Havana Club Gran Reserva Añejo 15 Años


Product of:  Cuba
Aged:   15 years
Price: £120 - €149
 40% ABV 
6-10g/L (estimate)
Context:  Premium Aged Rum
RG Rating: 9.5

Tasting Notes
The color is a beautiful burnt orange amber, shining like an expansive sheet of polished copper.  One of the most visually appealing rums ever to grace  my tasting glass. The long legs drip silky smooth and seem to go on forever, untilI say: “that’s enough, I have to taste you at some point!”

Havana Club Gran Reserva is a perfume of fine rums.  The bouquet is immediate, sweet and light with a whiff of leather, caramel and oaken vanilla.  Then come deeper aromas of mild dry tobacco, toasted oak and marshmallows, burnt brown sugar, tart orange peel, apricot and perhaps some peach, mildly intoxicating phenolic with butterscotch, and finally, subtle floral scents of violets.  There’s a lot going on in this rum. Reward yourself with sufficient time to discover and appreciate it’s complexity and coax out its aromatic layers.  Pause.  With all that complexity on the nose, you suspect anything could happen on your initial taste, so proceed slowly.  Then, relish an initial sweetness balanced with white pepper and tart fruit on a perfectly medium weight body, which supports the same flavors as found in the aromas.  The finish is like milk chocolate and caramel, lingering just long enough then disappearing before wearing out its welcome.  After all, there is another sip waiting.  Consistent from nose to throat, just as it should be.

Havana Club 15 B&B-RG1-USE2

In early 2014, Havana Club 15 was released in a bottle with more contemporary appearance, as pictured in the sidebar at left.  The classic packaging is pictured below.  Havana Club claims "The new taller bottle features a more sophisticated label and glass lettering embossed onto the bottle, highlighting Havana Club’s core values of craftsmanship, authenticity and quality. Other new elements include … a bottom-weighted glass base to further reinforce its appeal as a premium rum of the highest quality."  Rum Gallery recalls Shakespeare's Romeo and Julet: "that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet."

I’ve been waiting to try Havana Club Gran Reserva since it was distilled and laid down to age in oak casks 15 years ago.  While I wish my taste had come sooner, the rum was certainly worth the wait.

As a mater of principle, I avoid reprinting marketing content from rum distillers,  But in this case Don José Navarro, the Primer Maestro Ronero at Havana Club, describes his Añejo 15 Años perfectly and with suitable reverence when he says:  “…produced by repeatedly blending and aging selected rums and aguardientes in old oak casks that add that delicate touch of tannin. This unique aging process liberates the aromas and flavor and gives that extra smoothness that is the top mark of top quality rum.”

There are those who question the Price/Value of Havana Club 15.  I’m not one of them.  It is subtle, delicate, highly complex, and supremely delectable.  I’m hard pressed to put a price on those qualities. 

US relations with Cuba are easing slightly, but more change is needed to end the stalemate of the past half-century, allowing US citizens to travel freely to Cuba or purchase Cuban rum in the ‘States. Sadly, most American rum lovers just don’t know what they’re missing.  One sip, and you’ll understand why Havana Club Cuban Gran Reserva is one of the most respected rums in Europe. 

Credit:  Special thanks to John Gibbbons for facilitating this review.

Reviewed: May 20013, in London.

© Dave Russell 2017