Tributo 2018, Cuba’s First Rum with a Marked Smoked Feature

 

In the context of the 2018 Habanos Festival, Havana Club International S.A. will present Tributo 2018, the most recent rum of that company’s Iconic Collection. Barely some 2,500 bottles, each one numbered as pieces of a limited and exclusive edition, will be marketed in the world.

Compared to the collection’s previous alcoholic beverages, in Tributo 2018 the smoked flavor predominates, a result of a complex process of combinations and natural aging in the Havana Club warehouses inside white oak barrels, specifically of the San José rum factory.

All the rums of Havana Club Tributo, as its name indicates, pay a tribute. They distinguish traditions established in the knowledge of Cuban Rum Maestros, a Cultural Heritage of the Nation. The one from 2016 to the Rum Maestros; the one from 2017 to spirits made from sugarcane; and this one to aging, especially to the barrel. The natural aging is a more than 150-year-old practice.

Photo courtesy of Havana Club
Photo courtesy of Havana Club

Rum Maestro Asbel Morales, whose signature is stamped on the bottle, insists that it isn’t the work of a single man but rather a legacy passed on from generation to generation. The bottle is the color of the white oak, the raw material of the barrels that pay tribute to this spirit.

“It’s not a handwritten recipe,” he explained in an exclusive conversation with OnCuba, “it’s about finding an aroma, a flavor that forms part of a tradition. That’s the secret: in aging and combining; in the meticulous work that makes it possible to find a smell and an exceptional taste in which what’s very important in its making are the bases, the cellars, the barrels, the temperature, the humidity, the time of the year….”

Asbel Morales. Photo by Claudio Pelaez Sordo.
Asbel Morales. Photo by Claudio Pelaez Sordo.

Morales highlighted the sensorial attributes that, in his opinion, distinguish the third delivery of Havana Club Tributo. He referred to its deep amber color and aromatic capacity.

“In this edition we can find traces of the more than 40-year-old spirit that gave rise to this rum after many combinations and aging. It is a limited and at the same time unique edition, it will not be repeatable, nor will its process of combining and aging, turning it into an exclusive and balanced product. Tributo 2018 is especially a tribute to the white oak barrel. It is important that it be known that this white oak barrel was previously used by other producers of spirits, specifically of whisky. This barrel impregnates it with a smoked feature, whose origin we wanted to conserve, and it will be the spirit’s singularity. Tributo is the world’s first smoked rum.

Being a smoked rum, with which Habano do you think it combines the best?

In a world of aromas and flavors it’s not easy to impose something, it all depends on the consumer’s taste. One combines it with what one prefers to explore the sensations born of the combination of tobacco and rum and, as I always say: there’s no accounting for taste and the same goes for cigars and rums.

The Havana Club rums and the Habanos represent distinguished expressions of the same land, of authentic traditions. Their shared origins and the wealth of their histories turn them into natural allies. The relations between both companies have always flowed naturally.

We no longer create a rum without thinking of which vitola it will combine with. It was Havana Club Unión that most reflected that feeling, when we made a specific rum for a cigar and that brought us closer to the wisdom of the Habano and of the Habano sommelier maestros. In the case of Tributo 2018 since it is a smoked rum we accepted the challenge and started searching for its ideal vitolas. We concluded that we can accompany it with a Partagás Corona Gorda and a 2016 Limited Edition Montecristo. This persistent rum can be fully enjoyed with both, or in many other ways, also smelling the aroma left on the glass cup.

Photo courtesy of Havana Club
Photo courtesy of Havana Club

When can we say there’s been a good combination of both products?

There is no relation when there is no combination. If we go back to the etymology of the word, combination means union, marriage. When you achieve it, those involved are balanced, and are capable of feeling one’s relation to the other. If you light the Habano and smoke when tasting the rum, the balance between both reaches a level that makes you again go to the cigar, and when you are with the latter it makes you return to the rum. If one of them goes beyond the other, then such a relation doesn’t exist.

With the vitolas recommended for Tributo 2018 this is achieved because both are going to show an aroma and a flavor that when you take them to your lips will be related so well that the desire will always remain to get to the first and the second. They complement and need each other because they share the same features, the same identity.

What will the ritual be to combine with Tributo 2018?

This is a world that always has surprises in store. When we made the Unión rum, whose perfect combination is with the Cohiba Siglo VI, we realized that the combination is a veritable ritual. In this case it is perfect to first light a cigar and then to serve the rum.

However, with Tributo 2018 something curious happens – it’s not the cigar that is first lit. The first step is to taste the rum and then light the cigar. That’s why the combination doesn’t have a set rule. You take it to your lips and you perceive the unprecedented sensation of the smoked, then you combine it with the cigar and you feel they are balanced in a different way. When you smoke the cigar first and later drink the rum, you realize that you’re missing something. With this ritual it’s the other way around. It is fascinating, there’s always something to discover in this universe of aromas and flavors.

“Each product of the Iconic Collection has its own history, and in it Tributo holds a very special place because it aims to show the wealth and versatility of Cuban rum and of our Havana Club cellars in particular – showing the world that our rum can be extremely fine, with a great cultural value. That’s why its editions are limited, we want connoisseurs of aged spirits to add to their collection this new authentic Cuban rum,” concluded the Cuban Rum Maestro.

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