Matusalem 15 Gran Reserva

Owner

Manufacturer:

Matusalem & Co. / 1872 Holdings International, LLC

Price approx:

25

Origins

Terroir:

Dominican Republic / USA

Regulations:

not specified

Classification

Style:

spanish

Gargano:

blended modernist rum
raw material

Raw material:

molasses

distillation

Distillation:

column distillation

aging

Aging:

solera, 15 years

sugar added

Sugar added:

5.7 g/L

alcohol by volume

Alcohol by volume:

40%

additives

Additives:

5 g/L vanilla beans and prune macerations

Pretext

The biblical Methuselah lived to the ripe old age of 969. It's intended that the brand's name  emphasizes the long-term aging process. Although the newly created company may at best express that intent. Anyway, the official website reveals that the flagship Gran Reserva Solera 15 was launched on the market at the same year when the Matusalem brand was created, i.e. in 1872.


A distillery is established in Santiago de Cuba and it's doing quite well. It flourished especially during American Prohibition gaining recognition and even took the lead in sales. In the mid-twentieth century fortune changed;  in six months both owners died and at the end of the decade, Castro nationalized the distillery industry. Family lost the distillery with a bottling plant and finally ran abroad (1961). They were arguing about the will, also in court.


The company doesn't cease production. With headquarters in the Bahamas, it produces rum on contract in Puerto Rico and Florida. In all this confusion product quality falls off.  Meanwhile, Cuban communists are producing their own Matusalem (later renamed Santiago de Cuba), which doesn't make things any easier. Ultimately, through an out-of-court settlement, the rights to the brand were acquired by Dr.  Claudio Álvarez Salazar (1995). A wealthy doctor places a company in Florida and contracts a Dominican distillery. Which one? It was kept secret. So which one? Ron Bermudez (of Santiago de los Caballeros).


Brand relaunch in 2002 was based on strong Cuban reminiscences. The latter may be an euphemism. Pernod Ricard (50% joint venture with Cuba Ron SA) sued Matusalem for acts of unfair competition and infringement of the rules of geographical indications. 


The court ruled that Matusalem was misleading customers by placing the word 'Cuba' in the center of the bottle, enlarged, gold-plated and framed. Furthermore, it's not appropriate to advertise a product with the term 'Spirit of Cuba / Espiritu de Cuba', since the product is made entirely in the Dominican Republic. For this reason the producer had to change the bottle's appearance. They say one swallow doesn't make a summer, but really there are two of them on the labels.


The defendant, well, defended himself: there was a note that the product was made in the Dominican Republic, even if in fine print; and after all, they have the right to be proud of their Cuban heritage. Besides, the competitors are simply envious. Bacardi commented somewhat dismissively on the case too, but they have their own issues with Pernod Ricard.

Procedure

In 2016, a production plant was established in Monte Plata, Dominican Republic. The rum comes from column distillation and is molasses based. Aging proceeds in slightly burnt bourbon barrels. Cuban DOP regulations require double maturation, which Matusalem doesn't comply. The same about artificial additives, like  macerations and extracts, which were found by Refined Vices ('~ 5 g / l Vanilla Beans and Prune Macerations').


Finally, some manufacturer's declarations: angel's share - 4.5% per year, added sugar - 5.7 g / l, the average age of the solera blend - fifteen years. 🥕

Aroma
Bouquet was not officially specifed.
Vanilla, plum, wooden texture. Pudding, candied cherries.
— as examined by RumExam
Taste
Bouquet was not officially specifed.
Bitter orange, sweet cocoa.
— as examined by RumExam
Afterburn
Bouquet was not officially specifed.
Milk chocolate.
— as examined by RumExam
⁖Reviewed on: October 21st, 2021