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Tiki Central Forums » » Tiki Drinks and Food » » Bacardi Is to Bring Havana Club Rum Back to the U.S.
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Bacardi Is to Bring Havana Club Rum Back to the U.S.
JTD
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Joined: Apr 07, 2003
Posts: 407
From: J'ville
Posted: 2006-08-08 12:02 pm   Permalink

In today's news...

Bacardi Is to Bring Havana Club Rum Back to the U.S.

By VANESSA O'CONNELL
Wall Street Journal
August 8, 2006

Bacardi Ltd., in a move aimed at blocking Cuba from eventually bringing its rum brand to the U.S. market, is expected to announce today that it is relaunching Havana Club brand rum in the U.S.

Bacardi's action comes just days after the U.S. Patent and Trademark office on Aug. 3 notified Cuba, which has controlled the brand since 1959, that its Havana Club trademark "registration will be cancelled/expired." A few days earlier, the U.S. Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control had denied a Cuban government agency the license needed for U.S. trademark renewal.

These decisions made it difficult for the Cuban government to claim any rights to the trademark in the U.S., giving Bacardi the chance to act.

The battle between Bacardi and Cuba over Havana Club has its roots in Fidel Castro's takeover of Cuba in 1959. The newly installed Castro regime seized control of Cuba's rum industry, including both the Havana Club and Bacardi businesses. Bacardi's owners left Cuba and rebuilt their business using their Puerto Rico plant, but Havana Club's original owners didn't have any alternative factory to continue making the rum -- allowing the Castro regime to retain control.

Until 1993, Cuba made Havana Club rum primarily for domestic consumption and the Soviet bloc, but that year Cuba struck a deal with French liquor concern Pernod-Ricard SA to sell the rum in 80 countries. Since then the rum has become popular around the world -- except in the U.S. where the trade embargo blocked sale of Cuban-owned products.

While Cuba hasn't been able to sell Havana Club in the U.S., it obtained the U.S. trademark in 1974 when the brand's original owners inadvertently let the U.S. trademark lapse. With the help of the powerful anti-Castro lobby, however, Bacardi in 1999 persuaded lawmakers to change trademark law to prevent the U.S. from renewing trademarks for brands whose ownership was confiscated by the Castro regime.

For its part, Bacardi says it owns the rights to the Havana Club brand based on its attempt to launch Havana Club on a very small scale in the U.S. years ago, as well as a deal it says it made with descendants of the brand's original owners. It also has a pending application to register the Havana Club mark in its own name, according to Bacardi USA spokeswoman Pat Neal. She said the closely held company has been planning to relaunch Havana Club for at least three years.



 
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Humuhumu
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Joined: Aug 22, 2002
Posts: 3612
From: San Francisco
Posted: 2006-08-08 12:22 pm   Permalink

The important thing to note there is that the actual rum is not coming to the U.S., just paper labels that have the Havana Club marks on them. This also dashes any hopes of our getting the real deal here, at least under that name (not that the hopes were high). The rum will be more of the same Bacardi crap. Just what we need, more Bacardi crowding out quality rums on the shelves.

If someone knows differently about the situation, please correct me. I'd love to be wrong on this one.

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Swanky
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Joined: Apr 03, 2002
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From: Hapa Haole Hideaway, TN
Posted: 2006-08-08 1:07 pm   Permalink

So, does this mean I can get Havana Club in some other country, like Mexico?

 
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Humuhumu
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From: San Francisco
Posted: 2006-08-08 1:08 pm   Permalink

I think Havana Club (the real deal) has been available in Mexico for some time, but I'm not sure. It's definitely been available in Canada.

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thejab
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Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 2986
From: Tradewinds Apartments, Alameda, CA
Posted: 2006-08-08 1:47 pm   Permalink

I'm skeptical like Humuhumu on this. Havana Club puts out a superior product. Perhaps it's because Havana Club hasn't changed while Bacardi has (I don't know because I haven't found an old bottle of Bacardi to compare to HC). Just because it's called Havana Club doesn't mean it will be good.

Yes, Havana Club (several varieties) is available in Mexico. I have brought back many bottles without being caught.

Here's a related story that came out in 2002 when the Mojito Club flavored rum was introduced:

Quote:

Mojito Club: Everything's Cuban but the rum itself
CubaNews / August 2002

By Larry Luxner

Six years ago, French drinks giant Pernod Ricard S.A. — which produces Havana Club rum in a profitable venture with the Cuban government — sued Bermuda-based Bacardi & Co. Ltd. But Section 211 has effectively derailed the lawsuit.

Even so, Pernod Ricard continues to accuse Bacardi not only of stealing the Havana Club trademark but also of deceiving its customers into thinking that Bacardi’s Bahamian-produced rum actually comes from Cuba.

“Bacardi produces rum in several countries, including Mexico, Puerto Rico and Europe,” complains the official Pernod Ricard website, “and sells it by playing on a supposedly Cuban image, carefully maintained by ambiguous advertising campaigns.”

Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

Earlier this year, Pernod Ricard USA rolled out Mojito Club — a citrus-flavored, rum-based spirit distilled in Venezuela and bottled in Mexico.

Yet tourists who have been to Cuba will notice that the label on each bottle of Mojito Club — right down to the lettering, coloring and icon of its La Giraldilla logo — is nearly identical to that of Havana Club, which Pernod Ricard can’t sell in the United States due to the embargo.

Mojito Club is already available on liquor-store shelves in New York, Los Angeles, Baltimore and South Florida. It retails for $13 per 750-milliliter bottle and also comes in 50-milliliter and one-liter sizes.

Pernod Ricard, which reported $4.5 billion in 2001 sales, says Mojito Club “takes its inspiration from one of Cuba’s oldest drinks, the famed mojito cocktail,” and that it expects “the recent Latin cultural sensation sweeping America” to boost sales considerably.

“Flavored rums continue to be one of the hottest categories in distilled spirits, while young, urban sophisticates across the country tout the mojito cocktail as the next big drink,” hypes a press release written by New York-based Hunter Public Relations. “Mojito Club will further drive this booming trend, offering consumers a bottled embodiment of the passionate, sexy, free-willed Cuban experience.”

Asked why her three-page release glosses over the drink’s true country of origin, Hunter PR account executive Mara Flynn says it’s not “pertinent” to the story.

“I think it’s very clear that Mojito Club is not from Cuba,” she told CubaNews. “We’re not really concerned that people will make the mistake [of thinking that it is].” Jorge Rodríguez, a spokesman for Bacardi Corp. in Miami, wouldn’t comment on Mojito Club, though Mark Orr, a top executive with Pernod Ricard USA, says one thing has nothing to do with another.

“The root of our lawsuit [against Bacardi] was the use of the word Havana for a product they were producing in the Bahamas,” said Orr, Pernod Ricard’s Washington-based vice-president for North American affairs. “I see that as a distinct issue that had arisen between our company and the Bacardi folks.

“Obviously, Bacardi can’t make rum in Cuba these days, yet Cuba is a big part of their heritage, and that’s where their rum started,” Orr said. “Many people continue to think Bacardi rum is made in Cuba. That’s one of the problems Pernod Ricard S.A. has encountered around the world in marketing Havana Club, which is of Cuban origin.”

Havana Club — sold by Pernod Ricard in 88 countries — is among the world’s fastest-growing spirits brands, with first-quarter 2002 sales up 6% over the same period last year.

According to the Impact Databank, Havana Club sold 1.85 million cases worldwide in 2001.

Orr wouldn’t give any figures on Mojito Club sales either by volume or value, nor did he make available any specific information about where in Venezuela the rum is being distilled, or where in Mexico it’s being bottled. All he’d say on that subject is that Pernod Ricard USA complies with all federal labeling regulations.

“The mojito is a cocktail, not a geographic place. It’s enjoyed throughout the Caribbean and Latin America, and we don’t necessarily suggest that the product itself is of Cuban origin,” Orr told us. “Several companies are now producing mojito cocktails of one kind or another. For whatever reason, mojitos are quite popular these days, and a lot of folks are trying to take advantage of that.”

In a recent product review, the Miami Herald had nice things to say about Pernod Ricard’s latest concoction: “Packaged in a frosted glass bottle, its label sporting an image of La Giraldilla — the bronze weathervane that tops the Castillo de la Real Fuerza in Havana — Mojito Club is a tart, lime-flavored citrus rum that can be served either straight up or in a cocktail like the Cuban Cosmo.”

Asked if the introduction of Mojito Club is just a marketing gimmick to prepare American rum-drinkers for the day when Havana Club will be legal in U.S. bars, restaurants and liquor stores, Orr had this to say:

“Pernod Ricard looks forward to the day when it can sell Havana Club in the United States, but who knows if that day will ever come? Nobody thinks it’s going to happen anytime soon.”



 
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bb moondog
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Joined: Apr 18, 2006
Posts: 492
From: Gilbert AZ
Posted: 2006-08-08 2:07 pm   Permalink

I bought some of that in Cabo cuz i wanted some liquor to bring back to the states and I was near broke--i think it was $5 or something...needless to say, get back in the US and OF COURSE the customs guy snags it IMMEDIATELY...I didn't even THINK about the embargo--I just thought PRICE

 
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Pepe le Tiki
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Joined: May 09, 2005
Posts: 325
From: Vancouver, BC
Posted: 2006-08-08 2:35 pm   Permalink

Wow, just had a conversation about this with a fellow from my neighbourhood liquor store. He said as far as he knows, this only applies to the rights & distribution in the USA. The Havana Club we buy here in Canada and elsewhere in the world will still be produced in Cuba and distributed by Pernod Ricard....what a relief!

 
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GatorRob
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Joined: Aug 20, 2004
Posts: 1770
From: 3 hrs 33 mins to paradise
Posted: 2006-08-08 4:02 pm   Permalink

Is this wrong of me? But when Castro recently went ill and ceded power to his brother, the first thought that came to my mind was "Havana Club... maybe we'll be getting Havana Club soon". I don't know, this news about Bacardi doesn't excite me. Just a label on a bottle of Puerto Rican rum from Bacardi. And if the real deal ever does get legal in the U.S., will this keep Cuba from selling it here? I doubt they would be willing to sell under a different brand name. Maybe they would.

 
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Pepe le Tiki
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Joined: May 09, 2005
Posts: 325
From: Vancouver, BC
Posted: 2006-08-08 7:31 pm   Permalink

FYI - This is from the Pernod-Ricard website:

Press Release - Paris, France - 8 August 2006

On the 3 August 2006, Havana Club was notified that it had not been given authorisation to renew the registration of its trademark in the United States. This trademark had been legally registered in the United States since 1976.

This decision, by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), was made in compliance with Section 211, a retroactive regulation condemned by the World Trade Organisation (WTO). This decision is a further episode in the long standing process of defending Havana Club rights in the U.S.

Havana Club is one of the world's fastest-growing rums. Since the creation of the joint venture between Cuba Ron and Pernod Ricard in 1994, Havana Club’s sales have grown from 300 000 cases to 2.4 million cases in 2006.

The success of the brand is primarily built on the quality of the product, made unique thanks to:
- The only use of Cuban sugarcane,
- A special method of distillation and ageing developed in Cuba by the Havana Club master blenders of our Cuban partner.

To guarantee these conditions of quality the Cuban government has produced a stamp of authenticity which must be present on the Cuban products to avoid any consumer being misled as to the origin.

In line with its policy of taking action against counterfeiting, Pernod Ricard will vigorously defend its rights, and those of the consumer, by appealing to the relevant Court against the rejection of the application to renew the U.S. trade mark registration and against any use of the Havana Club trademark for any rum which is not Cuban.





 
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Chip and Andy
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From: Corner table, Molokai Lounge, Mai-Kai.
Posted: 2006-08-08 7:39 pm   Permalink

Can any of the Canada or Mexico O'hana hook us up? Ship in plain brown wrappers and such...... PPPPPLLLLLLEEEEEAAAASSSSSEEEEEEE..........
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Humuhumu
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Joined: Aug 22, 2002
Posts: 3612
From: San Francisco
Posted: 2006-08-08 7:42 pm   Permalink

A must-read for anyone interested in learning more about Bacardi's shenanigans with the Havana Club trademarks (it ain't pretty):

http://blog.humuhumu.com/2006/04/05/the-sometimes-dirty-history-of-rum

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Swanky
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Joined: Apr 03, 2002
Posts: 5034
From: Hapa Haole Hideaway, TN
Posted: 2006-08-09 06:29 am   Permalink

They do say, they have an agreement with the original family and the original recipe for Havana Club. But, they probably had the original recipe for Bacardi!

I'll definitely bring a bunch back from Mexico on my next trip. They never stopped me from bringing back Cuban cigars, so, no worries on the rum. Besides, it's the Mexicans that really check my bags and they don't care.
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pappythesailor
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Joined: Jul 07, 2005
Posts: 1564
From: Mass.
Posted: 2006-08-09 06:47 am   Permalink

Quote:

On 2006-08-08 12:22, Humuhumu wrote:
The rum will be more of the same Bacardi crap. Just what we need, more Bacardi crowding out quality rums on the shelves.



I don't think that's fair. Plenty of recipes call for silver, Puerto Rican rum and Bacardi is excels in that role and is cheap. That's not to say their other rum is all wonderful.


 
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Bargoyle
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Joined: Mar 18, 2004
Posts: 1025
From: Tolland, CT
Posted: 2006-08-09 08:37 am   Permalink

I think the Jury should still be out on this one.

To condemn the Bacardi corporation for a product no-one has seen or tasted yet seems a little premature.

I've heard stories that once the Cuban government took over the Havanah Club distillery, that the quality of the rum went right into the toilet.

Perhaps the bacardi product, following the original recipe, will actually be better??

I guess maybe its just fashionable to bash Bacardi these days? Too many tv ads from a company who is far too successful.

ALso, I've got to agree with Pappy ...for what it is, bacardi is fine (although I usually use Cruzan...I like it better & its cheaper) and mixes great in most coktails (when called for).

And maybe, just maybe, in this free-market society of ours, that if/when the cuban embargo is lifted, the competition between distilleries will cause a massive upshift in quality (rather than just adding mango juice or whatever the "hot" flavor is) and expand our choices as consumers. With Castro on the outs, its just a matter of time.

As far as Havanah club, I guess its a matter of how you look at the situation.

Do you side with the communist -based dictatorship that took the assets of a family, changed the recipe, and reaped a fortune on its confiscated distillery?

Or do you side with the money hungry desendents of a once great product trying to cash in on a name with huge conglomerate, worried only about how much cash they can make?

I'm too cynical to judge until I can swill em both, side by side.

Just my 2 cents.


 
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thejab
Grand Member (first year)  

Joined: Mar 25, 2002
Posts: 2986
From: Tradewinds Apartments, Alameda, CA
Posted: 2006-08-09 10:38 am   Permalink

Quote:

On 2006-08-09 08:37, Bargoyle wrote:
I've heard stories that once the Cuban government took over the Havanah Club distillery, that the quality of the rum went right into the toilet.



You obviously have not tasted Havana Club rums then. Not that I blame you, they're not easy to obtain in the U.S. But, the next time you're out of the country go in a bar and try some (most bars outside the U.S. stock it).

I don't have a problem with all Bacardi products (their 8-year is a good rum for the money), so perhaps they could make a good rum called Havana Club. But, with their track record - silver Bacardi is pretty awful stuff compared to Cruzan, Myers's and some other clear rums - I'm not holding my breath.


 
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