Since Justerini & Brooks entered into a partnership with Ron Santiago de Cuba, rums from the southeastern city – known as the cradle of the light rum style – have built a reputation for their mixability among London bartenders. What they have lacked in this new era of a distillery that has been operating since 1868 has been a serious Extra Añejo sipping rum – until now.
The 20-year-old was first produced in 2000 (although the previous bottle design looks older than that!) but has been missed for over a decade. For its return, Ron Santiago de Cuba has joined forces with another great Cuban export that has been welcomed in the UK, the dancer and choreographer Carlos Acosta. Having retired from the Royal Ballet in 2015, he has since become director of the Birmingham Royal Ballet and runs dance schools in both Cuba and Woolwich (which is a pleasing duo of locations).
Despite his birthplace in Havana, he has joined forces with the rum from the opposite end of the country to create a film that captures the essence of Santiago de Cuba in dance, visuals and liquid.
Acosta says, ‘This piece tells the story of the passion and discipline that it takes for the Maestros del Ron Cubano to create a liquid of unparalleled balance that dances in every glass, and its similarities with mastering the art of ballet; balancing your natural creative instincts with years and years of hard work, passion and dedication.’
One of those maestros is Tranquilino Palencia Estruch. He agrees about the parallels: ‘Santiago is a city of music. This liquid has been there for 20 years listening to the sound of the city, soaking up its music. We have tried to imbue this rum with the culture and art of Santiago.’
It’s certainly a sophisticated and expressive rum, an after-dinner sipping experience full of coffee and cacao flavours, but also oaky spice and caramel sweetness. Well worth the wait.
Ron Santiago de Cuba 20-Year-Old Extra Añejo Gran Reserva, £175, will be available from The Whisky Exchange; ronsantiagodecuba.com