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Havana Club sweetens up recipe

Havana Club has given its Añejo Especial expression a major makeover with a sweeter recipe designed to improve the rum’s appeal as a cocktail base and attract new consumers into the category.

Introducing the reworked blend, Havana Club’s “Maestro Ronero” Don Asbel Morales highlighted the flavour influence of the white, young oak barrels used to mature the various rum bases prior to blending.

By accentuating the finished product’s vanilla and caramel flavours in this way, he described the new expression as “an ideal base for Cuban cocktails, particularly the Cuba Libre.”

The changes will not affect the style’s 40% abv, which the Havana Club team has maintained at the same level “to ensure that these flavours are enhanced while providing a sweeter taste profile and a smooth drinking experience.”

Nick Blacknell, international marketing director for Havana Club International, a joint venture between producer Cuba Ron SA and distributor Pernod Ricard, further explained the flavour tweak as an attempt to win over fans from other spirits categories.

In particular, he described the new expression as one “that can attract whisky drinkers looking for equally good, yet more exciting, alternatives to their usual brand.”

In addition to altering the rum’s taste profile, Havana Club has unveiled fresh packaging for this expression. The new design features a hand-written style font and “oak effect” on the label, designed to improve shelf stand-out and emphasise the superior quality of Añejo Especial within its category.

Summing up the new offer, Blacknell concluded: “With this new formulation and premium look, we are confident that Havana Club Añejo Especial will satisfy demand from sociable young adults seeking a naturally sweeter taste profile, but for whom authenticity and high quality are equally important purchasing cues.”

The revamped expression is due to launch in Germany this September with an RRP of €15. It will then be rolled out around the world over the next year, supported by a marketing campaign.

Havana Club is not the only major rum brand to have adapted its recipe in recent years. Sailor Jerry sparked outrage among many fans in 2010 when it moved the flavour profile in the opposite direction to Havana Club by toning down the vanilla characteristics.

The change even inspired the creation of a new rival brand, Admiral Vernon’s “Old J”, which claimed to fill the gap vacated by Sailor Jerry. However Sailor Jerry’s owner First Drinks indicated that, despite the online furore, sales of the brand had actually increased following its recipe change.

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