We are celebrating the 150th anniversary of the birth in Cuba and for the world of Light Rum.
It was not a fortuitous event, on the contrary, was the result of tests carried out in Cuba during the eighteenth century to the tafia, version of the prevailing rum since the seventeenth century and whose origin is limited to Barbados (Rumbullión or Kill-Devil), Jamaica (Rum Jamaica), Guyana (Rum Demerara) and may include those manufactured in Martinique, Trinidad, among others; some made from molasses and other from cane juice, but all rough, hard and viscous rums.
The tafia in Cuba, authentic Cuban Light Rum precursor emerges as economic interest of holders of sugar cane plantations and sugar producers trying to get increasingly similar to Jamaica and English rum types. There are references that indicate that as early as 1820, Fernando de Arritola developed a similar spirit that could not developed on an industrial scale.
From the first still in Cuba, presumably owned by Juan Guilisasti in the eastern province until testing Arritola brandy, it emerged in our country hundreds -some very low production stills and other bigger, of stills. As a whole, during the 36 years between 1778 and 1820, the production of liquor increased to an annual average of 1 million 700 thousand liters. The ports of Havana, Santiago de Cuba and Cardenas used to export approximately 98% and therefore taxed at least 500 stills.
We wanted to make a cut in the decade of 1820-1830, because it is in this period that grows on the island a nonconformity with the quality of Aguardiente and brandy-rum produced in Cuba, because that were rough and tough when compared to those of grapes reach the metropolis introduced in the island, which also had acceptance over others.
Therefore, the Economic Society of Friends of the Royal Board of Public Works and the Royal Consulate, offered a reward at first to find a method of making a good rum, although the greatest aspiration in this attempt was to approach or maybe overcome the quality reference of other rums such as Jamaica, Demerara and Martinique.
There were many attempts, but also many failures, because no approximation satisfied the demands of a more refined and smooth rum. However, the production of brandy-rum continued to grow reaching from 1826 to 1850, an average annual production of 2,661,035 liters.
The main thing is that the concern had emerged and started the path that would lead to the discovery and development of light rum. These times and these disagreements were a driver to start making history with the Cuban rum engine.
The production brandy-rum in Cuba had to resist the many campaigns against it and repeated bans from the metropolis. Despite this, it continued to grow and have an average from 1851 to 1860 of astronomical figure of about 10 million liters per year.
It was previously noted that the very limited and costly consumption of grape brandy (to not presume calling him Brandie) by the call to improve the quality of the Cuban eau-de-vie- rum, encouraged a search for new methods and constituted a change of mentality and willingness of producers in Cuba. It is the when one of them outstands, Facundo Bacardi Masso, a Catalan who had arrived in Santiago de Cuba in 1830 with only 17 years. In 1843 he married a santiaguera mulatto woman named Amalia Lucia Victoria Moreau, who later claims the bat to be adopted as a symbol of the house.
Facundo and other brothers, engaged in Santiago de Cuba to various trade activities in search of the fortune that had brought them so far, decided to enter the brandy-rum and they associate for 12 years (1862-1874) to a distiller technician named Jose Leon Bouteiller experienced in the production of brandy.
We believe that one of the most powerful reasons for declaring Facundo as founder of Cuban light rum, is to have arouse that imitation of the West Indian rum that was not the way for the Cuban rum and had to try another concept, a "more soft and light "rum, something really different and not an improved or purified tafia. (FIRST JUMP) True to history, we have to leave a space for other valid engaged in trials, but of much less significance over time, including special mention for Manuel Isdral also born in Catalonia.
The quality of Cuban light rum developed at breakneck speed when compared to the quality development of other spirits that required a long time for this and perhaps because of this, some have preferred to present it as emerged by the action of a magic touch, when the reality shows that it was an accelerated historical process, but with an ongoing technical and cultural development.
With the first light rum that was produced, the producing company did not risk much. It was tested on the West Indian to obtain a softer rum but not far from them.
The soft and light character itself was gradually asserting in them, until in 1873 when a few rums are extracted from the oak barrels, which definitely characterize the light rum born in Cuba: smooth and pleasant to the palate, slightly dry, but also with some sneaky and sweet tenor and fruity aroma, which is identified by its origin with sugar cane.
Don Facundo Bacardi could briefly see the result obtained. He died three years later after having confirmed the new character of Cuban rum that had been born 11 years ago.
Again, it should be noted the presence of other rum producers, including Angel Bado Havana; and Jose Bueno and Felipe Guzman, both from Santiago de Cuba; who do not pass out in their efforts to develop light rum and it is shown by the presence of other rums produced in Cuba as far back as 1876 during the exhibition in Philadelphia.
Also, they are recorded as rums of the island the brands Camps and Hermanos Santiago de Cuba and Dussac Fandiño and Perez, both from Havana.
From 1878-1890 other inscriptions such as rums Cardenas Arechabalas appear; Canals, Meriño, García Ríos, Romañá and Domenech de La Habana; Rovira and Guillaume from Santiago de Cuba; Jacas from Guantanamo.
At the Expo held in Matanzas during 1881, Bacardí Portuondo got medals, as well as Hnos., Camps and Company.
In the 1888 Expo Barcelona is also awarded the El Infierno de Sagua la Grande rum. That same year, but in Brussels, the Tres Negritas rum joins the medal chart
The Cuban Ron is present in every universal exhibition that was held, shown by the medals won by Bacardi in Santiago de Cuba in 1893 Chicago; Ron Aldabó of Havana in 1897 Brussels, Paris and Madrid 1898 and 1910 1907; Mestre Rovira and Santiago in London 1908.
Cuban rum was growing not only in production and quality, but also in extends and was getting prestigiously known by the world despite the war in Cuba.
There were two exhibitions of particular and higher meaning: the first in 1895, the demanding "Bordeaux Wine Exhibition" where the Cuban rum fits for quality and establishes its "category" definitively; and the second in 1900 was the Pan American Expo in Buffalo where the extent of Cuban rum got asserted throughout the island with the presence of rums from Santiago de Cuba (Bacardi), Matanzas (Sainz Martinez), Caibarién VC stated (Girandó and Co.), Cienfuegos (Manuel Lopez and Justo Rodríguez), Camagüey (Pijuán and Hnos.), Gibara Holguín (Jesús Fernández), Guantanamo (Rodel, Gorgas Armengol, Brooks, Brunel).
While it is inevitable to ignore other producers, we do not want to omit: Planas, Alvarez Camps, Rovira, Castillo Lopez in Santiago de Cuba; Collado (with rum Caney) and Incera (with rum Ronda) both in Havana; Quiroga Alzola in Cardenas and Manzanillo.
To the triumphs achieved in the aforementioned exhibitions (and not all), we have to add two rums which reached the title "Supplier of the Royal House" (Bacardi and Romañá). It also increased the market presence of Cuban rum that in 1915 reached the figure of 3,260.000 liters of light rum approximately (360,000 9-liter cases).
During the first 20 years of the twentieth century many smaller producers disappeared or were associated syndic- commercially, so that between 1915 and 1920 they were reduced to large groups:
- Collado and Fuentes
- Licorera Cubana SA (also the Union of Cuban Liquors producers was created).
- Other Medium Non-Grouped Producers
Refer to this first part to stay that:
- In the emergence of Light Rum, from its predecessor "The Tafia" until birth, many producers participated, East to West.
- Don Facundo Bacardi was who, convinced that more than producing a good West Indian rum, it was better to try to produce a different and new, soft light rum and initiating the necessary qualitative leap.
- There were many producers who led the Cuban Light Rum, and made it known in the world, although Bacardí Rum gets the greatest prominence.
- There were a few significant production factories and many small productions.
- It became necessary to regroup the majority of small farmers in major production groups making less pulverized how to develop rum and future concentrations of production for higher quality.
- That is a historical reality that Light Rum was born in Santiago de Cuba and became known to the world for many other brands as light rum and Cuban.
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