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Pernod Ricard acquired its 50% stake in the Havana Club rum brand at the end of 1993. The joint venture was formed at a time when the Cuban economy was in a poor state due to the collapse of the Soviet Bloc upon which Cuba had depended for foreign trade.
Founded in 1878 by Don Jose Arechabala, Havana Club is the best-known brand of rum still distilled in Cuba. Arechabala left his native Spain for Cuba in 1862 and bought a small distillery in the city of Cardenas in 1878. Havana Club’s English spelling and easily pronounceable name was designed to appeal to an American audience. After Arrechabala died in 1923, his son took over the ownership of the company, then Jose Arrechabala SA.
During the late 20s and 30s many Americans flocked to Cuba to party in Havana, with many of them enjoying Havana Club. The Arechabala family business survived murders, a hurricane and extortion attempts, but in 1960 the Cuban revolution led to Fidel Castro nationalising the distilleries producing Havana Club.
The Giraldilla statue from Havana’s Castillo Real de la Fuerza appears at the top of the label on every bottle of Havana Club.
Havana Club rum is produced in two Cuban distilleries, one at Santa Cruz del Norte, east of Havana (built 1970) and the other at San José (built 2007). It is distilled using a two column continuous method from molasses and then aged in ex-Bourbon casks which are recharged prior to each filling.