Jim Adams of Huntington Beach, California. Jim and i have shared a few rum (along with his lovely wife Holly) and i knew he was a lover of great rum, but this story knocked it out of the park.
Read and enjoy!
A Rum Story, by James Adams:
The best Rum experience I’ve ever had was last year when my wife and I finally realized our long-time dream of visiting Cuba, often regarded as the birthplace of Rum. We were part of a humanitarian group delivering medical supplies, exploring the country, meeting Cubans and of course, drinking fine Cuban Rum. Our days were filled with organized tours and lectures about Cuban culture, but the evenings were free for us to enjoy and explore. Each evening in Havana, we ventured out for dinner and then to various bars to enjoy the amazing live Cuban music and Cuban Rums.
On one such night a Cuban man came into the bar, selling cigars. The guys in our group all bought Cohibas from him -- these were the real thing! We proceeded to chat with the man and invited him to join us at our table. His name was Leo and he told us that he had purchased a “license” from the government that permitted him to speak with tourists, as he showed us the badge he was carrying.
Leo told us stories about Fidel and Raul Castro, the Cuban government, Cuban cigars and the history of Rum in Cuba. He spoke of the introduction of sugar cane from the Canary Islands by Christopher Columbus to the evolution of the Bacardi and Havana Club brands. We learned that there were fruit bats in the Bacardi distillery which led Mrs. Bacardi to suggest the bat symbol be used on the Bacardi labels. Apparently bats were considered to be good luck and the symbol was easily recognized since many Cubans at that time could not read or write.
We listened as Leo told us how the Bacardi family strongly supported Fidel Castro and even encouraged distillery workers to help Fidel’s rebels. Raul Castro was even married to the daughter of a Bacardi worker. Yet, the new Cuban government confiscated the Bacardi company after the revolution.
Leo spoke of how Havana Club was started by Jose Arechabala, a Spanish immigrant, who eventually had his operation confiscated by the Castro government. These Arechabala family members, like the Bacardi family, fled the country. But unlike the Bacardi family they did not have the money to rebuild their company and left behind the Havana Club name and trademark. The Cuban government seized and continued to produce Havana Club Rum. Leo pointed out that ironically, the Cuban government began producing ‘Ron Arecha’ as a tribute to Arechabala, after they seized his distillery and forced him into exile.
Congratulations Jim! You deserve it.
Can't wait to be sipping some rum with you in Miami!
Thanks again to every one who participated. Even if you didn't win you can stil join us at the Miami Rum Renaissance! you'd be crazy no to.