Santiago de Cuba Rum Finds a Powerful Ally in Diageo

By Aurelio Pedroso (Progreso Weekly)

HAVANA TIMES – Experts tell us that Santiago de Cuba Rum is better than the much ballyhooed Havana Club. And now, with its new commercial agreement with a renowned multinational corporation, drinkers from more than 180 countries will find out the truth once it is sold and marketed everywhere.

The decision was a long time coming. And whomever made it must have thought of the saying, “If a window of opportunity appears, don’t pull down the shade.” Under the British company Diageo‘s umbrella one finds the best selling brands in the world. They include Johnnie Walker, Smirnoff, Baileys, J&B, Don Julio and Tanquera. Santiago now joins other prestigious rums such as Pampero, Cacique, Captain Morgan, and the excellent Zacapa.

I wonder if in the contract creating this mixed company, the English side of Diageo will lend us a hand in that same old problem of ours where something is always lacking. The subjects in question here are the corks and the bottles, or the containers and labels, even if these do not constitute part of the deal creating the new Ron Santiago S.A.

In these times of so much shortage where all sorts of needed products appear and disappear, Cuban rum, be it the one found in shopping centers bought with the dual currency or in our national currency, has never been lacking from our store shelves. And it’s often been the rum, with its unique qualities, attributes and colors, that has brightened our spirits in the middle of a painful desolation.

Some other regionally produced products that are not well-known nationally have resurfaced, as did the Phoenix, with a new look and quality, for example the Pearl of the North, which, incidentally, does not identify who manufacturers it. There’s also a rum produced in Vueltabajo, Pinar del Rio, that pairs beautifully with the area’s tobacco and rum, and that incorporates a seal that reminds of the well-known Guayabita del Pinar which comes in either dry or sweet. From what I’ve heard, they all look forward to corporate partnerships from abroad.

And it is a fact that rum has mastered the duality of use that brings both joy while lowering one’s timidity. It fulfills important functions both when celebrating a birth or during a wake or burial. More than once have I seen an empty bottle lying in the solitude of a cemetery pantheon. Santiago’s new partners can now claim to be able to drink less, but better.

The quality of the Cuban rum is unquestionable, and that’s according to the rum masters and other specialists. They claim that the sugar cane juice in Cuba is sweeter than others in the region. And that is a good starting point for a higher quality alcohol. The rest is skill, knowledge and the good intentions of the manufacturers.

Juan González Escalona, Cuba Ron S.A. director, in his statement before the press after the signing of the agreement, proved to be a well-versed and knowledgeable executive. Slowly and coherently, without notes or written speech, he praised the work of the Cuban masters and the qualities of our rum. He spoke openly of the lack of money to promote, advertise and market the product. Hence, he emphasized, the importance of the new agreement signed that in its first phase will take us to 2030.

Meanwhile, Lucas Cesaranno, who will lead the new enterprise, was also very precise but cautious when asked about the capital invested. “We are not going to talk about this,” he said in perfect Spanish. On behalf of Diageo and in the face of President Trump’s latest decisions, he clarified that “all measures have been taken and that they have acted in compliance with U.S. regulations.”

A memorable day indeed was held in the Nacional Hotel’s 1930 salon. And the celebrations came to a close as they should, with a refreshing Cuba Libre infused with Santiago rum. The merger between the Cuba Ron S.A. Corporation and the English Diageo should prove to be profitable for both sides.

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9 thoughts on “Santiago de Cuba Rum Finds a Powerful Ally in Diageo

  • Santiago Rum is well above any of the standard rums sold in Canada. To even put Captain Morgans in the same conversation is moronic. Santiago Rum is by far the PREMIER rum in the whole of the Caribbean. I would EASILY buy 10-15 bottles a month (I collect rum and have been traveling to Cuba since 2007). BRING IT TO CANADA POR FAVOR!

  • Prestigious rums such as Captain Morgans. I love Santiago Rums. Even splurged for a 25 year old bottle once. Saying Capt Morgan is prestigious is an insult to all rums. I in Canada would gladly welcome Santiago over Havana Club. Send us Perla as well or Mulata. Please.

  • I share your wish for the freedom of your people Hector. Like you, although not Cuban, but privileged to be married to one, I support family there, always taking two cases of various provisions with me. Casual tourists to Cuba seldom experience or observe the daily living conditions that you and I know. Yes, you are entitled to the odd luxury – and in Cuba, rum is certainly appropriate. We always keep an open bottle in our kitchen and family and friends know that they can help themselves. How I wish that they could have the communist shackles removed and experience life in a free society

  • Carlyle I am Cuban and born there. I have family their that I support with money, and the 50 pounds of stuff I bring them. I drank my first bottle with my Cuban best friend and I took him his family my family and other to eat foods they haven’t eaten in years or more. I have gone in the last 2 years over 6 times. Most of the time the quilt doesn’t let me but anything for myself. But sometimes I buy myself something because I work hard. More than anything I wish I could give freedom to my people.

  • This Hector is an observation, not a criticism! When purchasing your 12 yr version of Santiago rum in 2017, did you even think that that sum equates with THREE MONTHS minimum wage in Cuba?
    It has been interesting watching the Cuban state operated rum companies mimicking the promotional marketing abilities of the capitalist Scottish malt whisky producers developed long prior to the Cuban revolution.
    Obviously the purpose was not to tempt the palates of Cubans – who can never hope to have the resources necessary to enjoy such luxuries, but to find another way of extracting money from the despised capitalist system – for without that, where would the “socialismo” system achieve sustenance?

  • I tasted this rum on my first trip in several yrs back in 2017 the 12 yr version 50$ CUC. And I got 12 yrs Havana club 150$ cuc. And Santiago taste better but is harder to find. I hope to get the 20 yrs Santiago that’s 100$ cuc next time. Good news for this great rum

  • Cuba is pathetic. My parents had the where-with-all to leave in 1960. An island of incredible beauty and a truly amazing home grown culture, Cuba is what America is headed to : HELL, if the socialist rabble continues in murica.Greets from Dystopic NYC

  • Is this a chink in the anti-capitalism rhetoric of the Castro regime?

  • I agree God wants me to be Happy that is why he invented Santiago Ron. Jake Le Blanc Canada. Can’t wait to see it on our shelves

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