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Pernod Ricard taunts Bacardí with ultra-premium range for contested Havana Club brand

Published:  01 March, 2016

Pernod Ricard launched a new range of premium limited-edition Havana Club reserve rums yesterday, despite the recently re-ignited dispute for the brand's ownership with Bacardí.

The first expression in the Havana Club Tributo Collection to be made available is the 2016 Limited Edition created from a base of rums aged in 80-year old casks.

As with other rums in the range, only 2,500 bottles of the 2016 edition will be released, with each being individually numbered.

Asbel Morales, master rum-maker for Havana Club, will hand select the highest quality aged bases for each release from the Cuba-based distillery's historic reserves.

Morales said: "Creating the Havana Club Tributo Collection is a fascinating process, as each release will provide a new and unique taste experience, achieved through experimentation with rum bases from our reserves.

"By blending rums using very old and rare casks, we have been able to create an expression for 2016 with a luxurious amber glow, full-bodied fruit flavours and a long finish."

Further editions will be revealed each year at the annual Cuban Habanos Festival.

The range's premium visual identity has created by long-term Pernod Ricard design partner, Nude Brand Creation.

Bernard Gormley, co-founder of Nude, said: "The packaging was inspired by the wide variety of architectural styles in Cuba, in particular the Spanish baroque and the neoclassical, which complement each other so perfectly.

"The filigree and detailing intrigued us and influenced the graphics, along with the colour blue - the national colour of Cuba, and gold that enhance the luxury cues and on-shelf standout.

"The background pattern on the bottle label and gift pack was inspired by the ceramic tiles found in walkways, walls and floors of Havana."

The Havana Club distillery was seized from its owners, the Arechabala family, and subsequently nationalised by Fidel Castro's Cuban government when it came to power in 1960.

The brand is currently produced through a joint venture between Pernod Ricard and the Cuban government, which claims that the Arechabala family let its trademark lapse in 1973.

Bacardí, which produces a Havana Club-branded rum at its distilleries in Puerto Rico for distribution in the US, disputes this claim.

Bacardí argues that it legitimately acquired both the rights and the recipe to Havana Club directly from the family.

The US government, which has hitherto consistently supported Bacardí's rights to the name, recently granted a licence to Pernod Ricard.

Bacardí is contesting the decision.

Pernod Ricard's Havana Club Tributo Collection 2016 is bottled at 40% abv.

It will be available in just ten markets worldwide, including Cuba, the UK and China, from March.

It is expected to retail for around £250.