Conde de Cuba 15 Anos Rum
“Rum” – from a modern multi column still.
ABV Hydrometer Test: 38% ABV @ 20°
Produced by the Destileria Sevilla, today I am reviewing a Cuban rum, aged for 15 years and bottled at 38% ABV. Meaning Count of Cuba, Conde de Cuba have a variety of rums (dry/white, a liqueur at 32%, 3, 5, 7, 11 and 15yo) in their range and I have chosen to write about their top-of-the-range 15 year old rum.
I spotted this 15 year old variant for what I thought (or think) is a reasonable £33 for a bottle whilst away on holiday, and could not resist an impulse purchase to try something new.
This molasses-based rum “is distilled in copper-lined columns. They create an aguardiente, “which is then placed into American white oak barrels for ageing.”
“Excellency Mr Francisco Dionisio Vives y Planes received the Title of Conde de Cuba by the King Fernando VII of Spain.
Other important titles such as Captain General of the Republic or Knight of the Royal Grand Cross as well.”
Under Richard Seale’s/Luca Gargano’s proposed rum categorisation, this would most-likely be classed as a “Rum” – from a modern multi column still. When tested with my hydrometers, it came out at 38% as per the label implying no detectable additives.
I actually really like what they have done here. Although I am not overly bothered/influenced by fancy packages, bottles and other oddities, this is an exception. Presented in an outer tin, the bottle within is about 40% of the circumference of a circle in shape – put two together and you could tie them up and use them as weights around a parasol or gazebo. The shape is actually a reference to “C” as in from Cuba or Conde de Cuba and it is also the shape of a half moon (The rum is also known as “medialuna” or half moon in English.)
The tin has a little story about the artesanal nature of production whilst the bottle itself is embossed with references to the rum’s status and standing and the labels have some useful info. On the front, I am told that my “Very limited” bottling is number 1,098 of bottles produced in 2017 (it does not state the total amount produced though). The Mastro Ronera has autographed it and the Destileria Sevilia production location is referenced. On the rear label is a statement that the entire production process from cultivation, through harvesting, distilling and ageing is carried out by Conde de Cuba.
The bottle is sealed with a “Republica de Cuba sello de Garantia” i.e. the Cuban government’s warranty for Cuban rum production. There is a real cork enclosure but rather than the cork being attached to a stopper it is in the shape of an elongated bath plug, but this actually makes the rum feel quite natural in an odd kind of way.
The rum has thick and gloopy legs that drop down my glass quite slowly.
The official web site references the colour changing due to prolonged ageing. Although there is no reference to caramel colouring, it looks very much as if caramel has been added as it is a very deep amber to mahogany.
My first impression is of oak and an almost agricole kind of grassiness to the aromas. It is quite light in its aromas and the alcohol does not take your breath away no matter how deeply one inhales but at 38% that is no surprise.
Every time I nose this rum, it is dominated by the aforementioned dry and sometimes stale oak. Beyond that I almost feel as if I have one of those Febreze pine fresh room atomisers here. It is not unpleasant, but it is a tad artificial. Some light and wispy, woody tobacco smoke wafts from the glass – as if someone has put a bay tree on a barbecue and asked me to inhale it. There is a slight honey-sweetness to it, too.
Taste, Initial-middle 30/40
Inevitably, quite light on entry but despite being a lot of the things I do not like in a rum – low ABV and multi-column distillation, the rum has a flavour and presence. A light touch of honeycombed sweetness and delicate smoky oak – this is actually quite good.
Taste, Middle/Throat 31/40
For once I think that if this was a higher ABV, it would be a bit too rough and fiery at this point. There is a balance in the mid-palate as the rum becomes a little sweeter but equally it is accompanied by bitterness from the oak ageing and a cacao flavour – like a pure and bitter 100% cacao though. Not unpleasant but it does develop a touch of a rubbery flavour with multiple sips. It is not rough but then again it has a bite to it, too.
The finish is quite short, very dry and a touch bitter. A hint of caramel helps to offset the bitterness. It is smooth and very soft.
I think that many rum producers in Jamaica and Barbados will take great exception to the claim on Conde de Cuba’s web site that rum became a valued commodity in the 19th century and that “Cuba was the birthplace of rum.” If it was the birthplace, then they would need their documentation to go back several hundred more years to validate that claim.
That aside, Conde de Cuba’s website is very informative and demonstrates how they make their rum – it even has a picture of their still. Despite the low 38% ABV, this tastes pretty good although I think if anything it is a little over-oaked as it does have some very bitter notes at times.
It will be interesting to see the price point when it is released in the UK. I bought mine in Gibraltar, which is tax-free at £33, which probably means it will be around £50 or so. At that price point it would have some serious competition – Doorly’s 12yo at £35 or Appleton 12yo “Rare Blend” Rum at £35, both of which are better and (likely to be) cheaper.
But, don’t be put off by the low ABV and price-point, this is well worth trying. It would probably make a very tasty old fashioned cocktail.
Review No. 109
P Denotes the rum contains POT still distillate.
C Denotes the rum contains traditional/Coffey COLUMN still distillate.
B Denotes the rum contains a BLEND of POT and COLUMN still distillate.
M Denotes the rum contains MULTI-COLUMN still distillate or is a MODERN rum.
A Denotes the rum is an AGRICOLE i.e. from Cane Juice.
S Denotes the rum is presented in a SWEETENED style.
Bottle/Presentation Out of 3
Glass/Aroma Out of 10
Taste, Initial-middle Out of 40
Taste, Middle/Throat Out of 40
Afterburn Out of 7