Review: Havana Club 11 Year Old – The Whisky Exchange

Mid July I have attended the Trade Session of the Rum Show. There were so many rums to try, but when the Buying Director of The Whisky Exchange, Dawn Davies, grabs you to try one of their exclusive bottlings, you’re trying one of their exclusive bottlings. I am talking about this bottle of Havana Club 11 Year Old which was made exlusively for TWE and, implicitly, they are the only one to sell it.

This Havana Club expression was made using the skill of Asbel Morales, the Maestro del Ron Cubano for Havana Club. “Creating Havana Club 11-Year-Old required us to draw on our knowledge and exemplary stock to bring The Whisky Exchange’s vision to life while remaining true to the Havana Club taste everyone knows and love”, asserts Morales. “It exemplifies our commitment to continually push the boundaries of creativity and deliver truly distinctive expressions”.

The result is a 2400 bottles limited edition Havana Club that has been aged in American white oak (so most likely ex-Bourbon barrels) for 11 years and, the most interesting part, it was bottled at 50% ABV straight from the barrel – if you are familiar with Havana Club’s core range, most of their expressions will clock at 40% ABV with only Seleccion De Maestros holding a strength of 45% ABV.

This is quite an exciting offering and it seems all the parties involved are very happy with the result: “We are really excited to be working with Havana Club on this limited-edition rum. There are some incredible things happening in Cuban rum today and for me this project embodies what makes their rums so special and unique. It is a testament to the craftmanship of the Maestros del Ron that that deliver the heritage and quality of the liquid we get to enjoy today.” to quote Dawn Davies.

Havana Club 11 Year Old TWE Exclusive is molasses based, column still distilled and aged for 11 years in American white oak. Bottled at its cask strength, 50% ABV, without any sweetners or colouring.

On the nose it reminds of a dry style sherry. Toasted walnuts & almonds, ground coffee, dark chocolate and unripe pears. Black cherries, red apples and ripe mangos. The aroma seems to have a nice balance between fruity and oaky with a nice layer of oxidised wine. Maple syrup, burnt orange oils, white grapes and ginger. Some new leather, charred oak and burnt matchsticks too.

On the palate it’s like chocolate galore. Cacao nibs, chocolate sauce, almonds, black pepper and ground coffee. Rich tobacco, red apples and raisins. Here the fruits give way to the oak influence and only hang in the background. Toasted wood, maple syrup and dry sherry. Orange peel, saffron and a touch of ginger. The finish is long with chocolaty tobacco and some dried fruits.

This is the best Cuban rum I have reviewed. The balance is beautiful, the complexity is there and, in the true Cuban style, it’s such an easy sipper. As I said, there are plenty of chocolate and coffee notes balanced out by the orchard fruits and a layer of nuttiness that some rums can only achieve with a sherry cask influence.

Well done Havana and The Whisky Exchange. It’s priced at £75 for a bottle and I think that’s more than fair for a 50% ABV Cuban rum – if you’re a fan of Havana you should definitely get one.

Havana Club 11 Year Old – The Whisky Exchange score:
Flavour/taste: 58/70
Value for money: 15/15
Transparency/purity: 15/15
Overall: 88/100


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