This post is not about whiskey, but it is about one of the most delicious beverages I have ever tried. It's something I brought back from my recent trip to the Caribbean and just opened up for a taste this evening. The drink is called La Occidental Guayabita del Pinar Dulce and it's a sweet, cane liquor (like some rums) with flavorings from the guayabita (literally 'little guava') fruit of western Cuba. This drink has been produced commercially since 1892 but hasn't spread far beyond its home town.
I had not been able to find much information on Guayabita del Pinar before opening it, but from the little I'd read I was expecting more of an herbal-infused flavor halfway between gin and rum. Boy did it throw me for a loop when I twisted off the cap to find one of the sweetest, most candy-like flavors I've ever encountered. I'm not a big fan of super-sweet drinks, but something about this one is very nice. It's smooth and creamy and nutty and fruity all at the same time and all in perfect proportion. It's like a tootsie roll, some almonds, and a jolly rancher (grape?) got mashed together and then any sourness or bitterness was sucked out leaving only sweet, fruity, nutty, chocolaty smoothness. It is so smooth in fact that I might not guess it had any alcohol based on a quick taste, much less 30%. Sorry to gush, but this stuff is unique and very good, try to get your hands on a bottle!
I enjoyed my first glass of Guayabita del Pinar over a bit of ice while reading up on the product's history here. Turns finding detailed information about it in English is tough, but if you speak Spanish you can learn a thing or two on the back of the bottle or on a few Spanish language sites around the web. One thing that is clear in any language is that Guayabita del Pinar is a tough product to find anywhere outside of the region where it's produced - a beautiful region I might add as you can see in the photo below. So I'm going to have to nurse this one bottle to make it last as long as possible. If you know of anyone headed to Cuba tell them to max out their liquor quota on Guayabita del Pinar - decent rum can be bought anywhere, but this unique tipple is worth the hassle of finding it and bringing it home. There's also a dry version of Guayabita del Pinar out there and I'd love to hear from anyone who has tried that. Given that sweetness is by far the dominant characteristic of what I'm drinking I can't imagine how a dry version could maintain any of the same flavors, but who knows. Cheers!
p.s. There's some sort of object in the bottom of my bottle. It looks like a prune with a stem, but I assume it's a guayabita. In a few months when all the juice is gone I'll have a taste of the little guava.