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Bacardi's Havana Club


Ed Hamilton
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Oct 8, 2006 the Chicago Tribune published an article by Gary Marx about the Havana Club controversy. Despite the fact that I was quoted for the article, this is probably the most concise presentation of the Bacardi vs Pernod Ricard dispute I've read.

You'll have to register on the Chicago Tribune site to read the article, but it's free and you can unsubscribe after you read the article.

Edward Hamilton

Ministry of Rum.com

The Complete Guide to Rum

When I dream up a better job, I'll take it.

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[...] Angel Ribot, a town historian who spent 20 years working at the local distillery, said Santa Cruz's unique climate--the temperature, the sea breeze, the humidity and the quality of the soil--contributes to Havana Club's special flavor.[...]

In other words, terroir. (What would that translate to in Spanish?)

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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I'm not sure what Terrior would be in Spanish. But I don't buy much of the terrior claims in distilled spirits. It has much more to do with the style of spirits being produced in a geographic region. Especially considering those rums made from molasses, the source of the molasses is much more important. Sugar content of the molasses is directly dependent on the state of the sugar factory where the molasses is made. Ash content is also important but making rum according to the local taste is the only way for a distillery to survive.

Edward Hamilton

Ministry of Rum.com

The Complete Guide to Rum

When I dream up a better job, I'll take it.

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Just read the article. It states that you were comparing the Bacardi Havana Club with Pernod Ricard's Havana Club that is "aged 3 years". Does that mean you were using the Havana Club Anejo 3 Anos?

I thought the best comparison between the two would be to use PR HC Anejo Blanco?

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I'm not sure what Terrior would be in Spanish. But I don't buy much of the terrior claims in distilled spirits. It has much more to do with the style of spirits being produced in a geographic region. Especially considering those rums made from molasses, the source of the molasses is much more important. Sugar content of the molasses is directly dependent on the state of the sugar factory where the molasses is made. Ash content is also important but making rum according to the local taste is the only way for a distillery to survive.

I would agree.

I am relatively new to spirits but am an unrepentant oenophile of many years.

"Terroir" is a misunderstood and greatly abused concept.

It is all too often used to add some mystical qualities to a wine resulting in

higher prices.

In the article linked there is mention of "recipe" and therein lies the key.

How a Rum is made and aged is probably the major determination in how it will taste

not where the raw ingredients are from.

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Just read the article.  It states that you were comparing the Bacardi Havana Club with Pernod Ricard's Havana Club that is "aged 3 years".  Does that mean you were using the Havana Club Anejo 3 Anos?

I thought the best comparison between the two would be to use PR HC Anejo Blanco?

I was tasting the 3 year old Blanco rum from Havana Club, which is the most popular rum in the Cuban bars and the rum for which they are most famous. This is a white rum which has been aged and then filtered to remove most of the color gained from aging.

Edward Hamilton

Ministry of Rum.com

The Complete Guide to Rum

When I dream up a better job, I'll take it.

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"Terroir" is a misunderstood and greatly abused concept.

It is all too often used to add some mystical qualities to a wine resulting in

higher prices.

In the article linked there is mention of "recipe" and therein lies the key.

How a Rum is made and aged is probably the major determination in how it will taste

not where the raw ingredients are from.

Almost every writer who interviews me tries to get me to talk about the terrior of the sugar cane countries, and to date I haven't been quoted to my knowledge of saying that it is the particular soil that makes a difference. But, having said that, in Martinique only cane grown in certain areas, where their is good drainage for example, can the cane used to make AOC rhum agricole. But how the spirit is fermented, distilled, aged and diluted for bottling is much more important than what field it came from.

Edward Hamilton

Ministry of Rum.com

The Complete Guide to Rum

When I dream up a better job, I'll take it.

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"Terroir" is a misunderstood and greatly abused concept.

It is all too often used to add some mystical qualities to a wine resulting in

higher prices.

In the article linked there is mention of "recipe" and therein lies the key.

How a Rum is made and aged is probably the major determination in how it will taste

not where the raw ingredients are from.

Almost every writer who interviews me tries to get me to talk about the terrior of the sugar cane countries, and to date I haven't been quoted to my knowledge of saying that it is the particular soil that makes a difference. But, having said that, in Martinique only cane grown in certain areas, where their is good drainage for example, can the cane used to make AOC rhum agricole. But how the spirit is fermented, distilled, aged and diluted for bottling is much more important than what field it came from.

There's a raging debate (or a debate raging!) over terroir's impact on Scotch as well.

The press in general is pretty uneducated about concepts like terroir.

It is also a point of contention in the ongoing debate over old world and new world in wine styles today.

The current science based thinking in wine at the moment is that terroir in terms of drainage and sunshine as well as the soil's heat retention or reflection properties contributing to how a grape ripens is very important.

So your note about Martinique and rum makes a lot of sense.

How and to what degree a grape ripens does impact its flavor.

there are still a lot of folks who believe that somehow the soil or geology imparts specific flavors.

This is a bit of voodoo.

What is needed is some perspective on what terroir is and isn't and how it impacts agriculture.

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Take potatoes from sandy ground and some from clay ground. Cook them and than eat them. I am sure you will notice the difference between those 2. If not, you should see a docter.

Cane is not the same as a potato or grapes, true. But the soil and the climat are of an influence. Not big, but there is an influence. The same goes with wine. Nappa valley wine is different from the Bordeaux wines from France. If the soil/terroir is of no importance, they should be able to produce a Bordeau style wine in Nappa. Fact is, they can't.

Same for the Rum. You can not produce Australian Rum in Trinidad. I dare anyone to try it. The Japanese tried it with Whisky and after all these years they still taste differrent from the Scotch. Why? Many, many factors, but also the basic ingredient. This is not voodoo, but physics.

Of all things that have an influence on the taste in spirits, the soil is one of the smallest, if not "the smallest". Saying it is zero is wrong. Lets keep things in perspective.

The more information, the better.

Rene van Hoven

www.Rumpages.com

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