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The Best Cuban Rums You Can’t Find in the States

Sip on these smooth cuban rums on your next visit to Havana

There’s nothing like winding down from a long day with an aged rum. The ingredients and the slow years of maturation tell the story of their creators and the land’s rich history, making rum not only a drink but an experience. 

havana club cuban rum

The provenance of Cuban rum goes back to the Spanish Empire, as early as the 15th century. The sought-after, smooth mix of aged wood, spices, and unique ingredients is amplified by how hard it is to find them.

If available outside Cuba at all, export has only begun over the last decade or so in the U.S., and Europe gets a slightly larger supply.

Best Cuban Rums

Cuban rum is meant to go with the finer things; savoring the moment.

If you like imagining yourself among an exclusive club- akin to JFK stockpiling his personal collection of Cuban cigars before the embargo- you’re going to love my list of 7 of the finest Cuban rums.

Havana Club Selección de Maestros

Every year, a select group of Cuban rum experts, the Masters, gather to make their selection of their finest barrels, and I have to agree with their choice when it comes to their Havana Club Selección de Maestros.

When it comes to rum, you have to taste with your nose just as much as your palate.

Havana Club Selección de Maestros has a rich, full aroma that coats your palate. Its wood-aged blend of pecan, cocoa, coffee, sweet tobacco, and brown spices, makes for the perfect mystique that surrounds my senses.

The Havana Club is amazing when complemented with candied fruit, chocolate, or dried raisins, on their own or atop hand-made ice cream.


Ron Cubay 10 Year

The Ron Cubay 10 year, produced by the same people as the Havana Club, has only been available outside Cuba since 2010, so many have yet to discover why it’s been considered their top yield since they established the brand in 1964.

Like any rare vintage rum, I like to take my time sipping their 10-year offering.

With its light mahogany tone and refined aroma, this rum probably appeals to a wider audience than some of the more complex flavors in this list.

It lacks the smoky, spicy depth other rums have. 

I’d describe it as a sophisticated take on a familiar taste, with a smooth, sweet flavor that doesn’t bite like younger, fruitier rums.


Ron Santero Añejo 11 Años

If a rum could taste like the richness of its history, that’s how I’d describe the Ron Santero Añejo 11 Años.

The label’s name originates in the creation of the Santería religion, meaning the way of the saints.

There’s a mystical atmosphere to this rum.

It romances the senses with the sweetness of its aged molasses, and like the best slow-yield Cuban rarities, it is blended for the specific purpose of enjoying in the back of a hazy room along with your favorite Cuban cigar.

The spicy, complex smokiness is smooth, and it’s more fruity than the oldest rums, so it’s a great blend of maturity and familiarity.


Santiago de Cuba 11 Year

I love the unique, distilled, sugary taste of the Santiago de Cuba 11 Year.

A lot of my favorite rums are meant to pair well with desserts that mix with the depth that comes from spices and years of refinement, but this rum to me is like tasting a hint of dessert stowed in a smoky mix of brown sugar and fruity undertones.

Santiago de Cuba has a complex, spicy, and smooth flavor that pairs well with an after-dinner cigar.

The unique blend of vanilla, coconut, dry almond, and sugarcane molasses offer a world-class flavor profile. 


Ron Varadero Añejo 15 Year

Nothing else I’ve tasted compares to this 15 year aged rum. It’s like tasting the past in all of the best ways one could describe.

This rum has a distinct musky flavor that comes from the oak barrels it is aged in. The deep, complex flavor matches the richness of its darker, amber color.

Like all of the best rums, this 15 year goes well with fresh fruits or fruits that have been baked in a delicate dessert.

As with many of these rums, your favorite cigar is a perfect match for this 15 year aged drink. 


Legendario Elixir De Cuba

I feel like the Legendario Elixir belongs in this list of the best Cuban rums, but technically it is a rum punch, not purely an aged rum.

It’s also unique in that the “legendario” term has become a more widely-used brand, and doesn’t only speak to this specific stock.

Most rum punches of its kind are aged 2-4 years, but what I love about this one is the unique flavors that can only come from a 7-year rum.

It is much sweeter than the others on my list, with a strong combination of the sugarcane’s molasses and white oak aging cask.

The complex fruity punch taste includes macerated raisins, caramel, and oranges, and it is the taste of pure genius if you’re looking for an explosion of sweetness instead of that wood-smoked spice and musk of the others.


Ron Mulata de Cuba, Gran Reserva Añejo

This is another rare 15-year-old rum that provest great things simply get better with age.

Sampling this cultured treat is like experiencing a taste of history, as its deep red-amber hue comes from maturing in amber barrels.

This aging process brings out a delicious blend of smooth, spiced muskiness.

While it shares some of the fruity sweetness of sherry, brandy, or cognac that are produced similarly, the 15-year Mulata is exceptionally smooth and soft. 


Best Cuban Rums

  1. Havana Club Selección de Maestros
  2. Ron Cubay 10 Year
  3. Ron Santero Añejo 11 Años
  4. Santiago de Cuba 11 Year
  5. Ron Varadero Añejo 15 Year 
  6. Legendario Elixir De Cuba
  7. Ron Mulata de Cuba, Gran Reserva Añejo

Final Thoughts

An amazing-aged rum is about the experience. It is the bouquet that you savor, the wood-smoked atmosphere, the appreciation of the slow aging process, and the richness of its cultural heritage.

I love to experience a place through its tastes and smells, and in every way, these Cuban rums give me a traveler’s experience even if I’m a few minutes from home.

I can’t stress it enough, that if you think a rich, smooth, woody spiced drink might be right up your alley, you owe it to yourself to try one of these 7 Cuban rums; the very best any country has to offer.

Check out our favorite rums to sip if you’re looking for something more easily available!

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Written by Erin B.

Erin lives in East Passyunk and enjoys checking out the local restaurants in South Philly and beyond. Her favorite restaurants are those with spicy food and outdoor seating so that she can bring along her dog, Miss Piggy.