Matusalem Tasting Notes

Matusalem

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 –

Dirty Daiquiri
Dirty Daiquiri

Dirty Daiquiri

Glass – 

Martini

Ingredients –

60 ml Matusalem (Patino or Clásico)
Juice of 1/2 lime
30 ml Simple syrup
1 Lime wedge

Method – 

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.

Bacardí

Bacardí

Bacardí is one of the biggest brands in the world, yet I can not believe that I am yet to feature it in any way shape or form. So in response to this, lets take a look at how Bacardí is the name of rum, and why it is enjoyed in nearly every country *.

1814 heralded the birth of Don Facundo Bacardí Massó, the founder and mastermind behind the Bacardí rum. In the late 1800’s, Cuban’s were becoming tired of the usual pirate rum found on the island, which Don Facundo Bacardí Massó realised, and set out to pioneer a new distilling process. After experimenting with several techniques he hit upon filtering the rum through charcoal, which removed impurities. In addition to this, Don Facundo aged the rum in white oak barrels, which had the effect of “mellowing” the drink. The final product was the first clear, or “white” rum in the world.
He opened his first distillery and planted a coconut palm at its entrance. it survived earthquakes, wars and distillery fires, leading to the prophecy that the company would survive Cuba as long as ‘El Coco’ lived. Not surprising then that when the Bacardí family were exiled from Cuba, El Coco died. To this day, a coconut palm is planted at every Bacardí Company facility.

Another well-known sign is the bat. In the early years of the Bacardí production, Doña Amalia Moreau, Don Facundo Bacardi’s wife, discovered a colony of fruit bats living in the rafters of their distillery. In both Spanish and local folklore, the bat had long since been associated with good health, fortune and family unity, which Doña Amalia Moreau convinced her husband to use the symbol on every bottle that was produced.

In 1876, Bacardí won itself its first international award at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition for product quality and innovation. Its first of many as Bacardí is now recognised as the worlds most awarded rum. A year later, Emilio Bacardí took over as President as Don Facundo retired. The awards didn’t stop coming though, after being awarded a gold medal for product quality at the Barcelona Exhibition of 1888, the Queen Regent of Spain Maria Cristina named Bacardí as Purveyors of the Spanish Royal Household. Bacardí Rum became known as the ‘King of Rums and the Rum of Kings’.

1898 saw the beginning of a classic cocktail named the Daiquiri. Hailing from the mining town of Daiquirí, Cuba, an American mining engineer named Jennings Stockton Cox invented a cocktail using Bacardí, fresh lime, sugar and ice. After success with his friends, he named it ‘Ron BACARDÍ a la Daiquirí’. Another cocktail that Bacardí can be proud of is the Cuba Libra. Invented at the time of Cuba’s independence following the Spanish American War some time in the early 1900’s, a small Havana bar and a group of soldiers mixed Bacardí, cola and lime and toasted ‘por Cuba libre!’ or ‘to a free Cuba’.

When Prohibition was declared in the USA, 60,000 cases of Bacardí could not be sold or exported. Refusing to destroy the precious rum, Don Facundo’s son-in-law, Enrique Schueg, chose instead to give it away through an innovative share scheme. He issued 60,000 shares in Bacardi’s US Bottling Company and the very next day closed the company down, giving away one case of Bacardí as compensation for every share.

In the 1960’s, just prior to Bacardi’s 100th Anniversary, the Cuban administration confiscated all private businesses in Cuba without any compensation. Bacardí production was forced to stop and the Bacardí family lost its distilleries, breweries, offices, warehouses, ageing rum stocks and even their family homes. But thanks to Bacardí President Pepín Bosch, having transferred all company patents out of Cuba in 1958, and the company having established two distilleries in Puerto Rico and Mexico many years prior, Bacardí were able to rebuild itself in exile. In record time a new distillery opened in Brazil to support the existing distilleries and by 1979 Bacardí had become the world’s number one international spirit.

So a rather stella history, having built Bacardí effectively twice in there lifetime. Bacardí have a strong portfolio of rums, and I’ve been lucky enough to experience the odd one and write for you some tasting notes –

Bacardí Carta Fuego
Bacardí Carta Fuego

Bacardí Carta Blanca – 37.5%

What used to be named as ‘Superior’, this is a blend of rums aged separately within lightly charred ex-bourbon barrels for 12 to 24 months.
Whisps of tropical fruits and almonds on the nose followed by a little spice, but with vanilla dominating the palate. A rather smooth offering, but does develop into a dry finish with a hint of spice.

Bacardí Oakheart – 35%

Fermented in charred oak bourbon barrels. Rich oak aromas on the nose with a spice of cinnamon lingering. Hints of dried fruit on the palate mixed in with vanilla flavours and subtle smoke.

Bacardí Carta Fuego – 40%

Aged for at least on year with added spices. Rich, bold and smooth on the nose, with creamy vanilla, butter and caramel notes dominating. Smooth upon the palate, with the rich spices coming through giving of some heat. A warm finish combined with toffee and caramel creates a thin yet sharp experience.

Ron Bacardi de Maestros de Ron, Vintage, MMXII
Ron Bacardi de Maestros de Ron, Vintage, MMXII

I’ve also been very fortunate to experience an incredibly rare expression from Bacardí – Ron Bacardí de Maestros de Ron, Vintage, MMXII. For 30 years, José Sanchez Gavito was the Master Blender, becoming the first non Cuban and first non family member to be appointed the role. Upon his retirement, he was invited to be one of the eight family members to craft this expression, bringing together the best rums from the Bacardí cellar. The rum was then laid to rest in American oak barrels for 20 years and then swapped into 60-year-old Cognac barrels to age. Once the process was complete, the eight Maestros de Ron were left with 4 different rums to choose from. Over three days, they deliberated to find the perfect one that they could bottle within a glass decanter, ultimately giving it as a present to the Bacardí family.

Ron Bacardi de Maestros de Ron, Vintage, MMXII – 43%

Slight dried fruits of raisin and fig on the nose, with plenty of dried woods coming through and balancing nicely. The palate enjoyed a strong flavour of wood, interacting with sharp cherry, then softening with honey notes that created a very long finish. Utterly superb.

I mentioned previously that the Daiquiri and Cuba Libra first made its name in Cuba using Bacardí Superior, but it’s not the only cocktail you can have –

Sidecar
Sidecar

Bacardi Sidecar

Glass – 

Highball

Ingredients – 

25 ml Bacardí Carta Blanca
25 ml Triple Sec
25 ml Freshly squeezed lemon juice
2/5 part Sugar syrup (Optional)

Method – 

Pour all the ingredients into a shaker. Add the ice and shake. Add sugar if necessary. Double strain into a chilled glass.

or perhaps,

Bacardi Daiquiri
Bacardi Daiquiri

Daiquiri – created by Bacardí UK Brand Ambassador Shervene Shahbazkhani 

Glass – 

Coupette

Ingredients – 

2 Heaped Tsp Caster Sugar
25 ml Fresh Lime
50 ml Bacardí Carta Blanca

Method – 

Shake all the ingredients over ice and double strain into a coupette glass. No garnish required.

Simple, easy, enjoyable. Love or hate Bacardí, you can’t fault its legacy at all. Treat yourself.

*History taken from the Bacardí website. Subtle changes have been made for narrative purposes.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2015. 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.