Arechebala 1990 Velier Anejo de Cuba
Velier was founded by Casimir Chaix in Genoa in 1947 as a wine and spirits importer and distributor. By the 1980s they were still a small family-company with less than ten staff. This all changed in 1986 when it was purchased by Luca Gargano, a former brand ambassador for Saint James who was at the time still in his twenties. Under his direction, they selected their first single cask whiskies in 1992, and their first rum in 1996. In the decades that followed, Velier have gone on to become one of the most collectible brands in the industry, and Gargano has positioned them as the one of the foremost authorities and bottlers of rum anywhere in the world.
This rare early Velier release was sourced from CubaRon's Havana Club.
Havana Club is the biggest-selling Cuban rum brand in the world. Established by Spanish immigrant, Don Jose Arechabala, in 1878 after he bought a small distillery in the city of Cárdenas. The brand itself was introduced in 1934, its name deliberately anglicised to appeal to the newly re-opened post-Prohibition market in the US. Business was good, however in the aftermath of the Cuban revolution in 1959, Fidel Castro nationalised much of the country’s industry, seizing control of its rum companies in the process. Barred from exporting their version of Bacardi into most markets, the Cuban government chose instead to focus on Havana Club, which had previously had less of a global presence. The Cuban government’s rum production was reorganised under the state-controlled Cubaron SA in 1993, which promptly sold a 50% share of Havana Club to Pernod-Ricard. The deal involves Cubaron producing the product, and the French drinks giants promoting and distributing it, a move necessitated by Cuba’s struggle to break the brand into markets outside the former Soviet bloc in the latter 20th century. The success of the venture saw the partnership build a new distillery at San Jose de las Lajas in 2007. Ronera San Jose is the ageing and blending facility, and operates a two-column still to produce the low-proof aguardiente constituent of the Havana Club blends. These are vatted with the high-proof “destilado de caña” distilled at Cubaron’s Ronera Santa Cruz, which it opened in the 1970s. The Santa Cruz plant can also produce aguardiente, and all Havana Club production took place there prior to 2007. Cubaron still operate the original Cárdenas distillery too, but no Havana Club is made there now.