasses of Cuban sugar cane. He rubs his wet hands, assessing its viscosity. He waves scoopfuls of air toward his face, inhaling yeasty traces of cane, alcohol and subtler notes.

“If the aguardiente isn’t right,” he says, “even if you age it 100 years, the rum will never turn out well.”

But not just any Cuban rum. In three to seven years — sometimes longer, depending on the flavor Morales is going for — after filtering, aging and blending, this rum will be bottled as Havana Club, one of the two most storied brands in the history of Cuba.

The other is Bacardi, no longer made in Cuba since shortly after Fidel Castro’s revolution of 1959. For years, Bacardi and Havana Club rums were rival spirits, and their founding families — the Bacardis and the Arechabalas, respectively — were fierce competitors, until both clans were forced into exile in 1960.

The revolution didn’t end the rivalry. In time, a rum called Havana Club flowed out of Cuba and was eventually exported the world over — except to the United States. From a new base in Bermuda, Bacardi, too, went global, and Bacardi brand rum came to dominate the U.S. market.

Now, in a dramatic twist, another Havana Club is poised to make a big splash. After two decades of lawsuits, lobbying and congressional hearings, a Havana Club made by Bacardi is rolling out nationwide this summer and should be available in Washington by September.

It is not to be confused with the Havana Club made in Cuba by Morales and his colleagues.

Will the real Havana Club please fix us a daiquiri?

Within this splendidly bitter rum war — Havana Club vs. Havana Club — is a tale of geopolitical jousting that has more turns than a Cuban mambo. The drama is reaching a climax just as historic changes are taking place in the fraught relationship between the U.S. and Cuba.

At its emotional core, the rum war is a proxy for an even more epic struggle over the brand of Cuba and Cuban identity. The saga of revolution and exile has left unresolved issues. Are some claims on what it is to be Cuban more legitimate — more authentic — than others?

Americans embrace all things Cuban

Morales’s aguardiente has been ripening just fine for Havana Club International, a joint venture between Cuba Ron, the state-owned rum enterprise, and the French liquor giant Pernod Ricard. Sales have grown tenfold since the partnership began in the early 1990s. Cuban Havana Club is the No. 3 rum in the world, with sales of 4 million cases a year in more than 120 countries — and that is without access to the U.S. market, because of the trade embargo imposed in 1962.

The French and Cuban partners were buoyed by the stunning announcement nearly two years ago that President Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro resolved to normalize relations. Embassies re-opened, travel became easier. Then, earlier this year, the rum partners scored a surprise victory at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, where the U.S. government reversed a decade of opposition and allowed Cuba to renew its disputed trademark for Havana Club.

Still, Congress has not heeded Obama’s call to lift the embargo. For now, Cuban Havana Club reaches U.S. shores primarily in the luggage of travelers.

The French and Cuban partners say it’s only a matter of time before trade is allowed to resume and their Havana Club can flow freely across the land.

“We are ready to face this market, no matter what the date,” says André Leymat, director general of the Havana Club distillery.

The potential is huge — and not just because Americans drink about 40 percent of the world’s rum. Fascination with all things Cuban is intensifying with each small step toward a full embrace of the Cold War adversary. Americans are visiting in record numbers. Charter cruises have launched; direct commercial flights are coming shortly. American movies and TV shows — “Fast 8,” “Cuban Chrome” — are rushing to be produced there for the first time in half a century.

The appeal is bigger than any single product or experience. What’s for sale is the cachet of Cuba itself — once forbidden, now trendy. If only it could be bottled.

“For us, rum is not just merchandise; it’s also the expression of a culture,” rum master Morales says. “It’s something inherited from previous generations, passed down Cuban to Cuban for more than 150 years. You must never betray the rum.”

Bacardi International has sold its version of Havana Club in select markets. The label doesn’t mention Bacardi — but does list Puerto Rico. (Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)

A 1936 Bacardi advertisement evokes dazzle and glamour from an era where people visited Cuba for its cocktail culture. (Bacardi/Bacardi)

Clash of the liquor giants

It’s early June in the posh Faena Hotel in Miami Beach, where Bacardi is celebrating the national launch of a line of rums with the help of blue-feathered showgirls, salsa dancers and a 10-piece band playing Cuban classics.

The bash is meant to evoke what Bacardi calls the “golden age” of cocktails in Havana, in the middle of the last century, when Americans flocked to their favorite tropical sin city, until the revolution killed the party.

Waiters in guayaberas carry bottles of the rums — one clear, one amber — like icons on mirrored trays.

The name of the brand is printed in big letters on the labels:

“Havana Club.”

Almost as big is: “Puerto Rican Rum.”

Nowhere on the label is Bacardi cited.

The clear Añejo Blanco is a tweaked version of a white Havana Club that Bacardi has been selling in a handful of markets. The amber Añejo Clásico is new — or maybe old. Bacardi says both rums are based on a recipe the Arechabalas used to make Havana Club until 1960.

It’s a rival line of Havana Club for sure.

A “falsa Havana Club,” in the words of Morales.

But then, Bacardi’s lawyers call the Cuban Havana Club an “ersatz Havana Club.”

Which is the real Havana Club?

The question lies at the heart of this titanic showdown between the world’s fourth-largest spirits company (Bacardi) and the second-largest (Pernod Ricard).

Bacardi is the top rum-seller in the United States (7 million cases a year) and in the world (17 million cases). It has evolved into a global powerhouse in other spirits, too, with such brands as Grey Goose vodka and Bombay Sapphire gin.

Rum is a comparatively smaller part of Pernod Ricard’s lineup. Still, Havana Club is one of the company’s top 10 brands, behind the likes of Absolut Vodka and Jameson Irish Whiskey.

“For many years, Bacardi played the rum game with one brand, the brand that carried the name of the family, and that is ‘Bacardi,’ ” Fabio Di Giammarco, global vice president of rums for Bacardi, says. “We know we have consumers who are more and more interested in brands that deliver a story. We think this is a brand that has a very rich story.”

One of the names on the guest list at Bacardi’s Havana Club party in Miami Beach is part of that story: Arechabala. Some heirs of the rum-making family attended.

After the revolution, the Arechabalas let their American trademark for Havana Club lapse, and they drifted into other lines of work. The label on the Bacardi Havana Club sketches their story, a kind of counternarrative to the one Morales tells in his Cuban rum warehouse.

“Our family was disheartened after the forced exile from Cuba, and has always felt the need for justice for what happened to our ancestors,” José Arechabala, a great-grandson of the founder, says in a statement released by Bacardi. “We feel their life’s work continues to live on through this rebranding of Havana Club.”

Fidel Castro, at left, led the revolution that would pitch Cuba into isolation from the Western world. Rum operations were seized in the aftermath, and many families fled. (Associated Press)

A 1930s photo of the José́ Arechabala distilling columns in Cardenas, Cuba. (Bacardi)

‘From now on, I am Pepe’

In the beginning was Facundo Bacardi, who launched his company in 1862. Rum historians credit him with pioneering Cuban-style rum: lighter than other types, perfect for cocktails, but also aged and blended into fine sipping rums.

The Arechabala company, founded in 1878, and other Cuban rum-makers worked in the shadow of Bacardi.

Americans discovered Cuban rum when veterans of the Spanish-American War returned home. A plaque in the Army and Navy Club in Washington commemorates the moment in 1909 when, as the story goes, the daiquiri was introduced in the club’s bar after being invented in Daiquirí, Cuba.

American appreciation of Cuban rum deepened during Prohibition, when partyers made their way to the island to slake their thirst. Later, Hemingway wrote about El Floridita, the Havana bar where he refueled on daiquiris.

The Arechabalas introduced Havana Club with Americans in mind in 1934. The name of the Cuban capital was spelled in English, rather than the Spanish “Habana.” Soon Havana Club was served in places such as the Stork Club, a high-society night spot in Manhattan.

Bacardi executives initially supported Fidel Castro, according to journalist Tom Gjelten’s 2008 book “Bacardi and the Long Fight for Cuba.” They toasted brother Raúl Castro’s 1959 wedding to a revolutionary fighter who was the daughter of a Bacardi executive.

The Arechabalas, on the other hand, according to Gjelten, sympathized with dictator Fulgencio Batista, whom Fidel Castro overthrew.

Soldiers showed up at the Havana Club office on New Year’s Day 1960. The late Ramón Arechabala was a sales manager, while one of the top executives, his uncle José María Arechabala, or “Pepe,” was in Spain.

“From now on, I am Pepe, and you people will do as I say,” declared a military commander, as Ramón Arechabala recalled in court testimony in 1999.

“I say, ‘Okay, no problem, whatever you say,’ ” he testified, “because he was armed with a machine gun.”

The Bacardis’ Cuban rum operation was seized nine months later. Their company already had significant rum facilities abroad.

Ramón Arechabala, on the other hand, went on to sell cars in Miami.

In 1973, he realized that the Havana Club trademark was due for renewal. He asked his uncle whether they should file the paperwork.

His uncle said no. The family did not have enough money to produce rum in the U.S. and mistakenly believed they couldn’t renew the trademark without making rum.

“He told me we could not do anything right now with it, because, ‘Let’s wait because we might be going back to Cuba any moment,’ ” Arechabala testified.

In 1976, a state-owned Cuban enterprise secured the American trademark for Havana Club. It was a cunning yet hopeful investment in the day when Cuban rum might once again be poured on the other side of the Florida Straits.

The bat, logo of Bacardi, sits atop the art deco building once used as the company headquarters in Havana. (Reuters)

Artists have incorporated the Havana Club logo into their work as an element of Cuban identity. (Eliana Aponte/For The Washington Post)

Much depends on a U.S. trademark

The rum war was declared nearly 20 years later, when two things happened.

In 1993, news broke that Pernod Ricard had struck a deal to become equal partners in Havana Club. (Pernod Ricard declines to specify terms of the partnership. Fidel Castro has referred to it this way: “Long live the peasant-worker alliance and the friendship with Pernod Ricard!”)

In 1994, Bacardi filed its own application for the U.S. trademark for Havana Club. Bacardi paid the Arechabala family $1.25 million for any rights to Havana Club that the family still possessed, plus a portion of any sales of Havana Club.

Ever since, Bacardi and Pernod Ricard have battled on legal, regulatory, political and commercial fronts.

The Arechabalas “were free to maintain the trademark if they wanted to; they only had to pay a $25 fee,” says Ian FitzSimons, general counsel for Pernod Ricard. “The moment they abandoned the trademark in 1973, the trademark fell into the public domain.”

“At the end of the day, [Pernod Ricard] partnered with the Cuban government for property that is stolen,” says Rick Wilson, Bacardi’s senior vice president for external affairs. The law does not recognize trademark rights connected with confiscated Cuban property, he adds.

The American trademark was not stolen, FitzSimons counters, because “the Arechabalas were able to keep their trademark registration up until 1973, 13 years after the Cuban revolution. They chose not to take the necessary steps to keep it after that.”

Nor is Cuban Havana Club being made with seized Arechabala property, he says. The Cubans built a new distillery in the 1970s. Pernod Ricard added a state-of-the-art distillery in 2007, where Asbel Morales works.

Wilson argues that what matters in the law is intent and that the Arechabalas never intended to surrender their trademark. Over the years, they attempted to find partners with capital to make rum in the United States. Further, Wilson says, trademarks are founded on actual use, not mere paperwork.

“The only people to have used the Havana Club trademark in the United States have been Arechabala and Bacardi,” Wilson says.

Bacardi appeared to win the rum war in 2006, when the Cubans and Pernod Ricard were not allowed to renew the trademark. The reason: New rules required a license from the Treasury Department to write a check for the renewal fee of several hundred dollars. Treasury, on advice from the State Department, refused to grant the license.

The case was still pending in the trademark office early this year — though Bacardi disputes that the matter was truly alive — when the rum world turned upside down.

“In light of a number of factors, including … the landmark shift in U.S. policy toward bilateral relations with Cuba,” the State Department advised the Treasury Department to give the Cubans and Pernod Ricard permission to write the check to renew the trademark through 2026, a State Department official testified before a House subcommittee in February.

Now the dispute is back in U.S. District Court in Washington, where both sides are seeking a ruling on who owns Havana Club. The case could last well into 2017. Meanwhile, Bacardi’s Havana Club will be sold in the U.S.

If Bacardi prevails, the French-Cuban partnership has a backup plan. It has registered the name “Havanista.” Under one name or another, should the embargo be lifted, they will be the first to sell Americans a rum that is actually “made in Cuba.”

How much that matters is the last and perhaps most important front in the rum war. Authenticity is like another flavor note.

“It’s not just the juice,” says spirits writer Wayne Curtis, author of “And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails” (2006). “There’s a lot of money to be made in selling that Cuban story to Americans, who want to have that authentic brand.”

A couple settles in for a relaxing day at Megano Beach outside of Havana. (Eliana Aponte/For The Washington Post)

People linger at the Malecón, Havana’s sea wall, as the sun drops. (Eliana Aponte/For The Washington Post)

‘If I don’t drink Havana Club,
I’m not Cuban’

At sunset on the Malecón, Havana’s sea wall, Lazaro Rizo Modochi, 46, a cook, and his wife, Merlin Fernandez, 42, are strolling and sharing the remains of a bottle of Havana Club, accompanied by their twin 13-year-old daughters, Yaremi and Yaneisi. It’s a Saturday evening tradition for the family.

“Havana Club of Cuba is richness, it’s the sugar cane, it’s the African heritage of the cane-cutters — all that is Havana Club,” Rizosays. “If I’m in Italy or France and I drink Havana Club, I’m in Cuba. If I don’t drink Havana Club, I’m not Cuban.”

After Rizo takes his last swig, he kisses the bottle and throws it into the sea, toward the north.

“A message to Miami,” he says.

The logo is ubiquitous in Havana — on bicitaxis, on the tunics of parking lot attendants (“If you drink, don’t drive”), even in the paintings sold by street artists.

“When there’s an opening of the blockade, Havana Club will present to the United States a symbol of Cuba,” says Luis Rodriguez, a barman at the Bar San Juan in central Havana, where singer Beny Moré is said to have drunk Cuba libres before the revolution. “It represents traditional Cuban rum.”

Across a plaza from the cathedral, a plaque on what is now the Museum of Colonial Art notes that the 18th-century mansion used to be the offices of the Arechabala rum company. Graham Greene, in his novel “Our Man in Havana,” set a fateful checkers match here in the Havana Club bar, where free drinks were served to tourists in the hope they would buy bottles to take home.

Several blocks away, the majestic art deco Bacardi Building now contains travel offices, while its signature bat, wings spread, still presides atop the tower.

At El Floridita — where a statue of Hemingway occupies a spot at the end of the bar — the periodic arrival and departure of busloads of tourists give a tidal rhythm to midday, as a band plays hits from the Buena Vista Social Club. Veteran bartender Manuel Carbajo Aguiar grabs a bottle of Havana Club and raises his arm high in a showy pour of a silver stream into one of four blenders purring simultaneously. In a flash, he fills two dozen glasses with tangy-sweet and icy daiquiris.

“Havana Club has status,” Carbajo says. “If you’re relaxing with friends and on the table is a bottle of Havana Club, it gives the moment more personality than another rum … Havana Club is the rum that represents Cuban-ness.”

Two can play the authenticity game.

The labels on Bacardi’s Havana Club carry a picture of founder José Arechabala and the phrase “based on a recipe created in Cuba.”

The labels’ synopsis of the family’s story continues: “Decades later, this family of rum makers would be forced to flee during the Cuban Revolution, precious recipe in hand. After years of controversy, this well-kept treasure has been dusted off once again for crafting this incomparable rum in Puerto Rico.”

Bacardi does not claim to have resurrected the exact Arechabala Havana Club. The chain of knowledge from rum master to rum master was broken for too long. Certain ingredients are different. The technology is modern. A single recipe can yield a variety of flavors.

Still, the result is close, says David Cid, global ambassador of rum for Bacardi: “We are applying the Arechabalas’ techniques and methodologies along with our yeast with the aim of replicating the aroma and flavor balance of the original Havana Club.”

“What certainly cannot be said is that the other Havana Club has anything to do with the original,” Bacardi’s Di Giammarco says.

Indeed, the Cuban Havana Club was created after the revolution, though the bottles say “Fundada en 1878,” the year José Arechabala founded his rum company.

“The only Havana Club I know comes from Cuba,” says Jérôme Cottin-Bizonne, chief executive of Havana Club International, the Pernod Ricard-Cuban joint venture. “If the rum is not made in Cuba by a master of Cuban rum, if it’s not made with Cuban sugar cane, you can’t make the same product.”

But how does it taste?

The most recent skirmish in the rum war takes place on a Friday afternoon at Cubano’s restaurant in Silver Spring: Four experienced spirits tasters conduct a blind test at the invitation of The Washington Post.

It’s Havana Club vs. Havana Club: Bacardi’s Añejo Blanco and Añejo Clásico against the Cuban Añejo 3 Años (white) and Añejo 7 Años (dark). The Bacardi contenders cost about $20 and $22 for a 750-milliliter bottle, respectively. The Cuban rums sell for about $7 and $18 in Havana.

To confound the tasters, we throw in two more white rums — regular Bacardi Superior and premium Caña Brava by The 86 Co.

Amid the sounds of slurping and deep inhaling, the four Havana Clubs quickly distinguish themselves over the other two. Then things get interesting.

“I love the way that it decays on the palate,” says Lukas B. Smith, a bartender at Dram and Grain who is helping to launch the Cotton & Reed rum distillery planned for Washington. He’s tasting the Bacardi Añejo Clásico, though he doesn’t know it.

“It has this soft heat,” says M. Carrie Allan, spirits columnist for The Post.

“If you still have training wheels on” — if you’re not a sophisticated drinker — “you’re not going to like that,” says Jarad Slipp, estate director of RdV Vineyards in Delaplane, Va.

“I love it,” says Adolfo Mendez, owner of Cubano’s, who left Cuba just after the revolution when he was 3.

Then they try the Cuban Añejo 7 Años, again without knowing its identity.

“It’s definitely a crowd-pleaser,” Smith says, calling it “a mouth bomb.” “I think they might have overdone the sugar a little bit.”

All the tasters guess that this sweet, brash pleaser is by Bacardi, while the subtler, “handmade”-tasting rum is from Cuba.


“Wow!” they exclaim.

As for the white Havana Clubs, the tasters are divided. A couple find that the sweeter Cuban entry is richer and more flavorful than Bacardi’s. To others, the Cuban sweetness is a bid for mass appeal.

“Basically, these are both big fat sweet tourist rums,” Smith says of the Cuban Havana Clubs.

“There’s a reason why [the Bacardi Havana Clubs] are in a different label and not branded under Bacardi proper, which is that people who typically drink Bacardi wouldn’t get it,” Slipp says. “Good on [Cuban] Havana Club, because they’re going to be getting a lot more tourists now, and they’re making a tourist-driven product.”

“Maybe that’s part of the tradition,” Allan says. “One of the things that I thought was interesting here was the idea that ‘authenticity’ … doesn’t necessarily mean nuance, subtlety. Something that is authentic is not necessarily better out of the bottle.”

Mendez proposes a compromise. He places the bottle of Bacardi dark Havana Club and the bottle of Cuban light Havana Club together on the table — his two favorites.

“These two guys are inseparable,” he says. “I support them both.”

It’s a pleasant vision — perhaps inspired by the warmth of fine spirits — the idea of a reunited front of great Cuban rums. A Havana Club all-star team. But for now, in this rum war, you have to choose sides.

A Gentleman and a Distiller

Personal circumstances have led me to neglect Rumpundit, but Thierry’s death spurs me back to business and I will do more from now on.

I last met Thierry in New York at the Financial Times “Business of Rum” supplement launch. He was there, not because he was a huge financial player, but because all of us involved respected the quality that Barbancourt represented, not least because of the adversity of conditions in Haiti.

At the conference, I reminded him of what he had told me years before – and he had forgotten. Smiling, he told me in his soft French accent, “Ian, you know, Bacardi are very clevèr.”

“How?” I asked.

“If you look at zeir advertizements, they always want you to drink zeir rum with something else!” he said.

I have to say recent Bacardi products  from Facundo mean it is no longer true but it was a wonderful put down – that could be said of many other mass sale rums!




The man behind Haiti’s best-known export, Barbancourt rum, dead at 65

Rum moving up

Remy along with Campari/Appleton taking rum to premium heights.


Added 26 August 2015

BARBADOS’ DISTINCTION of being the birthplace of rum is about to be “leveraged” like never before. Fresh from acquiring Mount Gay Rum Refinery and Mount Gay Plantation in St Lucy for a combined $28.7 million, French alcoholic beverage company Remy Cointreau has sanctioned a plan that will see its Barbados subsidiary, Mount Gay Distilleries Limited, giving consumers a taste of the world’s first “luxury” rum in six to seven year’s time.
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It is a key part of a deliberate strategy – fashioned four years ago – to elevate the 312-year-old Mount Gay brand to premium and super premium status, thereby ensuring its survival and growth.
Detailing the strategy in an interview with BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY, Mount Gay Distilleries Limited managing director, Raphael Grisoni, revealed that the company would now be involved in producing its special new rum, which is targetting the high end market, from the field to the bottle.
Mount Gay has contracted the Barbados Agricultural Management Company (BAMC) to manage Mount Gay Plantation, and is working with the Sugar Cane Breeding Station and a team of “specialist” consultants, including agronomists, to produce its own “high quality” molasses for the “single estate rum”, Grisoni said.
“We made a deal with BAMC, so they are grinding for us and we are collecting the molasses from them, which is segregated, so it is really our molasses coming from our plantation. The rum produced will be something very high end, very expensive, because it will be very scarce and of course the growing super premium rum market is there so it will be beneficial, of course, for Barbados to have such positioning,” he said.
“It’s the early stage. We took over the plantation, we got the first harvest and our molasses. It’s not a common molasses, we have a special quality, so we are extracting less sugar from the cane so we have a better quality molasses, and we started our first distillation last month. So it’s really fresh and the product will go out in six to seven years.
“On the plantation, there is an old plantation house and an old windmill. So slowly we are going to refresh that and make it nice. Today, all of the plantation management is externalised with BAMC but with our guidelines. We are expecting them to manage our plantation by the book, we want an exceptional management and thanks to our consultant agronomist, we set up the standard on which we want the BAMC to operate,” he added.
Grisoni said the expectation was that in the end Mount Gay would have a product “that will deliver because of the quality of the cane, and because of the processes we are going to use will be unique”.
He said there was a market of affluent consumers who were “looking for unique, scarce, small batch products”, and the company was looking to capitalise on this in an international marketplace where no one was currently selling true luxury rum for between US$500 and US$1 000 a bottle, except the occasional special edition.
“It is really something unique and I think this is the way we should go forward. It was also a way to show we believe in the sugar industry. Purchasing a plantation is already a sign that we believe in this industry and we are willing to invest and it’s a significant investment. This is just the beginning. What I know is that overall luxury products are on the rise,” he asserted.
“There are more and more rich people who are demanding exclusive products and we have all the attributes to deliver those luxury products and we need to leverage our heritage. We were born more than 300 years ago in this area in St. Lucy. This is our story and it was logical to build on that and I am totally convinced that there is a consumer for that.
“It’s great but it’s also difficult for us because it’s new. Before, we were really only in the distillation, aging and blending. Now we are becoming farmers, so as you can imagine it’s quite complex. But thanks to God, we have great specialists on the island, we have great agronomists who are, of course, helping us in order to do it properly.”
– See more at:

FT Business of Rum Special Report with my article!


June 26, 2015 6:44 pm
Caribbean rum strategy wants more sip and not mix

Ian Williams

Although rum is a global drink, made across the tropics and drunk in all climate zones, its name shows its deep roots in the English-speaking Caribbean. It first appeared in Barbados in the mid-17th century, as “Rumbullion, alias Kill-Devil . . . made of sugar canes distilled, a hot, hellish and terrible liquor”. The pioneering distillers soon discovered that redistilling the first flow made it considerably less hellish.

In a further boost to palatability, the only way to export rum in quantity was in the oak casks that were the shipping containers of the day, and soon drinkers discovered that rum, above all spirits, benefits from ageing in oak.

By the turn of the 17th century Jamaica too had begun to make rum. It soon eclipsed Barbados in production and British West Indies rum dominated the world. To make rum, the colonists used molasses, the byproduct of sugar-refining. That gave the British an economic edge as well as rum expertise since, until the end of the 18th century, French and Spanish monarchs prohibited their colonies from producing any spirits that would rival their domestic industries.

Rum was appreciated in the heart of the empire as well. In 2011 an inventory of Earl Harewood’s cellars in England discovered bottles of Barbadian rum laid down in 1780. Once the encrusted cobwebs were polished off, Christie’s sold a dozen of the bottles for £78,255 in January 2014. It followed with 16 further bottles, raising another £135,713 last December. That gave bottles of aged dark rum a premium price of £11,162 each. It was a telling reminder that the fortunes of much of Britain’s landed gentry were in Caribbean plantations, sugar and rum — not to mention slavery.

The Royal Navy’s adoption of rum, usually Caribbean, as its restorative of choice certainly helped bulk sales, but a government-guaranteed market of millions of gallons of what one could call a “robust” rum might not have spurred premium quality. Although the Pussers brand, based on the Navy’s official formula, attracts devoted customers today it is open to debate whether the tradition or the liquor is the greatest attraction.

Even before the Harewood sale Anglo-Caribbean rum makers were rediscovering that premium, aged rums have a growing market that adds value for consumer and distiller alike. But brand-building is an expensive business, even more so with premium spirits that need decades of lead time to build and age stocks. Local Caribbean producers do not have the resources to build global markets. Nor is it enough to have a quality product, since makers have to tell discerning drinkers about it and supply the product in quantities that deliver economies of scale in a crowded market place.

Frank Ward of the West Indies Rum and Spirits Producers’ Association was prominent in the “Authentic Caribbean Rum” marque campaign, funded by EU “reparations” for ending trade preferences that had protected the Caribbean against Latin American competition. He notes that, with a few exceptions, the English-speaking Caribbean has concentrated on bulk rum production, selling their products to be bottled and branded by others. This surrenders the high, value-added ground to the bottlers.

The premium share of the market is expanding rapidly as drinkers treat aged rums as sipping spirits rather than as mixers for cocktails. Both Appleton Estate and Mount Gay, the market leaders in the region, have responded to this and adopted a similar strategy — maintaining high-prestige “flagship” rums and concentrating on premium blends of consistent age and quality and to some extent cutting adrift the local markets’ favourite cheaper brands. Significantly, Campari had taken over Appleton and Rémy Cointreau Mount Gay, so both had become part of large global companies with the resources to invest in production and marketing and the courage to risk upsetting local island consumers and build exports.
“Local Caribbean producers do not have the resources to build global markets”Tweet this quote

It appears that smaller brands, such as El Dorado or Angostura, will have to risk losing some of their local character. Deals with, and access to, the marketing resources of the leading spirits producers may well be what is required to make an impression on a waiting world.

Mr Ward believes the EU Caribbean rum programme did help smaller brands obtain more exposure. But he adds: “It takes years to build a brand of rum and the first programme [which] only ran 18 months helped some suppliers to diversify, but it has a long way to go”.

The smaller, yet distinguished brands from Antigua, Dominica, Grenada, St Lucia and St Vincent have appreciative consumers but find it difficult to secure distribution, particularly in the US liquor market whose structure is a hangover from Prohibition. If these brands cannot fill a container, they are at an immediate disadvantage. The “Authentic Caribbean Rum” marque did help publicise these smaller entrants, but Mr Ward says the campaign benefited all rums worldwide.

Nonetheless, the investment in premium brand-building by companies such as Rémy Cointreau and Campari is raising the prestige of the whole rum category, something that is sure to continue.

And Did Trelawney (Gold) Die?

“And did Trelawney die” was the song of the Western Men, whose defeated prisoners might well have ended up as indentured labour in Jamaica. Trelawney Gold did die, but who knows it might be coming back – in spirit at least! Rumpundit.

Husseys make another half-billion bet on Long Pond

Published: Sunday | April 3, 2011 2 Comments

A front view of the Long Pond Estate in Clark's Town, Trelawny. The factory has a history of being the largest employer in the community and used to produce the famed Trelawny Gold Rum.
A front view of the Long Pond Estate in Clark’s Town, Trelawny. The factory has a history of being the largest employer in the community and used to produce the famed Trelawny Gold Rum.

Mark Titus, Business Reporter

Hussey family, controlled Everglades Farms Limited is investing more than US$6 million (J$515 million) to modernise the Long Pond sugar estate that was shuttered after a disastrous start to its first year as a sugar manufacturer in the 2009-10 season.

Long Pond then churned 1,400 tonnes of sugar, easily the worst in the history of the plant.

Two years ago, Everglades acquired Long Pond in a package that includes the Hampden Estates, both located in Trelawny, but was forced to sit out the 2010-11 crop year after it was agreed that substantial work was needed in order to realise the potential capacity of the new assets.

“When we acquired the assets, it was in very bad condition, and we got no opportunity to see how it ran,” Outman Hussey, Everglade’s design and special projects manager, told Sunday Business in an interview on Wednesday.

“When we did take over, the first thing we saw that did not make sense was the oil usage,” said Hussey, a director of the company and professor of architecture at Howard University.

“You could not supply Bunker C oil by a tanker fast enough …”.

Hussey said Everglades relied on the evaluation of the engineers from SCJ Holdings to diagnose the problem and come up with the solution solution, but came to regret that decision.

“Records will show that we did everything that was recommended to be done and more, but when we started the factory the following season it was very apparent that it was not going to happen,” he said.

The Husseys, known mainly in tourism and horse-racing circles, brought in international experts and evaluators in the industry, and is now accepting bids for the engineering work to be done which will see Long Pond retrofitted to ensure that the factory can churn sugar cane throughout the season once commissioned.

The new crop year kicks off at around December.

“It is hard when you are used to doing business in a more private setting to come in a business that is constantly in the public domain, but we think we now have the right people in the right place to now do things the right way,” a more reserved Andrew Hussey, also a director, said.

This will include returning the boilers to the design specifications that they were made for, and eliminating the use of oil at the factory, relying totally on bagasse.

Everglades’ business plan goes beyond sugar production and calls for a diversified product: rum and tourism.

“In diversification, you have to look at what the region is, what the region has to offer, and what the resources are in terms of materials, lands, the people, and the skill level, and then you can determine the matrix,” Andrew said.

Tourism is a key part of the company’s plan, which details a tourism product that includes a rum museum for Hampden, a sugar cane museum for Clark’s Town, and tours of the great houses and sugar cane mills now being refurbished. Horses are also being bred on the properties.

The family said their entry into sugar was easy, as the senior Hussey, Laurie, had been a cane farmer years ago, supplying the Bernard Lodge factory in St Catherine.

“Our dad does not want to see land waste, and what that has done for us as the younger ones is help us to see empty land as not good,” said Andrew.

Everglades employs almost 40 persons on the estates’ farms where crops such as cabbage, lettuce, tomato, pak choi, sweet pepper, hot pepper, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, Irish potato, string beans, carrot, sweet corn, pumpkin, sweet potato, pineapple, cantaloupe, water melon, thyme, escallion, and onion are planted for the hospitality industry in Western Jamaica.

“In this model, you come to Everglades and there will be a number of different job opportunities, whether it is in rum, horses, sugar, or tours,” said Outman.

“Sugar is very important in the mix of our diversified products because we will need sugar more now than before, especially good, organic sugar. And that is why the cane farmers must know that they are a very important part of our plans going forward. We will need their cane to complement ours to produce the quality sugar we intend for a proper return on our investment,” he said.

The entire plan will be rolled out over a five to 10-year period. For now, the Husseys say the next milestone is packaging and marketing their own branded sugar.

The family says its sales of bulk rum to Europe are up 30 per cent since 2009, and they will be developing a warehouse for rum storage. They were unwilling to speak to the details of the project, however.

Hampden has launched a new spirit, Rum Fire, in partnership with Red Stripe Jamaica as its distributor. The Husseys hope to capture 20 per cent of the Jamaican rum market over time. The market is dominated by Wray and Nephew.

Both Hampden and Long Pond figured prominently during the heyday of sugar production in western Jamaica, and at one time, were chief sources of income for residents of Clark’s Town and other Trelawny communities.

However, in the last two decades, sugar hit a steady decline and the estates and their equipment aged.

At the turn of this decade – the 2000-01 crop – the two factories produced a combined 20,000 tonnes of the sweetener, 5,000 tonnes of which came from the smaller estate, Hampden.

The tonnage, quoted by itself, tells little, but consider that just three years before, in 1997, Hampden alone, which had the capacity for 15,000 tonnes, was churning out 12,000 tonnes of sugar.

Despite the availability of some 1,284 hectares of land for planting cane, only 676 hectares were put into cultivation for the 2000-01 crop.

The estate, which was teetering on the brink of financial ruin and had been rescued by the Government in the 1990s under the bailout programme for the financial sector, would later be placed in receivership.

Before that time, the estate was controlled by the Farquharson family.

The records show that during the 1997-2002 period, Hampden sustained losses of more than J$45 million.

Long Pond and other sugar assets were last in private ownership under a deal in 1993 that gave 51 per cent control to a Wray and Nephew-led consortium, that included Cliff Cameron’sManufacturers Investment Limited and Booker Tate Limited of the United Kingdom.

Each private partner held 17 per cent, whereas the Jamaican Government retained a minority 49 per cent.

The state would eventually re-acquire the SCJ after the consortium failed to turn the company into a money-maker.

Under the deal with Everglades, the new owners must maintain 60 per cent of the leased lands for sugar-cane production or related products for 15 years.

The deal covers the two factories and surrounding 40 hectares of land, plus an additional 7,100 hectares, which are leased for US$40 per hectare per annum for the first 10 years of the agreement.

For 2010-11, the company has planted 5,000 hectares of new cane, and will plant an additional 1,408 hectares of cane over the four years to follow, which is projected to yield 280,000 tonnes of cane in the next five years.

“This means businesses in the communities will see an increase in trade, taxis will have more passengers to carry, and there will be additional opportunities for employment,” said Outman.

“So in essence, we are mixing green infrastructure with traditional, infrastructure, and in that way, we are conducting a business while preserving the heritage.”

PR Rum Festival Good PR

Rum Festival – Rum Cited As Tourism And Economic Driver For Puerto Rico

Taste of Rum Festival Highlights Importance of Rum to Puerto Rico

Looking at the success of this past weekend’s 2011 Taste of Rum Festival in San Juan, one thing is obvious – rum is more than just a drink. It is also a tourism and economic driver for Puerto Rico.

The third annual Taste of Rum provided patrons with the opportunity to show local pride and celebrate Puerto Rico’s centuries old rum industry. As news of the festival has traveled beyond the Island, visitors from the mainland United States and throughout the Caribbean are now coming to San Juan to learn more about rum. The festival has become so popular that it was extended to two days this year.

“Our goal with the Taste of Rum festival is multi-faceted,” said Nicole J. Rodriguez, Director of Rums of Puerto Rico, the sponsor of the event and the umbrella marketing program for the collection of the world’s finest rums. “The festival started as a way to showcase all rums produced internationally. This year we’re highlighting only the finest rums in the word, Puerto Rican rums. The festival gives us the opportunity to show the impact that the rum industry has on our economy and promote rum tasting as an additional reason for rum fans to visit Puerto Rico on vacation.”

This year, the two-day event attracted 3,000 visitors, more than double the attendees in 2010. Approximately one-third of the attendees came from outside Puerto Rico. In addition to sampling rum drinks created by celebrity mixologists, visitors were able to enjoy foods, such as barbeque, created with rum, listen to local music, watch skilled flair tender (bottle juggling) competitions and participate in exclusive seminars to learn more about what makes Puerto Rico’s rums so special.

“Puerto Rico’s rum industry already provides more than 70 percent of the rum sold in the United States,” said Jose Ramon Perez-Riera, Puerto Rico’s Secretary of Economic Development and Commerce, which oversees Rums of Puerto Rico operations. “Rums continue to remain both a driver of the Puerto Rican economy and an ambassador for the Island. By adding a tourism component to the rums campaign, we hope to attract additional visitors to the Island and increase sales of our fine products”

“Our goal is to establish the Taste of Rum festival as the preeminent rum event in the world,” continued Rodriguez. “We want rum fans to think about coming to Puerto Rico in the same way that wine fans plan to travel to Napa Valley or scotch whiskey fans schedule a vacation in the United Kingdom. Taste of Rum is the backbone in this effort.”

This is the first festival held since the launch of the “Just Think, Puerto Rican Rum” campaign in February. The campaign underscores the award-winning attributes that make Puerto Rican rums stand out from their competitors. For example, the campaign reminds consumers about Puerto Rico’s centuries old tradition of rum making; the legally-mandated, one-year aging of certain rums in white oak barrels; and the Island’s commitment to excellence. The result: Puerto Rican rums, including Bacardi, Don Q, Ron Llave, Ron del Barrilito and Palo Viejo, are the finest rums in the world.

About Rums of Puerto Rico

Rums of Puerto Rico, a division of the Puerto Rico Industrial Development Company (PRIDCO), was created in 1948 to administrate the advertising and promotional programs that encourage the consumption of rum and protect its leadership in the United States market. The quality brands produced in Puerto Rico are aged at least one year by law. This sets the standard of excellence that includes only the finest rums and offers an extensive choice in the rum category including Bacardi, Don Q, Ron Llave, Ron del Barrilito and Palo Viejo, among others.

About The Puerto Rico Industrial Development Corporation (PRIDCO)

The Puerto Rico Industrial Development Company (PRIDCO) is a government-owned corporation dedicated to promoting Puerto Rico as an investment destination for companies and industries worldwide. Since its establishment in 1950, PRIDCO has led the efforts in the industrialization of the Island. PRIDCO continues to be a catalyst for Puerto Rico’s economic development, leading the transformation from a traditional industrial economy to an economy based on knowledge. PRIDCO emphasizes promoting high technology industries among sectors such as the life sciences, technology, computing and services that leverage on Puerto Rico’s unique combination of tax incentives, skilled workforce, strong infrastructure and excellent business climate.

Greg Stanko
Rums of Puerto Rico
web site

PR for PR!

Recovering from the desertion of Cap’n Morgan, PR Rums kick back! Rumpundit.

Rums of Puerto Rico Encourages Consumers to ‘Just Think, Puerto Rican Rum’

2011 Campaign to Remind Consumers of another way Puerto Rico Does it Better

Rums of Puerto Rico

February 23, 2011 3:17pm EST

NEW YORK, Feb. 23, 2011 — /PRNewswire/ — If you’ve got it, flaunt it! As part of the government of Puerto Rico’s efforts to remind the audience that Puerto Rico does it better and promote the quality products produced on the Island, Rums of Puerto Rico, the umbrella marketing organization for the collection of the world’s finest rums, today launched its 2011 campaign in New York City. The campaign underscores the award-winning attributes that make Puerto Rican rums stand out from their competitors. Consumers are encouraged to “Just Think, Puerto Rican Rum” when ordering a rum-based drink.

The campaign reminds consumers about Puerto Rico’s centuries old tradition of rum making; the legally-mandated, one-year aging of certain rums in white oak barrels; and the Island’s commitment to excellence. The result: Puerto Rican rums, including Bacardi, Don Q, Ron Llave, Ron del Barrilito and Palo Viejo, are the finest rums in the world.

“Puerto Rico’s rum industry provides more than 70 percent of the rum sold in the United States,” said Jose Ramon Perez-Riera, Puerto Rico’s Secretary of Economic Development and Commerce, which is the parent organization of Rums of Puerto Rico. “Rums continue to remain both an economic driver of the Puerto Rican economy and an economic ambassador for the Island.”

The $2 million marketing campaign will tell this story through print, digital and out-of-home messaging in New York, Washington, DC and Miami, and will be supported by public relations and social media efforts and an upgraded web site ( The campaign also will include a series of events and partnerships throughout the year, including a launch event at the Empire State Building featuring Food Network chef Claire Robinson and rum ambassadors from Puerto Rico and the extension of contracts for the exclusive Rums of Puerto Rico lounges and spaces at New York’s Madison Square Garden and Citi Field.

Nicole J. Rodriguez, Director of Rums of Puerto Rico, added that “one goal of the new campaign is to tie together all of Puerto Rico’s marketing efforts under a single theme: quality. Whether it is our beautiful beaches, friendly, bilingual workforce, or our superior rums, we want Americans to say the same thing when they think about Puerto Rico: “Puerto Rico equals quality.”

“Rum drinks are so much more than the ubiquitous rum and coke or your grandmother’s daiquiri,” said Claire Robinson, host of Food Network’s “Five Ingredient Fix.” “Because Puerto Rican rum mixes well with everything, you can use it to create new drinks or improve existing ones. For a spin on the classic cosmopolitan, try substituting Bacardi Limon or Don Q Limon for vodka and you will be delighted by the taste.”

The “Just Think, Puerto Rican Rum” tagline is tied to other Puerto Rico promotion efforts, including the Puerto Rican Tourism Company’s “Just Think, Puerto Rico” campaign, which launched last fall in New York City. Both campaigns also employ the green and black “Puerto Rico Does It Better” logo that is now appearing on all of the government’s promotional materials.

About Rums of Puerto Rico

Rums of Puerto Rico, a division of the Puerto Rico Industrial Development Company (PRIDCO), was created in 1948 to administrate the advertising and promotional programs that encourage the consumption of rum and protect its leadership in the United States market. The quality brands produced in Puerto Rico are aged at least one year by law. This sets the standard of excellence that includes only the finest rums and offers an extensive choice in the rum category including Bacardi, Don Q, Ron Llave, Ron del Barrilito and Palo Viejo, among others.

About The Puerto Rico Industrial Development Corporation (PRIDCO)

The Puerto Rico Industrial Development Company (PRIDCO) is a government-owned corporation dedicated to promoting Puerto Rico as an investment destination for companies and industries worldwide. Since its establishment in 1950, PRIDCO has led the efforts in the industrialization of the Island. PRIDCO continues to be a catalyst for Puerto Rico’s economic development, leading the transformation from a traditional industrial economy to an economy based on knowledge. PRIDCO emphasizes promoting high technology industries among sectors such as the life sciences, technology, computing and services that leverage on Puerto Rico’s unique combination of tax incentives, skilled workforce, strong infrastructure and excellent business climate.

SOURCE Rums of Puerto Rico

Cuban Rum at the Rough End

Some fascinating details in this article from a Cuban rummery… places that don’t usually allow such scrutiny! – Rumpundit

Puerto Principe Rum Has Its Bouquet

February 26, 2011 |

Por Lazaro Gonzalez

Puerto Principe Beverage Complex in the central Cuban province of Camaguey.

HAVANA TIMES, Feb. 26 — Well yes, it’s like what you’ve read: Camaguey resident Lina Estevez is one of the few Cubans allowed by her husband to come in their house with alcohol on her breath – of course there’s only a trace, it’s not like she’s drunk or anything.

She’s part of the quality control team at the Puerto Principe Beverage Complex, in the central Cuban city of Camaguey, 340 miles east of Havana. Lina has worked in this field for 20 years, and as a rum taster she admits, “I’m not addicted, because we don’t drink all day. A couple sips are all you need to evaluate the parameters.”

Ongoing demands in all the links of quality control in the production chain have allowed this factory to reach a solid position in its supply of the domestic market, to win prestige and to satisfy the sensory demands of people with elevated levels of “ethylic culture,” because in Cuba rum — like tobacco and baseball — holds a special place.

Despite their creating an old line of artisanal products and being paid low wages, the 87 workers at this refinery give all their efforts and experience each workday so that their rums and wines don’t “fade,” but that these continue conquering the palates of Cubans – the first market for what they produce.

The majority of the workers at this factory have been working there for more than 15 years, because “here something can always be ‘solved’,” admitted bottle labeller Ramona Garcia. (“Solving” is the word given by Cubans to theft or the diverting of resources in State-run factories, offices and businesses.)

A message in bottles

At any rate, Florencio Brown, an administrator connected to the beverage world for more than three decades, recognized strength in the stability of the work collective. “Each one of them has mastered their job perfectly. Their technological discipline facilitates the meeting of objectives. They were the true protagonists behind our work last year when, despite difficulties, we fulfilled our commercial production plan two months ahead of schedule, demonstrating a high rate of productivity in our work.”

Brown complained about the shortage of bottles that the operation suffered during the first trimester of 2010. “The Raw Materials Recovery Company of the province was unable to respond to our needs,” he affirmed. He added that the strategy consisted of taking a good part of the liter-and-a-half plastic containers out of production. Basically, this is “an alternative that will are continuing to follow because of the high demand.”

According to the administrator, this solution has allowed a monthly reduction in bulk quantities of rum, which is about 150,000 liters, thus minimizing the classic “baptism” or adulteration that is so common, as well as harmful to consumers.

The plan for tourism, which embraces seven products, floundered for several years also because of the lack of bottles, which had to be imported because they had to be new. Of the different varieties of Arecha and Puerto Principe rum conceived for tourism, barely a third of the 37,000 crates anticipated for 2010 were produced, said Brown. He also complained that the difficulties posed by the island’s dual currency and its effects on managerial accounting did not stimulate production. “Concretely speaking, to fulfill my plans I need to produce more for the domestic market.”

The Ministry of Domestic Commerce and the national network sale points undertake the marketing of their main product, which is Puerto Principe rum refined to 34 and 32 proof alcohol, both bottled in plastic containers and glass bottles.

The mystery of the bouquet

An almost mystic air floats through the storage area where different types of rum, aguardiente and wine are aged. Hundreds of Canadian and American white oak barrels contain the precious liquids in their paunches. From the wood they slowly absorb that delicious bouquet that will later give it a delightful taste.

Soraida Alvarez, a true master in this mysterious and millennial art, indicates that the total aging capacity in this refinery is almost a half million liters, of which 95 percent is dedicated to solera rums that are used as a base in the end products. These rums age for between six months and seven years, according to their uses. In the rest of the barrels is “El Tradicion,” a sweet wine made from raisins and that pays homage to its name.

Puerto Principe Drinks Complex in Camaguey.

Alcohol, aguardiente matured for a minimum of one year and alcoholized syrup are the three basic raw materials for the creation of rum base or solera, Brown explained. A third of this rum is employed in products for tourism, especially in the three-year-old rum.

Nevertheless, 70 percent of the Puerto Principe products are made with pre-processed rum coming essentially from the Cardenas Rum Refinery and the Central Villa Clara Rum Refinery, though they “don’t always arrive with the required quality,” the administrator pointed out.

“As soon as the raw material enters we begin carrying out a physical-chemical analysis as to the alcoholic grade, the total acidity and the ester content, which are of great importance in the bouquet of the base rums,” explained out Lina Estevez.

After 10 years of experience, Darvin Castrillon (an all-round operative whose comrades affectionately call the “doctor” of the filling machine, the position where he has spent the most time) staffs the most critical point on the production line, since this is where breakdowns tend to occur.

“Here the principal difficulties are related to the wearing down of the pistons, which are very old and force me to position the bottles to keep them from drawing in air. Once I was trying to re-position a bottle that had drawn in air and it exploded. That resulted in an injury that required two stitches in my finger,” he explained, emphasizing the importance of workplace safety.

“The hoses also create problems because they’re made out of a material that is very difficult to find. The rum stiffens them, so it’s necessary to cut the tips so that they don’t take in air and fill the bottles too quickly. The springs come apart, which leaves them shorter, requiring me to apply more force to the lever. This precarious technological state demands a lot from me. It’s exhausting work, but I’ve gotten used to it and I’ve learned how to innovate…to do more with less, something in which we Cubans are masters.”

Take Me To Cuba!

We keep talking at least I do about Rum and Tourism, looks like some people do it! Rumpundit.

Havana Club brings Latin spirit to UK travel retail

Published: 21/01/11

Source: ©The Moodie Report

By Matt Willey, Online Content Editor

UK. Rum brand Havana Club has launched its ‘Nothing Compares to Havana’ promotion across travel retail at UK airports this month. Throughout January, the spirit of the Cuban capital is being brought to life in Terminal 3 and T5 at London Heathrow and at Birmingham Airport.

Nothing Compares to Havana aims to highlight the informality, passion and generosity of Havana, which was captured in-store on 14 and 15 January with live Cuban music and salsa dancing at T5, said brand owner Pernod Ricard.

In addition, throughout January, brand ambassadors are sampling mojitos from the Havana Club Car bar at all three terminals, inviting consumers to learn how to make and taste the Cuban cocktail.

A Havana Club shopping bag is also being offered as a gwp with Havana Club 7yo and a Gilles Peterson New Cuba Sound CD with every purchase of Havana Club Añejo Reserva.

The spirit of the Cuban capital is being brought to life at London Heathrow and Birmingham airports as part of the month-long Havana Club campaign

To highlight the in-store activity, an invitation to the bar has been included on boarding cards that have been printed prior to arriving at London Heathrow. Passengers flying British Airways long-haul during January can also view a Nothing Compares to Havana 30-second TV advert during BBC World News from the on-demand service onboard.

Pernod Ricard Travel Retail Europe Marketing Director John Smailes said: “Nothing Compares to Havana is a refreshing campaign that reiterates Havana Club’s authentic Cuban heritage. We are thrilled the campaign is being launched to international travellers from the important UK market and believe the expressive and engaging theatre will drive trial, and the educational sampling will encourage people to trade up to the Havana Club premium range.”