Sign up now for SLTN Trade Tasting on 24th March for exclusive sampling of the soon-to-launch Havana Club Cuban Spiced
Part of the SLTN Trade Tastings series, the virtual event at 7pm on 24th March will see Liam Holyoak-Rackal, UK brand and cultural ambassador for Havana Club, host a tasting of Havana Club rums, including the new spiced rum which is set to be launched in April.
Operators and bartenders can sign up for the event here to receive a tasting kit containing samples of Havana Club 7 and the new Havana Club Cuban Spiced.
Ahead of the tasting, SLTN caught up with Liam for the lowdown on the virtual event, his role and the Havana Club range.
Which drinks have you chosen for the SLTN Trade Tastings?
– Havana Club 7 (neat)
I wanted to begin the tasting with a trade favourite and my personal go-to, Havana Club 7 year old. There is so much to talk about when it comes to this expression: its story, the first premium dark rum to be exported globally, the level of intricacies in its production. When we’re talking Havana Club, this is the obvious starting point.
– Havana Club Cuban Spiced (neat)
The new kid on the block! Set to launch in April in the on-trade, I’m so excited to share this exclusively with you all. It’s been a long time coming and trust me it is worth the wait. Fresh, vibrant and Cuban at heart, it’s tropical spice and all things nice!
– Havana Club Cuban Spiced and Coke
When you think of spiced rum, you naturally think of Coke. The two go hand in hand. I wanted to showcase the quality of our liquid, how it stands up next to this signature mixer but also how it tells its own story and shines through in this iconic serve. We’ve also taken a fresh approach with the garnish for this, finishing with pineapple to reflect the tropical notes in the liquid, and a pinch of rock salt to bind and elevate the flavours within.
What can bartenders expect from the virtual tasting?
Expect a journey into why culture is so important to Havana Club and rum as a category, how Havana Club is so unique in the world of rum, and an exclusive tasting of our brand new Havana Club Cuban Spiced!
How do you think rum will perform in Scotland’s pubs and bars going forward? What trends do you expect to see?
It’s clear to see rum is on the up across the UK and has been for the past couple of years, with five of the ten most popular cocktails containing rum. We’re seeing a surge in drinkers who are demanding quality liquid, and simple, classic serves – your Cuba Libres, Rum &
Gingers, Daiquiris, and so on. When we’re looking at spiced rum, pre-COVID, Scotland accounted for 12.7% of UK on-trade spirits volume, but 24.4% of spiced rum volume so almost double the share that you would expect Scotland to have based on its share of total spirits. Within that, I think there is definitely a demand for a new spiced rum that has complexity, body and fresh flavour to it. Enter, Havana Club Cuban Spiced…
What should operators and bartenders consider when deciding which rums to stock?
As the rum trend seems to be heading towards classic, simple drinks, I’d say sticking to the rums that shine in these serves is key. It is such a broad category with so many expressions, my suggestion would be to bring it back to basics. On the flip, flavoured/spiced rum drinkers seem to be looking for new experiences, new flavours and something against the status quo. This is where I’d get creative and look to expand your repertoire.
What does Havana Club’s portfolio offer?
Havana Club is a beautifully unique and versatile rum that really has a story like no other. The intricacies in production, the deep-rooted culture, and the quality in the liquid. It really is Cuba in a bottle and can be enjoyed in so many ways, it was honestly my favourite brand way before I was working at Pernod Ricard UK! Whether it’s in your most delicate cocktails or in the simplest of serves, the most important component is of course the rum, and Havana Club is the rum you want to be using.
How long have you worked in your role and how did you get started in the industry?
I have always felt a strong connection with the industry through my roots in music – gigging, playing and organising events from a young age. I got my first job in an east London pub as soon as I left college, working my way through the ranks and eventually running venues myself. I spent some time working in cocktail bars in Australia and Vietnam before returning to London and then joining Pernod Ricard UK just over a year ago now, with over half of that time spent as the ambassador for Havana Club.
What’s your favourite part of the job?
My favourite part of this job has to be the fact my passion has become profession and I’ve been able to mix two things in my life that make me happy: great drinks and music. I’m able to express my creative side through traditional brand ambassadorship (drinks development, masterclasses), whilst celebrating and supporting others through the cultural collaborations and the work Havana Club does with the creative industry.
What’s your most memorable rum and why?
For me, it has to be Havana Club 7. Everyone in the trade seems to have a story around this rum! Mine is pretty simple: wherever I worked throughout my time in the industry (UK and beyond), it always seemed to be the after-work drink of choice for the bartenders – and it is always on the back-bar.
If you could have a drink with anyone, who would it be, what would you drink and where?
So many in mind! Growing up, I was always obsessed with the UK grime scene, and I still am to this day. Get me Skepta, JME and Kano in a room, and a bottle of either Havana Club 7 or Havana Club Cuban Spiced. Say no more. Oh, in Havana, of course…