With the diplomatic relationship restored between the United States and Cuba, we thought it was time to explore a Cuban rum. As the commercial embargo is still intact, U.S. shelves will not have product directly from Cuba, however rums made in the Cuban style, produced and distributed elsewhere, can be found. Matusalem Gran Reserva Solera 15, rich in Cuban history, was a rum worth exploring.
In 1872, brothers Benjamin and Eduardo Camp, and Evaristo Álvarez opened a distillery in Santiago de Cuba utilizing the Solera aging system most often used to produce sherry, brandy and cognac. The fractional blending process flows through a pyramid. New rums are put in barrels at the highest level of the pyramid. As aged rum is pulled for bottling from the lowest Solera barrel the volume is replaced by the younger rums above. The blending of old and new is said to soften and refine the rum.
The distillery closed after the Cuban Revolution in 1959, forcing the rum to disappear until it was relaunched in 2001 by the great-grandson of Álvarez, Claudio Álvarez Salazar. Of course he could no longer produce or bottle the rum in Cuba, so today Matusalem is made in the Dominican Republic.
We selected Matusalem Gran Reserva Solera 15 due to our affinity for sipping rums.
The nose has an ever so slight hint of vanilla. The vanilla is on the tongue, however the finish is almost devoid of flavor. There is a warmth which comes in and lingers ever so slightly. Subsequent tastes bring out a hint of tobacco yet it doesn’t stay with me in the finish.
Very subtle nose. I can’t truly get a line on what the rum is presenting. Definitely sweet not a spice. Hopefully on the tongue the rum will show its colors. Well, that didn’t help. Initially, I get a fiery spice with a warm finish. Definitely taste the tobacco but I can’t truly identify the sweet. I agree with Clint, the finish dissipates without any fanfare.
Ho Hum! There certainly isn’t anything to contemplate about this rum. We actually wonder if the Solera process produces a different rum with each bottle. Don’t discount this as a sipping rum for when you just want the cane sugar quality without having to think hard about what the rum in presenting. In our house though we probably would mix this into a good Cuba Libre.
Score 2.5 out of 5
Sipping Rum Scale
1 – An expensive mixer
2 – A quick celebratory shot
3 – Wouldn’t be embarrassed to share with friends
4 – Are my friends worthy of a sip
5 – Special moments rum
About Clint and Terry: We have sampled many a dram over our 32 years of marriage and quite often we don’t fully agree. Could be the difference is male/female taste buds. Or, somebody is just wrong.