Originally rum first appeared in the Caribbean in the mid-17th Century, and the liquor rum was first called “Kill-Devil” by the English. The first known rum was coined at the beginning of the eighteenth century, derived from the English word “rumbullion“, which means “mayhem, causing trouble, fighting”, hence the name “rum”.
In 1872, the founders, Benjamin and Eduardo Camp and their partner Evaristo Alvarez believed that the key to making the rum with the finest flavor was under a process of patient aging. The name, Matusalem, derives from the old Spanish proverb, “This is older than Matusalem.” Matusalem being the patriarch of the old testament who lived for 969 years.
Matusalem Rum was founded in Santiago de Cuba in 1872. Almost immediately flocks of Barn Swallows nested in the barrel aging warehouses. The Barn Swallow, or in Spanish, Golondrina”, was a smooth-flying bird common to the area of Santiago de Cuba. Throughout the day it seemed Barn Swallows were everywhere, flying in and out of the aging warehouses. The swallow was also considered a free flying spirit, possessing beauty and elegance. The Matusalem founders thought it was an appropriate symbol and ultimately a most fitting logo for the Brand.
The period that went through the mid 30’s and early 50’s, was an era in which Cuba was the preferred destination for tourists, who were attracted by the island’s charm and its exciting nightlife. During this “Golden Era”, Matusalem was the most popular rum in Cuba, sharing a market share of over 50%. It was known that the gold rum market was lead by Matusalem, while a bat competitor controlled the white rum market.
Legend has it that Ernest Hemingway’s rum was Matusalem. There is a recipe called “Papa Hemingway” Cocktail:
Matusalem Rum, lemon juice, grapefruit juice, Maraschino Luxardo.
The original gold coin medals now shown on the face labels of Matusalem Rum no longer exist as they were lost when the Alvarez Family fled Cuba and went into exile in the USA in 1960. In this period the Cuban government confiscated and nationalized the Matusalem plant and offices along with all historical data, facts and memorabilia.
History of the medals:
The first medal awarded to Matusalem rum was at the Matanzas Fair in Matanzas, Cuba in 1881. The Matanzas Fair was dedicated to the celebration of Cuban agricultural and industrial achievements.
Matusalem Rum was awarded a Silver medal.
The second medal award was received at the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis, Missouri, USA. The exposition was renown as much for its entertainment as for its fine arts and national pavilions. The fair was very lavish. The fair hosted a wide array of liquor tasting competitions, introduced ice cream cones to the world & other exhibits.
Matusalem Rum medal was awarded a Gold Award.
The third medal award was awarded at the Gran Certamen Habanero in Havana, Cuba in 1911.
Matusalem Rum was awarded a Gold Award.
Today the fifth generation of the Alvarez family is managing the Matusalem brand.
We use a combination of white oak barrels on all our products. They include:
American oak (Quercus Alba) 53 gallons/200 liters.
French oak (Quercus Sessile) 59 gallons/225 liters.
The American oak is once-used bourbon barrel and/or new barrel, which come from a cooperage in the USA.
The barrels can be used several times.
The barrels are toasted or charred to different levels to achieve a preferred aroma and taste.
What differs from one brand to another within the Matusalem portfolio are the following:
The entire toasting of the barrels and the blending process is managed and controlled by the Matusalem Master Blender, which for over 145 years has consistently been assigned only to a Family member.
For over 145yrs the Matusalem’s recipe is derived from a Spanish technique traditionally used for the craft of the finest brandy, sherry and cognacs. This patient process called “Solera” creates a softer rum and with greater flavor than the rums of the competition.
Rum blends of varying ages are organized into a system of tiered casks. Oldest at base, youngest on top.
Number of tiers depends on master blender’s formula and style. It is the marrying of older rums with the younger rums. The longer the aging/blending, the better. The Solera number on the bottle indicates the average age of the rums used in the blend.
Today there are no more than six competitive rum brands from around the world that use Solera aging and mixture.