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Ron Matusalem Gran Reserva

“Esto es mas viejo que Matusalem

In the 1800s two Spanish brothers Benjamin and Eduardo Camp, along with their partner Evaristo Álvarez, arrived in Cuba to establish Matusalem Rum in 1872 in Santiago de Cuba, where they used their knowledge of distillation and blending of sherries, brandies and wines to create a formula for rum that would be passed on to generations to come.

In 1912, when Benjamin returned to Spain, the company was left in the hands of his brother Eduardo and their partner, Evaristo who would soon unite their families through the marriage of Evaristos daughter and Eduardo's son, Claudio Álvarez LeFebre.

For the next 25 years LeFebre would the lead and improve the company using his expertise in rum production and administrative skills and in the 1940s LeFebre asked his son, Claudio Álvarez Soriano, to join the company. Soriano, schooled in the U.S., used his acquired management and marketing skills to help take the company to the next level of success by capturing 50% of the lucrative Cuban rum market.

In 1956 Claudio Álvarez Soriano's father Claudio Álvarez LeFebre passed away unexpectedly and only six months later Soriano himself died of lung cancer leaving the company without real leadership.

During the same year Fidel Castro renewed his guerrilla war against President Fulgencio Batista and in 1959 the Fidel regime took control of the Cuban Government and the family responsible for Matusalem was forced into exile making the days of Ron Matusalem, as a Cuban-based enterprise, numbered.

Today Ron Matusalem is produced and bottled in San Diego in the Dominican Republic, lead by Doctor Claudio Álvarez Salazar, the great grand-son of the founder who was rewarded with Matusalem & Co. in 1995 by an out of court settlement after a long family feud over the brand.

In 2001 Salazar re-focused the brand to produce only premium rums in an effort to return to the company's roots and in 2002 the brand was relaunched and a trio of new products were introduced to the rum market: Ron Matusalem Gran Reserva 15 Solera, Matusalem Clasico and Platino.

Ron Matusalem Gran Reserva is produced from molasses using the original recipe from Cuba and blended using the Solera process by the master blenders, who are all descendants of the company's founders.

"In the Solera blending process, rums of varying ages are organised into a system of tiered casks, with the youngest on top and the oldest on the bottom or "ground" level. When the lowest level or the longest aged "Solera" rum is ready, a limited amount is removed from bottling.

Rum from the next lowest tier is then moved into the casks below where it is "married" or blended with the remaining rum, ensuring consistency from one batch to the next. The process is repeated on each level until new rum is added to the top tier.

The Total number of tiers in the system depends on them aster blender's formula and style, and the blender varies the amount of time rums age in these casks to develop different types of rum."

Gran Reserva rum is Solera aged for an average of 15 years as suggested by the name.

If the reputation of Gran Reserva has not caught your attention yet then perhaps the awesome bottle will: Emanating with classic old world style the label of Matusalem looks like an old treasure map abundant with promise as it whispers your name from the rum shelf - I wonder what great treasure the dark bottle holds within.


The burgundy red cork pops cheerfully as I pull it out and the rum pours with an outstanding brightness and a golden amber colour. 


Extremely smooth, complex and warm with rich and enticing aromas of vanilla and roasted caramel. Hints of plum, toffee and a more evident smell of copper, which is often found in copper pot distilled spirits. 


Similar to the nose, Matusalem is sweet and full bodied with toasted flavours and vanilla upfront continued with caramel, a touch of oak with the occasional hint of plum, it is certainly not as light bodied as a lot of the Cuban rums. Incredibly rich and smooth, this velvety rum gives out only a little warmth as it drools down the throat. 


The aftertaste is long, warm and toasty with vanilla and creamy toffee that fade away slowly. 

Final thoughts

The same people who do not have access to Cuban rum often say, in a slightly regretting way, that Ron Matusalem is probably as close as they can get to real Cuban rum. This may be so but there is nothing regretful about being able to enjoy this rum while you wait for the Cuban rums to be available and when they are, I doubt you’d want to give up Ron Matusalem Gran Reserva 15 Solera.

Now, to pair it with a decent cigar…

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  • Details at a Glance


Details at a Glance

Country: Dominican Republic
Aged: Average of 15 Years Old (Solera)
Barrel(s): Ex-Bourbon
Style: Unknown
ABV: 40%
Hydrometer Reading: ~5 g/l sugar added
 ~5 g/l Vanilla Beans and Prune Macerations

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