Cuba's digital destination
Few cities are so enveloped, so intrinsically enmeshed, submerged and associated with music as Santiago de Cuba. It is a city where couples dance to a contagious rhythm that seems to never stop. In the heart of the city Casa de la Trova remains decades after its foundation, one of the best places to listen to, to feel, to gently sway to the beats.
Not everyone is dancing, some are chatting in the middle of the noise, others walk away to confess unspeakable things in a lady’s ear, and some others, more quiet and calm, make best use of the outdoor yard to enjoy something that Cuba, and mainly in Santiago could not live without. There, under the moonlight, and wrapped in the rhythm of a wonderful music, that moves your feet even if you are sitting down, they drink, slowly and almost like under some kind of ritual, a dark mahogany liquid, bright and clean, that gives off a particular and marvelous perfume, and that also excites the souls and inclines the spirits to endless party nights and moments of infinite joy. They drink light Cuban rum, the ancient nectar born from the interior of American White Oak barrels, and that, perhaps as no one else in the world, has known how to concentrate the combination of all those ingredients that constitute the soul of the Cuban people.
We cannot ignore the preference that many people has for this extraordinary moment, in which a small sip of a unique reserve, one impossible to catalog because there is simply no reference to compare it with, melts in their mouths with the captivating perfume of an Habana cigar; one that charms you, traps you, captures you between its smell and its white smoke, which is nothing more than the unique expression of an intense and long-lasting pleasure, offered by the best cigars of the world, from Vueltabajo, in that unique and unrepeatable moment, in which a cigar meets light Cuban rum, its land, soul and spirit sibling, building a scenario of everlasting joy to anyone capable to appreciate it and taste it at the same time.
Rum and Santiago de Cuba; what is the magic hidden in this venerable city that has been capable of producing the best light rum of the world since 1862? Old stories talk about some unbelievable blends of insuperable quality, of a tropical and humid climate that embraces the old barrels of the distillery to wrap them in its mantle, working a miracle by allowing a slow but melodic aging, to give a unique and unrepeatable touch. Others speak about a railroad that passes next to Don Pancho’s premises, that mythical place known by all the Rum Masters as the Cathedral of Cuban Light Rum, where the best reserved of Cuba are resting, inside ancient American White Oak barrels that day after day are very slightly but perceptibly shaken by the passing of the trains over the railroad just next to it, without knowing that the vibrations they produce alter, just the necessary bit, the exquisite blends that are quietly sleeping, waiting of the day when the Masters decide that they are ready to meet the world, for the joy and pleasure of those who find the ultimate satisfaction in the noblest of Cuban spirits.
What are Cuban light rum and Havana cigars if not delicious evidence of the most ancient mixture and influence of Cuban soil?
Habana cigar, that unique partner has joined the Spanish conquerors since 1492 when under the expression “It’s the most beautiful land seen by the human eye” they discovered the island of Cuba and settled in it. There they discovered unknown trees, races never seen before, indescribable beauty, fertile soil like no other, from which as a divine gift, grew that plant used by the Cuban natives in their ceremonies with that captivating and perfumed smell that excited European senses, unfamiliar with it, and made them discover a new smell, sensation, and vicious pleasure, which they took back with them anyways to never let go again.
Light Rum, soul of the East of Cuba, fantastic blend born from the intellect of people from other lands, and of others born in Cuba, who found the way of turning hard and rough sugar cane liquors into a delicate, fine substance of a revealing smell willing to announce the pleasures of its consumption. Light rum is saint and sign of Santiago’s soil. It was born there in 1862, it is 150 years old already, and its maximum expression is located in Santiago de Cuba, the most important city of the East of Cuba, which is simply the expression of the culture of a mixed people that knew how to include the best of every inhabitant of that land in their noblest drink.
But Santiago is also trova, it is conga, it is bolero, it is carnival, it is people’s culture taken to the streets and transmitted from generation to generation, and light rum could not be missing inside that culture. Because it is not possible to talk about Cuban culture without mentioning Cuban rum, the one that has been the partner in endless party nights, the one that has alleviated the sorrows in certain occasions and that, why not, has also been the inspiration in crucial moments of the creation of some of the most beautiful pieces of Cuban culture. Santiago de Cuba is the home of Cuban Light Rum, homeland by excellence of the best blends that have ever left the island. There it is, around the corner, bathed by the Caribbean Sea that protects it with its waves, and that gives at the same time its peculiar climate. But there is also the old distillery, from which magnificent reserves are still arising, with names that perhaps cannot be pronounced, because they have remained a secret of the Masters, those secrets that speak about impossible distillations, about alcohols of unrivaled quality, about old barrels that still offer their best.
The night falls, the sky darkens when the sun finally decides to rest and the music sounds. In a distant table he speaks sweetly to the ear of a mulata from Santiago, impressive mulata of generous height, who laughs contagiously while her eyes show the spice of the conversation. She drinks nectar from the gods, a 25 year-old reserve, coming from the best factory of Cuban rum, the one in Santiago de Cuba; he on the other hand, drinks but also smokes, a strange cigar, not very well-known there, but that conveys all the elegance, delicacy, and exquisiteness of an Habana cigar. Trinidad is its name I believe, yes, that is the name, Trinidad Fundadores of 1998.
First published at http://cigarians.com/chronicle-of-santiago-de-cuba/
Alejandro González Pollán
Cuban cigar lover and especially his exquisite relationship with the Cuban light rum.