Authenticity & Age: Old Havana Rum

When it comes to inspecting any bottle, there are 2 things which are foremost on an Appraisers mind: Authenticity & Age.

In this instance, we are going to look closely at the details of a purported Pre-Embargo bottle of Cuban Rum (Ron)...

In initially reviewing the photos of the bottle below, there is nothing on the main label that is comparatively different between this one and the many others in my files which span the 1930-1950s.

There are however 2 items to note, that may give us some dating well as bringing up some concerns about the authenticity of the contents of the bottle!

The first item is the Security Bond Amount shown on the Cuban Tax Strip, which shows 35,000,000 pesos... This would indicate that the bottle was produced at some point after 1945, when Cuban Distillery Bond amount was raised from 30 million pesos to 35 million.

The second item of concern is with the “glass marks” on the bottom of the bottle itself..

The bottle in the fourth image bears a glass-mark inscription of “Domecq Pedro Jerez“, which is a sherry producer from Spain, thus indicating that the bottle was originally produced to hold Spanish Sherry: Therefore, it was either relabeled to make it look like it an Old Havana Band Rum, or was actually refilled by the distillery using a ‘recycled’ bottle (a highly unlikely prospect since the distillery used custom ordered bottles for their products).

Dated examples in my files show that the bottles produced between 1929-39 were marked with the inscription of “Cia U. Vinos y Lic. S.A. - Havana Cuba”, bottles from 1939-42 show the inscription as “Cia Unida de Vinos y Licores SA - Havana”, and bottles from 1943-60 show the inscription of “Ramon Del Collado - Habana Cuba”...(The distillery was nationalized under Fidel Castro shortly afterwards.)

Many such ‘re-labeled’ bottles have appeared over the decades, only to be opened and found not to contain the contents that were advertised on the labeling....

During prohibition, a common trick used by traveling swindler’s, was to take an unused whisky label and apply it to the outside of a bottle of vinegar, which was then sold to unsuspecting buyers....after which the swindlers quickly left town.

The same trick was been used for decades on tourists in areas of Mexico, Cuba & the Caribbean, who wanted to take home bottles of Rum & Tequila as they were returning to their home countries....later opened and found to contain cheaper versions of the same spirits they had tried while on vacation.

In the late 1960’s & early 1970’s, the same trick was again used in Hawaii where returning tourists were sold rather pricey bottles of the local distilled spirit called Okolehao ...only to open it at home, and find the bottle actually contained nothing more than cheap bourbon.

My best estimate is that the bottle above (top) is a refilled bottle, produced sometime after 1945, and most likely does not contain authentic Old Havana Brand Rum... (It was quite probably sold to a tourist returning home from a trip to Cuba.)


Walter C Hurst

Top images posted by Adrianging

So... what do you think? Please leave me a comment.


  • easmits: A fascinating read, I love period fakes and these old swindle stories :)
    My thoughts on your other blog don’t need to apply here. The more knowledge & facts about these, the merrier.
  • Vale: Thanks Walter for another great blog! I imagine some people may not realize they were swindled if they never tasted the product they bought beforehand, maybe they would just think that’s what it tasted like?
  • wchurst: Vale,
    I’m quite sure that many people have experienced such without ever realizing it... It does take some tasting experience to learn to identify the particulars of any spirit, and few people have the opportunity to repeatedly taste various bottles of the same spirit.
    The same holds true also in the world of Cuban Cigars, where tourists are conned into purchasing "genuine" (fake) Cohiba’s in a number of countries... If you haven’t smoke a number them before, you simply wouldn’t know the difference between the two!
    Glad you guys like to Blog here...I’ll try to keep working on more of them, as time permits :-)
    Walter C Hurst
  • Vale: I agree, I think a lot of people get tricked.

Add Your Own Comment:

By clicking 'Submit' you agree to the Site Terms
By entering this site you declare you are 21 or older, you read and agreed to its Terms, Rules & Privacy and you understand that your use of the site's content is made at your own risk and responsibility. Copyright © 2006 - 2018 Drinks Planet