Rum is in everything in Cuba, part of the rhythm and the melody of life on the island.
And when rum is enjoyed among friends, a few drops are poured out of a new bottle to the floor (or, in rural areas, to the soil), as a symbol of thanksgiving.
While the ceremonies can vary around the island, the message is the same: in Cuba, rum itself is the ritual, a major thread of the fabric of Cuban life, a cherished currency and one of the many distillations of life’s pleasures that Cuba has cultivated on the world’s behalf.
And Havana Club, a company which has expertly been blending the artful identity of Cuba and the world of rum in its recent marketing for the brand, has aimed one of its newer rums at precisely that concept: the ritual of rum.
Enter Havana Club Ritual Cubano, an amber rum said to honor the aforementioned ritual.
Ritual is a rather unique Cuban rum in that it was primarily designed for the Spanish market to be mixed in a rum-and-coke, but today you can still find it around shops in Cuba (and, sometimes, the airport in Havana).
So what is it like?
Compared to its more famous Havana Club brethren, particularly those at the lower end similarly aimed for mixing, it’s a bit lighter and sweeter.
Ritual has a classic amber color, and an aroma of brown sugar and caramel.
The flavor profile is on the sweeter side, with hints of vanilla and brown sugar, robust but far less so than some of the bolder entry-level Havana Club varieties.
And while it’s perfect in a Cuba Libre, it’s surprisingly good enjoyed neat — with a nice drinkability and a light finish. It’s great paired with an afternoon cigar, too.
Just make sure you pour out a few drops before you begin.
— Alexander Britell