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  1. #1
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
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    I Have A Question About Havana Club Rum

    I thought Bruce, Cap'n Jimbo or another board member might know the answer, and I did check online and couldn't find a clear answer.

    Given the U.S.-Cuba trade embargo, what kind of barrels does Havana Club use for its rum? Clearly, it cannot buy ex-bourbon barrels direct from the U.S. Does it use another kind of wood, or does it purchase bourbon barrels after use to make rum or another spirit from a source outside the U.S.? I would not have thought there is a large supply of non-U.S. oak barrels on the market, so what do they do in Cuba?

    I buy occasionally the Anejo of Havana Club and I think I've had every rum in their line-up including the Maestro one.

    The Anejo is by far the best, a very good value here (Toronto) for $27.00. It is equal in quality to Four Roses Yellow Label, one of those really good spirits still priced relatively low.

    Gary

  2. #2
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    Re: I Have A Question About Havana Club Rum

    An excellent question and not one I thought to ask when I was at the main store and "museum" in Havana. Perhaps if anyone goes soon they can ask!

    Haven't seen any details to speak of online. I suspect they are mostly using third hand barrels purchased from some intermediary. Maybe it is Canadian whiskey barrels!

    To learn if the "Cap'n" has any thoughts on the matter, and he usually seems to, you may need to ask it on his forum.
    That yella whiskey runnin' down my throat like honey dew vine water and I took another slash…

    Nullum Gratuitum Prandium
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  3. #3
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    Re: I Have A Question About Havana Club Rum

    Don't think they can buy the barrels directly, at least at the present time, but there's no lack of used barrels in the market and Cuban producers do business with others who are not subject to embargo restrictions.
    We're Bourbon Geeks, it's who we are, it's what we do.

  4. #4
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    Re: I Have A Question About Havana Club Rum

    It occurred to me that Cuba has had a long standing relationship with Venezuela, also a pretty big rum producer, who under Chavez supplied them with most of their oil and gas. As far as I know that relationship has continued since Chavez's death (he got a lot of his medical care in Cuba). My trip to Cuba in the Spring of 2013 coincided with his death resulting in a lot of fear in the country, apparently unfounded, that they would lose their source for oil. Wouldn't surprise me if they sourced barrels from them too. No doubt other countries in the region could do the same thing as Squire notes.
    That yella whiskey runnin' down my throat like honey dew vine water and I took another slash…

    Nullum Gratuitum Prandium
    Ne Illegitimi Carborundum

  5. #5
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    Re: I Have A Question About Havana Club Rum

    Quote Originally Posted by squire View Post
    Don't think they can buy the barrels directly, at least at the present time, but there's no lack of used barrels in the market and Cuban producers do business with others who are not subject to embargo restrictions.
    True Squire, and thanks also to Bruce for your thoughts, but if they buy from other rum producers, they must be purchasing barrels used at least once to hold rum if not more times. One wonders if a third-hand barrel so to speak, and this would include ex-Canadian whisky barrels (which are ex-bourbon barrels to start with), would be any good to mature good rum. The Scots buy ex-bourbon but for first-fill, for example.

    Gary

  6. #6
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    Re: I Have A Question About Havana Club Rum

    Quote Originally Posted by tanstaafl2 View Post
    It occurred to me that Cuba has had a long standing relationship with Venezuela, also a pretty big rum producer, who under Chavez supplied them with most of their oil and gas. As far as I know that relationship has continued since Chavez's death (he got a lot of his medical care in Cuba). My trip to Cuba in the Spring of 2013 coincided with his death resulting in a lot of fear in the country, apparently unfounded, that they would lose their source for oil. Wouldn't surprise me if they sourced barrels from them too. No doubt other countries in the region could do the same thing as Squire notes.
    Where would Venezuela get them though? Does it trade with U.S.?

    Gary

  7. #7
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    Re: I Have A Question About Havana Club Rum

    Gary I was thinking there are so many small producers scattered around the Caribbean such as in the Dominican Republic, Martinique, Haiti and other places, not to mention the large producers in Guyana and Argentina, it seems like it would be simple enough for somebody to add a few extra thousand barrels here and there to their regular orders then flip 'em for a profit to the Cubans.
    We're Bourbon Geeks, it's who we are, it's what we do.

  8. #8
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    Re: I Have A Question About Havana Club Rum

    Quote Originally Posted by Gillman View Post
    Where would Venezuela get them though? Does it trade with U.S.?

    Gary
    Not aware of any trade major trade embargo with Venezuela, at least not like Cuba, even when Chavez was in power. With Chavez now gone it would be even more likely that trade is open. I would think rum producers are probably less concerned about barrel age. I seem to recall reading that El Dorado for example scrapes and rechar's at least some of the barrels that they use. But I have no first hand knowledge about whether Venezuela gets barrels from the US or gets them second hand.
    That yella whiskey runnin' down my throat like honey dew vine water and I took another slash…

    Nullum Gratuitum Prandium
    Ne Illegitimi Carborundum

  9. #9
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    Re: I Have A Question About Havana Club Rum

    There's quite a Cuban rum market in Spain so perhaps from there.

  10. #10
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    Re: I Have A Question About Havana Club Rum

    Thanks for all comments. The HC Anejo is very good, very soft and rich with a characteristic nutty taste. Of course this is just one rum from probably a 1000 or more in the general region. Still, I'm glad to have access to it, while understanding fully (and respecting) why the U.S. doesn't sell it.

    Gary

 

 

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