Havana Club Seleccion de Maestros review

20160421_093854What is it? Molasses based rum from Cuba. It’s “triple aged” which I understand means that it’s the base juice that makes up the 7 year old (1), casks are then selected by hand from this stock, vatted and put into other casks to marry (2), at the point of maturity certain casks are selected and transferred to white oak casks for an undisclosed finishing period (3). There isn’t much detail on the cask types but from the way this rum behaves it seems like they were either new oak/virgin or 1st fill ex-bourbon casks (my guess only!).

As the casks are selected, married and selected again on merit there is no set aging period, as such there is no age statement for this rum. Sticking point: it says on the carton that it’s bottled “straight from the cask”, well that’s balls – there isn’t any way that the casks selected for the final bottling all match up to produce a rum at 45%, consistently, from batch to batch. It’s clearly diluted to a bottling strength of 45% abv. There also appears to be some colouring and a level of chill filtration, so it’s not “bottled straight from the cask” is it……

Coloured, filtered and bottled at 45% abv.

Sugar? From what I’ve found online, no, there isn’t any added. There is some sweetness to this, but it feels like it’s coming from the natural sugars in the casks used in the finishing process.

Nose: Very “rummy” and slightly grassy to start, then comes plenty (a shovel load) of caramel and some vanilla, fresh oak and some stone fruits (apricot/nectarine/peach). This reminds me of some younger high rye bourbons like Old Granddad. There are some cigar leaves, wooden boxes, cedar, and a touch of freshly brewed Colombian coffee. Woody spices such as nutmeg, cinnamon and clove appear but in quite a mellow manner.

Palate: Medium mouth-feel, spirity, semi-sweet (cask sugars). Quite a spicy delivery (that high rye bourbon again), caramel, toffee, vanillas, touch of leather, mixed nuts and some smoke/char. As with the nose there are some mild baking spices and a big squeeze of lime juice mid-palate – get’s really quite zesty and lively.

Finish: Medium. Quite drying, tart with green apples, apricots, limes and buzzing spicy oaks. There are some musty, dusty sacks (that’s good by the way), cigar smoke and plenty of caramel as it trails off with more spices prickling.

Thoughts? Good. It’s a good solid rum. There is plenty on offer, maybe a tad too much oak but it plays if off nicely with tart and zippy citrus and creamy fruit. I’m enjoying this rum and it’s very easy to sit and sip but also gives you a bit more if you want to go looking for some interest. The problem for me is the price; it’s £50 a bottle (as this is written), which is far too expensive for just “good”, and is competing with some other really outstanding rums at this price. As much as I like this I won’t be buying again at this price, not because it’s shit rum but because it’s over priced and there are others I’d rather have if I were spending the money. If this was £35-£40 a bottle I’d be going back time and again, but it’s not.

2 responses to “Havana Club Seleccion de Maestros review

  1. Hmmm. What would you recommend, Havana Seleccion de Maestros or Brugal 1888? I like the younger variants of both, the slightly drier, cigar-smokiness of Havana Club, the slightly briny character of Brugal… £10-£15 difference in price though. Which is the worthier receiver of my hard-earned £££?

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    • Both are quite different rums, whilst likely a similar age both have been treated different with the Brugal undergoing sherry finish and the Havana Club being (most likely) bourbon or virgin cask finished. Personally I’m not a huge fan of the musty notes of DomRep rums and find the Havana Club “better” for my tastes, but hey, it’s personal preference. Whether it’s worth the extra money is up for debate. I’d buy the Havana Club but if you like other versions of Brugal then you’re probably best to save the extra cash and get the 1888. Neither are stellar rums in their price bracket though to be honest.

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