Havana Club taps Alex Kratena and Carina Soto Velasquez for bartender-only rum range

Kate Malczewski

Kate Malczewski

09 October 2019

The bartender and brand collaborations keep on rolling, this time in the latest instalments of Havana Club’s trade-only Professional Edition rum range: Edition C and Edition D.

Making their debut at Bar Convent Berlin (BCB), the two new rums are the result of a collaboration between Tayer + Elementary’s Alex Kratena, Quixotic Projects’ Carina Soto Velasquez and Havana Club rum master Asbel Morales. They join Editions A and B in the Professional collection, created in collaboration with Alejandro Bolivar and Nick Strangeway, respectively.

Kratena and Velasquez presented Editions C and D to BCB attendees on Tuesday, in a session called ‘Flavour revolution meets rum tradition’.

To kick off the project, the two bartenders travelled to Havana, Cuba, home of Havana Club, to gather inspiration and meet the brand’s team of rum producers.

‘We decided to bring some samples [of spirits] that we thought were exciting to try and taste, so the distillers could see where we were coming from,’ said Velasquez. They sat down with the team to try different products, talked to sugar cane farmers, and looked beyond the world of spirits for inspiration, meeting with local businesses including perfumers and fashion designers.

‘Travelling in the countryside visiting farms was something that impacted me deeply,’ Kratena commented. ‘We wanted to push the boundaries, but we also wanted to celebrate what makes Cuban rum interesting.’

Edition C

According to Kratena and Velasquez, the development process for Edition C was the more straightforward of the two. They wanted to surprise bartenders so they chose to make a gold rum, ‘which is generally underrated’, said Velasquez.

It’s a blend of young aguardiente and older rum bases, matured for up to 12 years. It comes in at a whopping 50% abv – Velasquez said that Havana Club had to get special permission from the government to make a Cuban rum that strong – but it wears its alcohol well.

‘You get butterscotch, tonka, marzipan from the rum, and I love the fact that the abv allows you to deliver all these flavours even used in a small quantity,’ said Kratena.

Edition D

For Edition D, Velasquez and Kratena wanted to make something ‘powerful, crisp and fresh, to make something that truly represents the sugarcane’. They landed on a 40% abv white rum that contains an aged base. ‘You’ll find [the aged base] in the oiliness and texture, but the flavour is a white rum,’ Velasquez explained. It’s fresh and fragrant, with a hint of herbaceousness and salinity.

POA, Pernod Ricard UK

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