In honor of Cuba’s sudden relevancy (due to President Obama’s recent visit), we’re taking a moment to highlight one of the country’s most coveted yet elusive delicacies: rum. The Caribbean is known for its authentic rums, dating back hundreds of years to the time of pirates and colonial sailors. Recipes have evolved over the years, and today there are several Meccas of rum spread throughout the Caribbean. Cuba is one of those Meccas.
While trade embargoes have made it practically impossible to import this liquid gold to the states, our recent rekindled friendship with the country has made it slightly easier. Now, if you visit the country, you’re allowed to bring back up to $100 USD worth of products. So, if you’re planning on following in the Obamas’ footsteps and head south, here’s what you need to know.
1. Rums can vary in quality, and even more in price. Havana Club Rum can range anywhere from $30 a bottle to over $200.
2. Havana Club is definitely the most popular Cuban rum, but it isn’t the only one. Ron Santiago de Cuba and Ron Varadero are also great quality Cuban rums.
3. There’s a complicated political backstory to Havana Club. Back in the 1950’s, Cuba’s communist government seized the Havana Club distillery from its owners and partnered with the French company Pernod Ricard to continue manufacturing. At the same time, Bacardi purchased the American “Havana Club” trademark and began producing rum under this name in Puerto Rico, which has been available for purchase in 5 states. However, the Cuban Havana Club is not available anywhere in the US. So, long story short, if you come across Havana Club in the states, be weary of where it was produced.