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HC Barrel Proof Review

Long a staple at duty free shops worldwide and a favorite of the Rum Connection team, Havana Club Cuban Barrel Proof Rum gets the once over.

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Picture 3HC Cuban Barrel Proof Review

By Chip Dykstra

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Havana Club Cuban Barrel Proof Rum   95/100

Havana Club Cuban Barrel Proof Rum is an authentic Cuban rum that has become widely available in most markets over the last several years.  Unfortunately, due to severe restrictions on Cuban goods, it remains absent from the American market.

In the Bottle:  4.5/5

The bottle is packaged in a very attractive beige cardboard box with the bold blue and red Havana Club logo on the front.  The box states that the rum is first aged in Extra Old white oak, and then the final blend is finished in special ‘selected’ finish casks.  I have heard of this ‘Double Barrel’ approach with whisky, but this is first time I have read of the approach used to finish an aged rum.  And I believe it is very unusual to choose young oak for the finishing, and older ‘used’ oak for the initial aging.  A quick check of the Havana Club website expands on this information and peaks my interest. The bottle itself is very attractively labelled, but I am disappointed in the screw cap.  I prefer nice dense cork toppers.

In the Glass:  9.5/10

The rum has a lighter color than I was expecting and a mild reddish tinge.  As I poured the rum into my glencairn glass my nose was immediately swatted with a sweet toffee updraft.  Hints of cinnamon spice compliment the aroma, and I am very pleased with the complete lack of any charred or burnt notes.  This is intense, sweet and clean.  I let the drink sit for just a moment, and a pleasant liquorice aroma reminiscent of Sambuca enters the fray.  I even catch just a smidgen of raw oak sitting at the very back of the nose.  This is marvellous.

In the Mouth: 58/60

Toffee!!  Old style Macintosh toffee.  Remember that stuff from 15 years ago in the red cardboard box.  You had to smack it on the table to break it.  I taste that old style toffee….Yumm!  Cinnamon too…  just a tad, just enough to give the rum a little heat.  This is so good!  Deep in the back of the palate there is a little spicy port wine cigar smoke, and finally traces of oak tannin.  Over the top of all of these flavours is a sweet rum molasses.  This is complex, yet almost perfectly balanced,   one of the finest flavour profiles I have ever experienced. It is hard to let the rum sit in my mouth, I just want to feel it slide down my throat.

In the Throat:  14/15

A silky smooth follow through leaves the mouth heated, and the throat coated with a very gentle oil.  In the throat I feel a nice little bit of that spicy port cigar.  The toffee and cinnamon flavours stay the longest which suits me just fine.  The follow through is incredibly smooth for a 45% spirit.

The Afterburn: 9.0/10

Wow, does this ever deliver!  It is really hard to find fault in the experience, and the fact that I have not even been tempted to visit another rum since I opened the bottle reveals its spectacular character.  The flavours are so intense yet so complimentary to each other that I am truly impressed.  If you folks in the USA have no other reason to lift the Cuban trade embargo,  this elixir is reason enough!  (Note that this is not intended as a political statement; it is a Rum Statement!)

Sip and Enjoy!

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If you want to read more words of wisdom from Chip, tune into his blog.