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Issue 71 - Havana nights

Whisky Magazine Issue 71
April 2008


This article is 10 years old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

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Havana nights

Dave explores the delights of Cuba,its wonderful rum and a changing culture.

Someone has dropped mescalin into my mojito. At least it feels that way. Why else would there be white figures leading unicorns around a fountain in the dark, stones coming to life and bird people flapping past me in the moist Cuban night? Later, as I dine, the spectral figures slide across the floor looking through us. The drums start. Then the chanting.

Slowly every thread of Cuban myth, mystery and music is brought together. I'm still looking at my glass wondering if that's really mint as a garnish.

In the morning Havana seems the same: flags of washing, people shooting the breeze, plastercovered workers starting on the next restoration job and yet it's changed. Havana is a city which you remember through sound: rattling cars, horns, shouts, laughter, the gravelly rhythm of the cocktail shaker, endless renditions of the same old tourist favourites. Now that sound has greater depth. Last night showed that the Guantanamera generation is no longer in charge, that Cuba stretches from santeria to hip-hop, that this new generation of video artists and contemporary dancers, of myth-makers and shape shifters are playing with the concept of what ‘Cuba' is. That it is down to the support of a drinks brand is remarkable. Havana Club's new campaign ('Havana Cultura') is an attempt to both understand and articulate its roots but in a contemporary way.

How does that relate to whisky? Just replace Cuba with Scotland. Whisky, in its ‘mature' markets [United Kingdom, France, US, Jap...

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