U.S. rum aficionados are abuzz over the possibility of mixing a Cuba Libre with authentic Cuban rum, now that they will be able to bring home liquor distilled in the communist nation.
And it’s unclear what the news means for industry titan Bacardi, which was driven from its Cuba headquarters by the 1959 Castro revolution. In the past, Bacardi has left the door open for a return to its homeland. But company representatives wouldn’t give details when asked Thursday what, if any, plans it has if the more than 50-year-old embargo on Cuban goods ends, now that President Barack Obama is working to normalize relations with the country.
“We hope for meaningful improvements in the lives of the Cuban people and will follow any changes with great interest,” the company said in a statement. Bacardi said it’s waiting to see what effects thawing U.S.-Cuba relations may have.
In 1997, Bacardi bought the legal rights to the recipe and name of Havana Club, a popular rum created in 1935 by a Cuban family who eventually fled the Castro revolution. Bacardi used the recipe and name for a rum it distilled in Puerto Rico.
But the name would become tangled in a long-running U.S. trademark fight with French wine and spirits maker Pernod Ricard.
Pernod Ricard, in partnership with state-owned Cubaexport, already had been selling Havana Club rum, distilled in Cuba, in other countries.
Nearly 20 years of legal arguments followed. Ultimately, a court ruled that Bacardi would be allowed to continue selling its Havana Club in the U.S. In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review that decision, giving Bacardi’s Havana Club rum its final green light for American sales.
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