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Spirit of the Week: Havana Club Rum Tributo 2016

Rum is finally getting the moment in the sunshine it deserves. Once the reserve of popular (read: mostly terrible) cocktails such as Mojitos and Daiquiris, the spirit’s premium, sipping expressions are finally beginning to receive some apposite recognition across the globe.

The first in a new limited-edition run of ultra-premium expressions, Havana Club Tributo 2016 pays homage to the know-how of Cuban rum masters, as a tribute to the best rum that Cuba has to offer. Joining The Iconica Collection, alongside Havana Club Selección de Maestros, Havana Club Añejo 15 Años, Havana Club Tributo and Havana Club Máximo Extra Añejo – Tributo 2016 is led by a base of rums aged in 80-year old casks. These are personally selected by Havana Club Maestro Ronero, Asbel Morales and blended with other rums to give an aromatic and intense taste.

With only 2500 bottles available, Havana Club Tributo 2016 is housed within a distinctive bottle with luxurious blue and gold cues, each inscribed with individual numbers and the signature of Maestro Ronero Asbel Morales. The shape of the bottle, itself, was designed by London-based Nude Brand Creation, inspired by the variety of architectural styles in Cuba, particularly focusing on Spanish baroque and neoclassical.

Speaking on Tributo 2016 Asbel Morales said:

Creating the Havana Club Tributo Collection is a fascinating process, as each release will provide a new and unique taste experience, achieved through experimentation with rum bases from our reserves. By blending rums using very old and rare casks, we have been able to create an expression for 2016 with a luxurious amber glow, full-bodied fruit flavours and a long aftertaste.”

When poured, the liquid is deep amber with a slight oiliness that sticks to the edges of the glass. On the nose, sweetness from the oak barrels’ natural vanillin character are immediately present, joined with typical notes of molasses and sugar cane. Elsewhere, Tributo 2016’s aroma is rich, complete with scents of dried tropical fruit, raisins and some lingering oak. On the palate, Tributo 2016 is exceptionally smooth, harbouring further vanilla and molasses, but isn’t excessively sweet or cloying like many premium rums. Instead, the full-bodied rum’s flavours are balanced with some tobacco leaf, mild grassy notes and final mocha coffee savours.

The rum’s long, silky finish then embodies the years of natural ageing from the old, rare white oak barrels. Easy drinking, complex and ineffably smooth – Havana Club Tributo 2016 is an outstanding sipping rum, best served neat or over ice, but never with syrupy red sap that pretends to have anything to do with strawberries.

Havana Club’s Iconica Collection is available from The Whisky Exchange, with Havana Club Tributo 2016 at £145, 70cl.

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