Havana Club 7
Review: Havana Club 7 Year Old Cuban Rum 83.5/100
a review By Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
In most of the world, Havana Club rum is associated with the brand owned by Pernod Richard who is currently embroiled in a battle with Bacardi over whom owns the rights to the Havana Club Trademark. Suffice it to say, if you buy Havana Club outside of the US, it is probably the Pernod Richard brand, and if you buy it within the borders of the US, it will be the Bacardi brand. In the end, after lots of lawyers have made a ton of money, the matter may finally be resolved…or not.
The subject of my review is Havana Club 7 Year Old. It is an authentic Cuban Rum. This rum (brand owned by Richard Pernod) has become widely available in markets outside of the US, including where I live in Alberta, Canada.
Sometimes when I take the first sip of new rum, I close my eyes; and I let the rum show me where it belongs. This rum brought me to an old tavern, close to the docks. The kind of place you see in old movies where the rum flows and stories get taller in the telling. The place has an oily, tobacco stained floor. Cigarette smoke drifts up to the ceiling mingling here and there with the occasional smell of a Cuban cigar. A girl sits on a boardwalk stage, singing slightly out of key, as the patrons in the tavern pay more attention to their stories than to her. A burly bartender, who looks like he can handle whatever trouble comes his way, wipes the sweat from his brow, and then with the same towel wipes the bar-top. He glances at me playing solitaire in the corner of the room and sipping the rum he served me. I had told him I would stay and pay him well if the rum was good. He served me a soft oily, smoky rum called Havana Club. I smile… the tip will be generous tonight.
In the Bottle: 4/5
The Havana Club 7 year old rum arrives in a tall slender brown bottle. The Havana Club label is bold and assertive with an eye catching style. This presentation is solid except for the pressed on screw cap. I have come around a little in recent months to the acceptance of plastic screw caps, but I still believe the pressed on metal caps are inferior. I have had too many which did not properly reseal my bottle. I am not a fan of plastic diffusers in the bottle top either. I was told that the purpose of the diffuser is so that bartenders cannot refill the bottle with an inferior spirit and then place it back on the shelf. My experience is that the diffuser just makes it harder for me to get my rum out of the bottle. I think that if a company can take the time to relabel a bottle in French and English for the Canadian market, they can take the time to eliminate the annoying diffusers for that same market as well. The last time I checked, there was not a huge problem with Canadian bartenders trying to refill there expensive bottles with inferior rum. Maybe I am misinformed.
In the Glass 8.5/10
I am a fan of long slender legs that move slowly and gracefully. This is exactly what I see in my glass after I give it a small swirl with the Havana Club rum. The side of the glass carries a lot of oil, and the rum is sure to have a long finish. The rum is a little darker perhaps than I was expecting. It has a look of richness that is very inviting.
The nose displays a moderate amount of smoke which seems to subdue the aroma from the glass to a certain extent. Over time, molasses, dark brown sugary baking spices, dried fruit (raisins and prunes) and a lurking tobacco all find their way out of the glass and into my nostrils. I would have scored this a little higher had the nose been more assertive.
In the Mouth 51/60
This is not a clean, crisp rum barreled in American oak and bottled with that smooth tinge of left over bourbon. This is a molasses filled rum with an unmistakable smoky character. The molasses carries a lot of sweetness forward into the smoke with prunes, raisins, and dates dancing in the wisps. Leathery tobacco crouches in the smoke adding a slightly bitter counter punch to the molasses sweetness.
Hot oak spices provide a bridge between the bitter and the sweet, but it is and odd union, with a certain metallic strangeness attached to the flavours that is hard to identify, but there nonetheless. The rum fits that tavern I described earlier. It is a rum for smoke filled rooms where men swap tall stories of adventure, or play solitaire depending upon their company and their mood.
In the Throat 12/15
The rum fills my throat with smoke and finishes with that odd lingering metallic taste. The sweetness from the molasses has become cloying, and the oak spice carries more odd flavours of grassy green tobacco and subtle hints of sulpher. Strangely, this is nicer than it sounds.
The Afterburn 8/10
I can see why this is a favoured rum on forums and chat rooms around the internet. It is dark and rich and carries a full round flavour profile compared to other rums in its price range. It has a soft oil and a tobacco richness. It is right at home in the taverns where the stories are tall and the air is thick . There are times when I really enjoy that particular style of ambiance and atmosphere. The next time I am in that mood, this will be the rum I sip.
If you are interested in comparing more scores, here is a link to my other published Rum Reviews.
2 Oz Cuban Rum
1 Oz Lime Juice
1 Tbsp Pineapple Juice
1 Tbsp Triple Sec
Build over Ice in a Mixing glass
Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass
Garnish with a chunk of pineapple
1 Oz Cuban Rum (Havana Club 7 Year old Rum)
3/4 oz Tia Maria
Hot Black Coffee
Sugar to taste
Top with Whipped Cream
Garnish with grated bittersweet Chocolate
I am going to point out that the cocktail photos were courtesy of Rum Connenction.
Enjoy! and please remember my aim is not to get you to drink more, it is to get you to drink better!
You may (loosely) interpret the scores as follows.
0-25 A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky. Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89 Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94 Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.
Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and Bronze medal scale as follows:
70 – 79.5 Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5 Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95 Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+ Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)