A multimillion-dollar expansion of warehouses and bottling lines anticipates a reopening of the American market to the Cuban brand, said Asbel Morales, rum master at Havana Club International, a joint venture between the Cuban government and Paris-based distillerPernod Ricard SA. “We just need to know when we can enter.”
But that very prospect has inflamed a decades-old battle between Pernod Ricard, the world’s second-largest spirits producer behind Diageo PLC, and Bacardi Ltd. over ownership of the Havana Club name.
Pernod says a 1993 deal with the Cuban government gives it rights to sell the Cuban-made rum around the world, including the U.S., where sales of the brand currently are blocked by the 1962 trade embargo.
Bacardi, started in 1862 by one of Cuba’s oldest families, says it owns rights to the brand after buying it from Havana Club’s founding family, the Arechabalas, who, like the Bacardis, fled Cuba when Fidel Castro’s government nationalized the island’s distilleries in 1960. The distiller has sold rum under the brand name and made it in Puerto Rico off and on since 1995.
Expect a lot more of these in the future.
We talked about it in last week’s podcast.