To hear of a story that sets about a journey for one reason and one reason only can really captivate an audience – say for example the story of Matusalem rum.
Two Spanish brothers, Benjamin and Eduardo Camp, together with a third partner, Evaristo Álvarez, left Spain and settled in Cuba for the purpose of establishing a rum distillery. In 1872, the three of them established the Matusalem brand in Santiago de Cuba. The Camp brothers also brought with them their knowledge and expertise in the Solera system of blending and distillation used in making Spanish brandy. In 1912, Benjamin Camp returned to Spain, leaving the company in the hands of his brother Eduardo. The Camp and Alvarez families were united when Evaristo Alvarez’ daughter married the son of Eduardo Camp. During the next 25 years, the Company grew and thrived under the leadership of Claudio Alvarez LeFebre, the son of Evaristo Alvarez. During the 1940’s, Claudio Alvarez LeFebre was succeeded by his son, Claudio Alvarez Soriano. Under his leadership, Matusalem and Company captured fifty percent of the Cuban rum market. Disaster struck the family in 1956 though when the elder Alvarez died, and six months later, the younger Alvarez died of lung cancer.
Following the Cuban revolution 1959, the family-owned Matusalem brand went into exile, and Matusalem and Company was established in the United States. The Cuban government continued to make rum in the former Matusalem factory in Santiago de Cuba, marketing the product as Ron Santiago. Neglect of the Matusalem brand, a result of feuding between three branches of the family, was ended in 1995 when Dr. Claudio Alvarez Salazar, the great-grandson of the founder, gained control of Matusalem and Company in an out-of-court settlement. In 2002, Matusalem and Company was relaunched and is now produced in the Dominican Republic.
Even the logo survived. When Matusalem was founded, flocks of Barn Swallows nested in the barrel aging warehouses. The Barn Swallow, or in Spanish, ‘Golondrina’, was a smooth-flying bird common to the area of Santiago de Cuba. Throughout the day it seemed Barn Swallows were everywhere, flying in and out of the aging warehouses. The swallow was also considered a free flying spirit, possessing beauty and elegance. The Matusalem founders thought it was an appropriate symbol and ultimately a most fitting logo for the Brand.
So how does this relaunch fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –
Matusalem Platino – 40%
A combination of triple-distilled and double-filtered – an equivalent to a Solera 3 blending process. Subtle vanilla nose with a slight sweetness cutting through. Smooth palate with a developing sweetness and vanilla notes. Lingering dry finish.
Matusalem Clásico 10yr – 40%
Produced with select rums aged in oak barrels, using the Solera process. Soft caramel aromas on the nose with a toffee finish. Smooth beginning on the palate with oak flavours mixed with burnt caramel dominate the long palate.
All great as a tot neat or over ice, but to enjoy a long drink, maybe try out this –
60 ml Matusalem (Patino or Clásico)
Juice of 1/2 lime
30 ml Simple syrup
1 Lime wedge
In a shaker with crushed ice, add Matusalem Rum, lime juice and simple syrup. Stir a few seconds and serve in a chilled Martini glass. Garnish with a lime wedge.
A great rum, with a wider range to sample and indeed collect for you own collection, including a 7 yr and a 15 yr Gran Reserva. Give them all a go.
© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.