Añejo Blanco is Havana Club’s answer to Bacardi’s Superior. Both are aged for at least one year and are crystal clear white rums. On paper, they are identical offerings. But there’s far more to these brands than most people realise.
Bacardi and Havana Club are bitter rivals, both being founded in Cuba in 1862 and 1878 respectively. After sharing the Cuban market together for over 80 years, both companies were changed forever by the Cuban Revolution, in very different ways. Bacardi was smart enough to move most of its assets (including its trademarks) out of Cuba prior to the revolution, and although they lost their Cuban assets, the company was able to move production offshore and maintain its brand.
Havana Club however was nationalised by the government and the Arechabala family (founders) fled to Spain and later the United States. Havana Club continued to be produced in Cuba, and in 1994 was released to the international market, under a 50/50 joint venture with French beverage company Pernod Ricard. A further twist of the saga resulted from the Arechabala family selling the Havana Club trademark in the US to Bacardi. This resulted in both companies spending 15 years between 1997 and 2012 in various courts fighting over the trademark.
Due to the US trade emargo on Cuba, Bacardi does not have to compete with Havana Club in the US. However with relations improving, most commentators see a time in the not-to-distant future where the embargo will be removed. Bacardi is worried – very worried – this will result in a considerable loss of market share. Hence, it will do everything it can to reduce the impact.
It’s hard not to agree that Havana Club’s rums are generally of a higher quality than their Bacardi counterparts, at least for their commonly produced rums. This is probably a result of Bacardi having an enormous market share, which at least in the case of Superior, gives the impression of a highly mass produced product.
Añejo Blanco does not give this impression. Even when highly dilluted with a strong mixer, there is an obvious taste difference. In simple terms, it just tastes more like a rum, rather than a generic filtered white spirit. For this reason, we consider Añejo Blanco to be a mid-range white rum, and Superior to be a basic white rum.
Since the release of Havana Club Añejo 3 Años (3 year old white rum) in Australia, Añejo Blanco is becoming increasingly harder to buy, even in major retailers such as Dan Murphys.
Distilled at the Havana Club Distillery, Havana Cuba. 37.5% ABV. Retail Price $34.90 (Dan Murphy’s).