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Havana Club: More Than Just A Rum  

Although many of us most certainly indulge ourselves (responsibly), in the full bodied oaky delights that rum has in abundance, we rarely spare a thought for its origins. The etymology of the word itself might be nebulous, but there’s no mistaking that the best rums in the world come from the Caribbean, more specifically, Havana. Despite Cuba’s Caribbean cousins perhaps stealing the spotlight from time to time, Havana Club is a truly distinctive brand in almost every way, that is little surprise when you realise that Cuba itself; is one of the most unique places in the world. When we think of Cuba, our minds will likely recall some rudimentary facts we have of the country, like the Bay of Pigs, Fidel Castro, Communism and of course Che Guevara.  But once you’re there on the ground, you realise what a special place it really is.

Whatever your political ideologies may be, its difficult to argue against the free education (that includes university), free healthcare (Cuba is home to some of the best doctors in the world), and the fact that you’re not constantly bombarded with corporate advertising everywhere you go. It certainly gives those of us deeply embedded in the capitalist matrix serious pause, when we’re exposed to a completely different, refreshing way of life.

Cuba has been beautifully frozen in time, in a way that transcends the architecture and the infrastructure, old ways of living are still revered and practised. This same ethos is integral to the way Havana Club is made, it’s still true to centuries old ways of doing things, unsullied by the modernism that has permeated our lives. When you find yourself strolling through the streets lined by exotic flora and fauna, you might spot the odd Havana Club logo etched or graffitied onto a wall. This is not a corporate attempt at being authentic, or edgy, local creatives often do their own impressions of the iconic logo, as it’s a great source of national pride, not something many (if any) other brands can boast. Thats not just because its one of the countries biggest exports, it’s because everything about the way Havana Club is made is authentically Cuban. The entire process (apart from the barrels which are imported), of making the rum is done on Cuban soil; everything about the rum is shaped by Cuba and its people.

Four specific people have more power than most though, the flavour and the taste of Havana Club is ultimately decided by four Maestros who have perfected the craft and ultimately aim to create a rum that is representative of the people and the rich cultural history that Cuba is famous for. This is their life’s work, and each Maestro is required to do a minimum of 15 years training before even being considered for this prestigious position. Traditional techniques and methods are championed, and passed down from generation to generation, a refreshing take in a world that is increasingly relying on machines, or AI to do the work.

It’s little surprise then that one of the behemoths of our scene, Skepta, famously collaborated with Havana Club. What is at the heart of the Havana Club’s ethos, is something that would resonate deeply with Skep. The ingenuity and tenacity required to make the rum a success despite the American trade embargo, is certainly reminiscent of Skep’s own battles with the industry, and of course maintaining authenticity is also one of the most deeply rooted tenets of grime. It’s a collaboration that made sense, and felt natural, two guiding principles in all of Havana Club’s continuing successes thus far.

Award winning rum aside, Havana Club wants to continue to push and engender the ingenuity and creativity that made them so successful to the wider sectors of the industry, and so the Party Makers initiative was born. Party Makers is focused on highlighting some of the great range of talent from across the globe, that have continued to provide new and exciting events adding to the rich texture that makes nightlife so vibrant. Obviously lockdown and the global pandemic decimated large swathes of this industry, and made us realise how important these sectors are to our mental well being. This only further cements the importance of Havana Club’s work in this space, and another reminder that Havana Club is more than just a rum.