Exploring Cuban Rum with César Martí

Exclusive RumX interview

César Martí talks with us about how he makes Eminente's Gran Reserva Edition N°1, focusing on his Cuban background and classic rum-making methods. We also introduces an upcoming RumX masterclass, offering an exclusive opportunity to sample and learn about Eminente's rums.

17 November 2023

Cheers RumX family!

We've got something new on the horizon for our Cuban rum enthusiasts. Typically, Cuban rums, especially those with a Spanish touch, haven't been the main talk in our community. But now, there's a bit of a buzz. The latest rums from La Confrérie du Rhum (RX16159 & RX16160) and the Eminente Gran Reserva Edition N°1 have caught our attention. This new rum from 'Isla del Cocodrilo' brings a high aguardiente content, which could offer a different taste than what we're used to.

César Martí, the youngest master rum maker in Cuba, is behind Eminente. In our exclusive interview below, we talk about his background in rum making and how it's influenced Eminente's unique style. And hey, if you're curious to try it out, 40 community member can win a seat in an exclusive online masterclass. Read on to find out more about César and Eminente, and how you might get to taste this new rum.

Disclaimer: At RumX, transparency is key. In addition to collaborating with shops in our new RumX marketplace, we will also team up with selected producers and we are excited to announce Eminente as our first major partner. Their sponsorship will support the long-term development of your favorite rum app. Soon, we will introduce other carefully curated producers and independent bottlers that align with our core values. You can expect insightful behind the scenes articles and exciting masterclasses, without neglecting the essence of RumX: the independent review platform. We are looking forward to the upcoming masterclass and your unbiased reviews and tasting impressions.

Exclusive RumX Interview with César

Our interview partner César MartíCurious about what makes Eminente stand out in the world of Cuban rums, we had the chance to exchange with César Martí as part of our partnership with Eminente rum. We hot the chance to learn more about César as a person, his approach to rum making and his vision for the Eminente brand. We are curious for everything that will come to us in the near future and are convinced that Eminente will find its fans in the growing world of rum aficionados.

RumX: César, as Cuba's youngest Maestro Ronero, how have your personal experiences and Cuban upbringing influenced the conception of Eminente rums, especially Gran Reserva Edition N°1 as the brand's new flagship?

César: Allow me to first of all say „hi!“ to the RumX community - many thanks for having me! César Martí here, Eminente's Maestro Ronero. Born in the Cuban heartland, surrounded by sugarcane fields, my childhood was steeped in rum-making. My family crafted their own rum, and my grandfather's time at his plantation sparked my passion early on.

I studied chemical engineering, then interned at a rum distillery, which only deepened my fascination. Under the mentorship of Don José Navarro Campos, I learned the craft over two decades. By 2020, with my doctorate in hand, I became Cuba's youngest master in this field.

My experiences – the vibrant life of the Cuban countryside, its people, and my personal journey – are bottled in Eminente rums. They represent the art, essence, and authenticity of Cuba. Eminente offers a sip of Cuba's intense yet joyful spirit, inviting you to a sensory journey through its lush landscapes. Every glass holds my life's work, my homeland's vibrancy, and the true spirit of Cuban rum.

RumX: Building on that, how does the production process of the new Gran Reserva set itself apart from the 7 year old counterpart?

César: Eminente Gran Reserva is a unique creation. It includes some of our oldest aguardiente, aged over 70 years, from the heart of Cuba. Our Gran Reserva 10-year rum uses advanced technology and processes. We preserve 80% aged aguardiente, and after an extra purification step, it's finished in French oak barrels for three months, adding to its complexity.

Gran Reserva is more than a step up from our 7-year Reserva; it stands on its own with a rich complexity and intense flavors, yet keeps the smoothness Eminente is known for. It's a nod to central Cuba's rich rum tradition, with a higher alcohol content of 43.5% compared to the 41.3% in our 7-year Reserva. Plus, Gran Reserva has a higher percentage of aguardiente, 80% in its blend, compared to 70% in the 7-year. It's a sophisticated rum, aimed at those who appreciate a premium, nuanced spirit, perfect for sipping or high-end cocktails.

RumX: You use a fermentation in American oak barrels (previously used for Bourbon). Why do you use this type of barrel for Eminente, and why don't you use French oak barrels?

César: In Cuban rum history, we've always used American oak barrels that once held Bourbon because they contribute to the classic profile of our rum. More recently, we've been blending this tradition with innovation by introducing French oak barrels into the process. Our 'Reserva 7 años' benefits from a variety of barrels, which gives it its unique character.

For the 'Reserva 10 años', we decided to start with the American oak barrels for fermentation and then finish with French oak, which adds an extra layer of sophistication. This mix enhances Eminente with a balance of both robust and delicate flavors. The combination of these barrels connects Cuban tradition with a touch of French elegance, making a product that stands out for its finesse and complexity.

César Martí on the quest for the perfect blendRumX: The Gran Reserva Edition N°1 is released at 43.5% alcohol content. Is this a natural outcome of the cask strength, or was there a conscious choice to adjust the ABV to this level?

César: In crafting Eminente's rums, we've thoughtfully set the alcohol content to enhance each rum's character. For Eminente 3, we chose 40% to keep it smooth, while Eminente Reserva 7 años has 43% to balance richness and drinkability. Our Gran Reserva 10 años stands at 43.5% to highlight its depth and intensity.

This isn't just about the strength—it's about capturing the essence of the aguardiente and the sensory journey it offers. The higher ABV in 'Gran Reserva' also means we add less water, keeping it close to the natural strength it achieves through aging and blending, preserving the rum's authentic flavors.

RumX: Let's dive into the craftsmanship of the Gran Reserva Edition N°1. You mentioned the use of your own sugarcane. How was the blending of the barrels executed, and how many different aguardiente barrels do you use? When do you add sugar, and how does this process work?

César: In Cuba, we have many sugarcane varieties, but we use six main types for rum making. Eminente gets its high-quality sugarcane from one company and high-sugar molasses from another. Our molasses are special, with more than 60% sugar and full of minerals, which we can keep for up to 5 years without losing quality.

From these, we make two kinds of rum: a light one at 95 degrees and our key product, aguardiente, at 75 degrees. This aguardiente is aged and then carefully chosen from different barrels. Some barrels are new, some have been used for a while, and some are over 60 years old. These old barrels give our rum its unique flavor and aroma.

Eminente's process is special because we don't add extra flavors, metals, or artificial things that others might use. We're proud to make rum the traditional way, which means no added sugar to our final product. This makes Eminente a true example of pure rum, offering a taste of Cuban culture with every sip.

Close up image of the new Eminente Gran Reserva

RumX: For the connoisseurs among us, how would you describe the taste profile of the Gran Reserva Edition N°1?

César: The "Eminente Reserva 10 años No. 1" shines with its clarity and a striking coffee-like hue. It greets the nose with a rich blend of sweet, fruity, and complex scents, layered with the elegance of white orange blossom, sandalwood, honey, and a touch of smoked oak. Tasting it is a journey from the first sip, a full experience of flavors that takes you through the Cuban landscape, giving you a taste of our native fruits. The finish is smooth, refined, and luxurious, with a depth and versatility that invites you to come back for more. It’s not just a drink, it's an aromatic and flavorful passage through Cuba.

RumX: We have witnessed an evolution in the premium rum category within the rum community. How does Eminente position itself in this sector? Are there any projects or plans for the brand with new references? How do you envision the brand in future?

César: Eminente is a brand that truly respects Cuban rum culture, aiming to be a leader in the premium rum sector. We're committed to making every bottle a standard for top-tier rums and showing off a new style of Cuban rum. We aim for our rums to be enjoyed on their own or in refreshing cocktails.

Looking ahead, we plan to keep innovating and bringing out new, even more, premium rums, limited editions, and younger options. We're focused on honoring over 150 years of Cuban rum tradition in everything we make, ensuring each new product shares a piece of Cuba with those who enjoy it.

RumX: We are familiar with the famous brands like Havana Club or Santiago de Cuba. How has Eminente sought its place in the market, and what, in your opinion, are the differences that set Eminente apart from other brands?

César: Eminente is establishing its presence in the rum market by introducing a distinctive 'central style' that sets it apart from other well-known Cuban brands like Havana Club and Santiago de Cuba. Havana Club is made in the west of Cuba and is typically a drier rum, often used in cocktails. On the other hand, Santiago de Cuba comes from the east and is known for its aromatic rums, which are considered more prestigious and are usually enjoyed neat.

Eminente combines the best of both the eastern and western rum styles to offer a new, 'central style' rum that can be savored alone or used in cocktails. This synthesis represents the expertise and the rum-making tradition of central Cuba, bringing forth a versatile and quality product that embodies both the strong cultural rum heritage and the innovative spirit of Eminente. The aim is to offer a premium experience that respects the longstanding traditions while introducing a unique profile to the market, thus creating a distinctive place for Eminente among Cuban rums.

Win a seat in our RumX masterclass!

After our revealing chat with César Martí about Eminente's Gran Reserva Edition N°1, we're excited to offer our RumX community a special chance to delve into these flavors themselves. César took us from his early days in the Cuban sugarcane fields to his mastery of rum, and now it's your turn to explore the essence of his craft.

Eminente has generously provided 40 sample sets for our community, each set showcasing 4 of their rums, including the much-talked-about Gran Reserva Edition N°1. If you're keen on exploring these rums, we've got a creative challenge for you. To enter the lottery for our exclusive Masterclass, answer this question in the comments below: "If you could create your own rum blend, what characteristics would it have?"

There's no right or wrong answer, just let us know your opinion or approach. We're picking 40 participants at random for this unique tasting. Get your comments in by 29.11.2023 23:59 CET. The chosen ones will join us on 20.12.2023, at 19:00 CET for a masterclass with us led by Karim, Eminente's brand ambassador.

We're excited to hear your creative rum blend ideas and to explore Eminente's world with you. It's more than just a tasting; it's a journey into the art of rum. Cheers to new discoveries and shared experiences in the world of rum!


Fancy a spot in our Eminente online tasting session on 20.12.2023 at 19:00 CET? Just tell us about your dream rum blend in the comments below. We're choosing 40 lucky participants for this special event. Dive into the flavor adventure with us!