Cuba's largest distillery awaits the lifting of the U.S. embargo to market the world-famous Havana Club rum to the United States. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
It is here some 45 minutes outside of Havana that is home to of the world-famous Havana Club distillery. It's part of a joint venture between the French group Pernod Ricard, and Cuba Ron. International Managing Director Jerome Cottin-Bizonne calls it an unbridled success. (SOUNDBITE) (French) HAVANA CLUB INTERNATIONAL MANAGING DIRECTOR, JEROME COTTIN-BIZONNE, SAYING: "It's a real success. In 1993 the brand sold around five million bottles of rum in the world and today we sell around 50 million. We started with six employees based here in Havana and today there are more than 550 on the island of Cuba. So, it's a real human adventure as well as a very large commercial success." With the thaw in US/Cuban relations, high hopes for the future says plant manager Andre Leymat. (SOUNDBITE) (French) INDUSTRIAL PLANT MANAGER IN SAN JOSE DE LA LAJAS, ANDRE LEYMAT, SAYING: "And we have prepared ourselves well. We aren't going to say what we are going to do, but we already have the precise idea of what we would like to do today and we have prepared ourselves." One thing they will have to do if the hope to sell in the U.S. -- is find a new name for its rum. In 2012, the French group gave up the Havana Club trademark in the US, after years of battle with its rival, Bacardi. The hope is Cuban rum by any name will still taste as sweet.