All: I happen to run across this old blog, dated back to March of this year, my apologies for the late response. However, I felt your conversation needed some fresh information.
Unfortunately, as with so many other successful Cuban companies, the Alvarez family (present brand owners and descendants of the original founders) fled Cuba with the rise of the Castro regime. Matusalem is now bottled and produced in Santiago, Dominican Republic where the environment – weather pattern, sugar cane, soil and water - is most similar to Cuba. Still, the same recipe and strict standards that were developed by the company’s founders remain the foundation of Matusalem Rum. Matusalem Rum has always been recognized as a premium/super premium rum….and it is considered globally as one of the best tasting rums in the world.
Now having cleared that up, Matusalem Rum, or we should say, the “real” Matusalem is not sold in Cuba and has not been sold since the brand owners, the Alvarez family, moved out of Cuba and went into exile in 1960.
However, up until 2002 or so Matusalem Rum was being made in Cuba by the Castro government. In 1960 the Cuban government nationalized the plant (without compensation -compensation unresolved) and began producing a copy of Matusalem, actually a bad imitation. The Cuban government not having the original family formula could never reproduce the quality rum that Matusalem produces today in the Dominican Republic. Even so, the June 1999 issue of “Cigar Afficionado” stated that Matusalem Añejo Superior was still considered the best rum in Cuba, a testament to the to the strong brand recognition that Matusalem had in Cuba pre-Castro. The Cuban government was not able to export Matusalem Rum since the Alvarez family owns the worldwide trademark.
That being said on the back label it clearly state that Matusalem Rum is today bottled in the Dominican Republic, where many Cuban cigar makers went and now produce Cuban seed cigars. The Matusalem message has always been that they produce a “Cuban Style” rum. Rums from Jamaica, Martinique, Virgin Islands, Haiti, and Barbados all have a style unique to their island.
There are other rums being produced in Cuba, Havana Club the better internationally known. There are other less known brands like Varadero, Ron Santiago and Caribbean Club that are considered acceptable rums in Cuba. You may also find on a list somewhere Los Marinos Paticruzado. This trademark is also owned by the Alvarez family, but also confiscated by the Cuban government.
Matusalem Rum is clearly not a cheap imitation being produced in DR….it is the original, and it is the best.
I hope this helps.