Havana Club Selección de Maestros
Review: Havana Club Selección de Maestros Rum 92.5/100
A review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on May 20, 2012
Havana Club’s new Selección de Maestros Rum is an authentic Cuban rum that has recently replaced the Havana Club Barrel Proof in the portfolio of Havana Club Rums. It is my understanding that the Selección de Maestros is produced in the same manner as the Havana Club Barrel Proof, and any differences between the two rums are more a matter of normal variations in batch production than any real difference between the rums.
The rum undergoes a rather unique maturation process where it is first aged in old white oak barrels, and when the final rum is blended, it is then finished in specially ‘selected’ younger finishing casks. I have heard of this ‘Double Barrel’ approach with whisky, but the Havana Club Barrel Proof and now its replacement, the Selección de Maestros, is the first rum that I know of which uses older white oak maturation casks and then younger fresh oak finishing casks.
In the Bottle: 4.5/5
The Selección de Maestros arrives in the attractive bar room bottle shown to the left. I like the wide shouldered bottle and the attractive red and blue labeling with the gold trim. The new oak coloured protective sleeve looks good, and I am satisfied by what I see. In fact I wish more premium rums would arrive on the store shelves in this style of protective canister. It add a nice ambiance to the occasion of opening the bottle in front of friends.
In the Glass: 9/10
The rum displays itself in the glass with a bright copper and red colour. The immediate nose is of sweet toffee, with a nice complement of cinnamon. Nutmeg and cloves work their way into the breezes along with a little oak, some hot orange peel and a touch of green tobacco. As the glass sits, the aroma of toffee intensifies making the rum seem very attractive, which of course leads me to steal a sip.
In the Mouth: 56.5/60
As it was on the nose, the flavour of the Selección de Maestros is full of spicy toffee. The rum has been bottled at 45 % alcohol by volume which makes the flavour just a bit intense. Along with the hot toffee spice, hints of more pungent spices also cross the palate including some nutmeg and cinnamon as well as a few cloves, all of which warm the palate in a good way. The orange peel I noted earlier has given the rum some traces of marmalade in the flavour profile, and I also taste light impressions of canned apricots. A lightly sharp tobacco flavour weaves in and out as does a hint of dry fruit which makes the rum seem just a little smoky.
I really like what I am tasting, and it is easy to fill another glass.
In the Throat: 13.5/15
The exit is heated with spicy toffee and cinnamon dancing on the taste buds well after the glass is consumed. Trails of dry fruit and tobacco give the finish a firmer impression of smokiness than I was expecting. I suspect that the 45 % alcohol bottling strength is serving to intensify the flavours, and although some may find the rum intense, I rather enjoy the higher proof experience.
The Afterburn: 9.0/10
As I stated in the preamble, the Selección de Maestros is really just the Havana Club Barrel Proof by another name. And in fact when I look over my tasting notes I find that my impressions from two and a half years ago are very similar to my current feelings. There are differences, but these are small and probably attributable to time and experience. This is a wonderful rum, one of my favourites!
If you are interested in comparing more scores, here is a link to my other published Rum Reviews.
Even though this is one of my favourite rums for sipping, full of flavour and heat, I also love to mix the Selección de Maestros into Cuba Libre’ style cocktails. The particular cocktail I mix the most is a sipping cocktail I call Cuban Cane Harvest.
Cuban Cane Harvest
(A Rum and Coke made for sipping)
1 ounce Selección de Maestros
1 ounce Classic Coke
a dash of cinnamon
Pour the rum over the ice-cube.
Add the classic coke slowly so that it floats on top.
Sprinkle just a smidgen of cinnamon on the very top.
Do not stir, let the cinnamon and coke slowly melt into the cocktail.
Sip and Enjoy!
My Final Score is out of 100 and you may (loosely) interpret the score as follows:
0-25 A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky. Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89 Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94 Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.
Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and Bronze medal scale as follows:
70 – 79.5 Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5 Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95 Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+ Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)