The teams from Eminente Rum (Elodie and Thibaud), Confrérie du Rhum (Benoit and Jerry) and Excellence Rhum (Alexandre and Florent) meet at Roissy airport on a February Monday. Take a photo before boarding, with impatience and smiles then the plane takes off. The airbus lands around 8 p.m. local time at José Marti airport in Havana. Raul was waiting for them. Their first bar-restaurant is the Yarini Habana, with a beautiful terrace upstairs. They discover, they eat and they savor the moment, accompanied by Daiquiris and Old fashioned (on a Cuban ron basis of course!).
The next day, it’s time for departure for the distillery, in the center of the country, in Santa Clara. Three hours of travel on a highway that seems very wide. We see cars from the 1940s and 1950s, and agricultural crops as far as the eye can see, cane fields.
The welcome at the distillery is as warm as formal. César Marti, Eminente's Master Ronero, receives them with the various members of his team, including the cellar managers. Everyone introduces themselves and they are quickly taken to the cellars to taste the Eminente range, but not only...
They make tasting comparisons: pure molasses, molasses distilled at high degrees (light rum) and at lower degrees (aguardiente) to understand the basis of Cuban products before cask aging. Then they taste several versions of aguardiente, more or less old, at different degrees of alcohol. The fruity expressions stand out, they feel a Cuban typicality.
Then, Alexandre, Benoit, Florent and Jerry tasted blends of aguardientes, moreover, vintage and with exceptional abv levels for Cuban rums... To be continued!
Havana is an opportunity to see how much the culture of rum is linked to literature. Hemingway is a legend in Cuba, as are the establishments that hosted him: the Floridita for the Daiquiri and the Bodeguita del Medio for the Mojito. Very nice restaurants and magnificent bars like La Guarida, Chachacha or El Bleco sit alongside humble lodgings. Havana is a city full of contrasts, with proud inhabitants, heirs to a history, a city where one part of the world has crystallized in time and another looks fiercely towards the future.
During the trip, a stopover in Viñales was a must. It is a town of tobacco growers who work for the major cigar brands on the island (Partagas, Cohiba and many others). We feel the Latin terroir, another culture, an extraordinary know-how. From the selection of the leaf of the plant that will be used for the different parts of the cigar to its final assembly, including drying, the explanations scroll by and the culture speaks. It's delicate, meticulous, neat, passionate. The cigar is present in Cuban culture much more than the images of Epinal suggest. He is everywhere. The combination of rum and cigar is obvious, like a shift from our European standards.
This festival to which our travelers have been invited explains the link between the terroirs. The major brands of cigars and rums are represented. Speakers from all over the world are expected. A fascinating moment unfolds. This conference is organized in a huge room worthy of a National Assembly where the guests are invited to taste the spirits and the cigar while listening to the primer Maestro and his peers tell the ron, its history, its aromas and its virtues of complementarity with an exceptional cigar. A unique experience that can only be had in Cuba! The event ends with a masterclass by César Marti on the pairing between the Eminente range and a Partagas Series E No.2 cigar.