7 years in ex-bourbon casks
Alcohol by volume:
The current presence of Havana Club 7 was created by the London-based studio Pearlfisher in 2016. The "Look" essentially aligns with my taste, both visually – harmonising a visually striking combination of black background with gold typography, circular logo, and distinctive La Giraldilla – and informatively – providing clear and accurate indications of origin and age. Furthermore, I find pleasure in exploring the brand's design objectives, placing particular emphasis on their articulation to sniff some marketing splendour.
The main theme is encapsulated in the notion of "exuberant craft", symbolising “the extroverted energy of Cuban people with the artistry inherent in the rum’s production”. The creators argue that “Visual language based on black panels screen-printed over vibrantly illustrated Cuban scenes elegantly communicates the depth, mystery and sultry sophistication of the Havana Club 7 experience whilst allowing the energy and optimism of Havana to shine through beneath text and border cut-outs”. The satisfied consumer concludes "As the leading 100% authentic Cuban rum brand available globally [...], this new bottle will bring our Cuban spirit to international Havana Club fans and spirits enthusiasts alike and continue to support our leadership of the super-premium rum category.”
As mentioned earlier, as an early millennial, I find the design appealing. Nevertheless, I observe that the "authenticity" of the Cuban image has been brought in from abroad. This has a certain symbolic dimension, although it concerns the packaging. Ultimately, isn't it the content that truly counts?
In 2018, Havana Club entered into a partnership with the creative agency Impero, "to start talking to the younger generation or risk getting left behind." Contrary to prevailing beliefs, it turns out that zoomers consume less alcohol than millennials, and notably, they lean towards beverages that are described as "enjoyable, tasteful drinks". The owner of the Impero agency explains that "Rum as a category has been obsessed with the hipster aesthetic and culture for long enough – it's a strategy that's on an extremely short life span" and opts for partnerships with influencers to integrate "street culture at the heart of the brand."
I refrain from assess the suitability and clarity of the proposed communication strategy with Generation Z, although it is certainly worth citing: “Our voice is Short. Sharp. On-point. We’re self-aware, and socially aware. Woke and witty. Bad and boujee. We're a little in-your-face. Other times we shut the hell up. Let our look speak for itself. When we do talk, we’re not going to explain it for anyone. If you don’t get it - pity. We’re not here to make you like us, cause, well… you already do. C U FOOLS.”
Oh, what a relief that I am not the target audience (simply because of age or whining). The only statement I still comprehend is that I am not here to please anyone. Now, my turn: I consider myself a rum nomad, always exploring, not necessarily with the goal of finding, though. I have this reflection that, willingly or not, there are some hipster elements in my passion for rum. I love rum because of sensations and overall for the flow, and at the same time because it swims against the mainstream.
Meanwhile, astute minds are contemplating the brand strategy, and let’s not overlook that millions are at stake. The creators of the brand image envision the target audience as follows: “We knew the younger generation was aligning with street culture and achieving status through exclusivity. The youth were looking instead towards brands that were powerful, visual and full of attitude that could inspire them.So we drew on our Cuban roots: bringing raw, low-fi and DIY aesthetics to Havana Club. We’d embraced the high-low lifestyle – bringing just the right amount of glamour to the streets, and bad-ass trashiness to the luxe. We’d be brand proud, embracing our identity with confidence, and most importantly… we’d not take ourselves too seriously”.
To me, it appears like a synthesising individuality and nonconformity (hipster vibes) with being at the forefront of events. Moreover, ”just the right amount of glamour to the streets, and bad-ass trashiness to the luxe” is a dimension that needs no justification. And you know what? It might actually work. However, does the youth act as an object or a victim shaped by reality? Do they even care?
The opening was about modernity and change, but it's crucial to acknowledge Cuba's rich and celebrated rum traditions. The roots of Havana Club 7 Años, formerly known as Extra Aged Dry, extend back to the 1960s. Notably, the credit for its inception is officially attributed to the legendary José Pablo Navarro, the first Maestro Ronero of Cuba.
Cuban rum is crafted from molasses, derived from sugar cane harvested between December and March. The process involves a 24-hour fermentation period and column still distillation in San José. The initial two-year ageing phase (not counted yet) ends with the filtration. Subsequently, aguardiente (74% abv) is blended with high-proof distillate (95% abv) and introduced to barrels made of American oak previously holding Wild Turkey or Jameson. The minimum seven-year ageing period begins at this stage. No additives are incorporated, though Alko reports a sugar content of 4 grams per litre.