The Havana Club Rum Museum

It’s a hot and sultry afternoon when I make it to the Havana Club Rum Museum (Fundación Museo del Ron Havana Club). Having walked through the narrow streets of Old Havana down to Avenida del Puerto right across the docks of the bayI am positively glowing. The Guaravana—a mixture of guarapo (sugarcane juice), orange juice and Havana Club Rum takes some of the edge off as I arrive. After crossing a wide hallway, I enter an inner courtyard, typical of Cuban colonial architecture, and sit on a barrel-shaped seat to enjoy my drink. Sipping very slowly hoping that I return to a normal color, I wait for the tour to begin.

We climb the stairs to the first floor and enter a room where the different Havana Club rums are exhibited, as well as a sample of the tools used in the 19th century for cultivating sugarcane and producing molasses. There is a collage of images of African slaves, who were the principal workforce until the mid-19th century, at work in the fields. While we look at exhibits, our guide explains how Columbus first brought sugarcane stalks from the Canary Islands during his second trip to the Americas, initially to Hispaniola (today’s Dominican Republic and Haiti) and then to other regions in the Americas. Sugarcane easily adapted to Cuba’s climate and soil and acquired a unique aroma that distinguishes it from other sugarcane grown in other places making it the prime and irreplaceable material in rum making.

The second part of our tour shows the actual production process of Havana Club Rum thanks to an amazing tiny sugar mill designed according to the typical mills of the 20th century, with fermentation tanks and distillation area where aguardiente, the distilled spirit of sugarcane, is obtained, and the half lighted warehouse where rum and aguardiente are aged under the zealous care of master rum makers. After an 18-month period of aging, they are blended with treated water and pure spirits producing a young rum which is filtered and bottled as Silver Dry (White Rum). Or it is aged some more in white cedar wood barrels that are scraped and burnt, acquiring special characteristics that are impregnated in the future rum during aging. The longer the rum is kept in the barrels, the darker it becomes. And its taste also changes, but it is not until when the blend is made that rum becomes rum. It is then that master rum makers combine different types and ages to obtain the desired product.

We walk down the stairs on the other side of the museum down to a narrow bar with an exhibition of different rum labels, stones used for their printing, and other artefacts related to the world of rum. Our guide offers us a shot of Havana Club 7 Años. It is a preamble to sampling (professional research) some more produce in the Havana Club Bar. I am tempted by the “ultra-premium extra-aged” exclusive Máximo Extra Añejo, (bottled in Murano glass with gold inlays) but settle for a mojito in the 1930s style place which has filled up since I came in. A traditional band—Guaravana Song—plays Cuban son. Time passes, not such a bad life…

Museo del Ron
Ave. del Puerto #262, esq. a Sol, Habana Vieja
(+53) 7-862-4108 / 862-3832 / 861-8051
Open Mon-Thurs, 9:00am to 5:30pm
Fri-Sun, 9:00am to 4:30pm
Tours in Spanish, English, French, German and Italian
Price CUC 7

  • Tren de Hershey

    Tren de Hershey  LH 5+

    In 1926, Pennsylvania based Hershey Corporation built a 135-km-long electric railroad network in Cuba to transport product and personnel from Havana to Hershey’s sugar factory 45 km east of the capita …

    Plaza de Armas

    Plaza de Armas  LH 5+

    The early city was formally founded in 1519 on the northeast side of what would soon be laid out as Plaza de la Iglesia—named for the simple church that stood here until 1741, when it was destroyed fo …

    Plaza de la Catedral

    Plaza de la Catedral  LH 5+

    The last of the main squares to be created, this is one of Old Havana’s most beautiful spots. Originally, it was named Plaza de la Ciénaga (Swamp Square) because of its muddy terrain, but by the 18th …

    Gran Parque Metropolitano (Parque Almendares)

    Gran Parque Metropolitano (Parque Almendares)  LH 5+

    Along the banks of the Almendares River is Parque Almendares, also known as Bpsque de La Haband (Havana’s Forest). This is the only urban forest in the city and is a recreational area for Habaneros th …

    Catedral de La Habana

    Catedral de La Habana  LH 5+

    The entry of the Jesuits in Cuba was formally requested in 1656, and in 1727, a plot was granted for their school and church. Bishop Brother Gerónimo Valdés explained to the King of Spain that Havana’ …

    Hotel Nacional de Cuba

    Hotel Nacional de Cuba  LH 5+

    In response to the increasing influx of American tourists in the late 20s (mainly those who were escaping Prohibition, in force in the United States at the time), the construction of a luxury hotel wa …

    Museo de la Ciudad (Palacio de los Capitanes Generales)

    Museo de la Ciudad (Palacio de los Capitanes Generales)  LH 5

    History & architecture Considered the most important example of baroque architecture in the city, this grand building on the west side of the plaza was built in 1792, on the sight of the former pa …

    Iglesia de San Francisco de Paula

    Iglesia de San Francisco de Paula  LH 5

    In 1664 the Presbyter of the Cathedral of Havana, don Nicolás Estévez Borges, ordered the construction of a chapel devoted to Saint Francis of Paola (founder of the Roman Catholic Order of the Minims) …

    Necrópolis de Cristóbal Colón

    Necrópolis de Cristóbal Colón  LH 5+

    History & architecture Declared National Monument in 1987, this is the most important cemetery in Cuba and its 57 hectares (10 acres) makes it the largest in America. According to Enrique Martínez …

    Edificio Bacardí

    Edificio Bacardí  LH 5

    The first and main exponent of art deco in the city belonged to Emilio Bacardí and was the home to his famous rum company. After winning the contest held by Bacardí, architects E. Rodríguez, R. Fernán …

    1 of 21 pages »