Posted on

Don Papa Master Class

The final part of Young’s and Geronimo’s ‘Summer of Rum’ event that we attended this year was the Don Papa Master Class. This was in Lancaster Gate in the Mitre pub. Hidden beneath the Mitre is a secret speakeasy called Old Mary’s which was the venue for this master class. It’s a lovely intimate setting and was part of the servants’ quarters of the original house. A very cool back-story and their website can be found here. I would recommend checking it out for future events.

Everybody was greeted with a ‘Darker Don’ cocktail. This is the Don Papa take on the ‘Dark n Stormy’ cocktail with added lime and mint to differentiate it. A refreshing start to the evening which led me to have high hopes for the master class. Unfortunately, we were informed that the brand ambassador wasn’t going to make this evening. The amazing ladies who were making the cocktails were then forced to improvise a master class on the spot with 5 minutes preparation.

The ladies had some knowledge on the history of the brand including the specific island where the sugar cane is grown (Negros Occidental known as  ‘sugarlandia’). However this was a bit sketchy due to the preparation time available to them. Have a read of our review on the Don Papa 10 Year for some history on the Don and our opinions on that offering.

After this, the ladies decided to move the session along to tasting the Don Papa neat. This was done in heavy glass bottomed whiskey tumblers. I found notes of vanilla which come from the American Oak barrels in which it is aged and some sweeter notes of honey. It was a bit tough to get some of the more subtle notes due to the lingering ginger beer from the Darker Don cocktail which was overpowering the finish of the neat rum.

From here we moved to our second cocktail of the evening which was the Don Papa Negroni which they have named; ‘Summer is Coming.’ For this they used equal parts of Martini, Campari and Don Papa. This was stirred with ice and then poured into a new glass and garnished with rosemary and grapefruit. The difference in this master class was the fact they invited some of the guests to come up to make the cocktail in front of the crowd. This was a nice touch, which added to the very fun and enjoyable atmosphere that was emanating from the room. After a few of these were created, we were all treated to our own cocktail. I found this a bit too sweet for my liking and quite far removed from the classic Negroni. I felt it also lacked the punch I prefer in cocktails, but it was generally well received by the audience.

I was looking forward to meeting the brand ambassador and asking about their production process especially. Unfortunately this wasn’t to be. The lack of communication between the team left the onus on the ladies to try to deliver some sort of information to the crowd. I think they did very well in changing the session into more of a cocktail experience rather than a master class on the brand itself.

The event attracted couples, groups of friends and yours truly. A diverse mix, but everybody seemed to be having fun and enjoyed the Master Class together, being friendly and integrating well. This is very much a compliment to the chosen setting (Old Mary’s) and the lovely ladies presenting whose hard work helped to salvage the evening.

Posted on

Review 9: Don Papa 10 Year

“Welcome to the Don, that is Don Papa small batch rum, a premium rum, distilled in the foothills of Mount Kanlaon, Negros, Philippines.” Welcome indeed but don’t let the rather provincial nature of Don Papa’s homepage fool you. The Philippines is the world’s third largest market for rum (after the US and India) and according to this Forbes article, this brand is “Changing the Face of Philippine Rum”. Today, we’re going to sip and sample on Papa 10 Year. Inspired from the story of ‘Papa’ Isio, a hero of the Philippine revolution, Don Papa Rum is produced by the Bleeding Heart Rum Company (BHRC) founded by Stephen Carroll, a former Remy Cointreau executive.

The rum is distilled on a single island, Negros Occidental (also referred to as  Sugarlandia”) using the finest Negros sugar cane and aged for 10 years in re-charred American Oak barrels. This particular offering from Don Papa is a limited edition and was introduced in October 2015. Unlike its younger sibling it packs a slightly weightier punch at 43% ABV (compared to the small batch’s 40%).

The bottle has been designed by Stranger & Stranger who in the 2016 World Rum Awards won Best Limited Edition Design, Best Ultra Design and Best New Launch Design all for the Don Papa 10 Year bottle! They are no stranger to awards and have an impressive list which can be found here.

Don Papa himself is older on the 10 Year label, depicting his own aging and maturing process since the initial small batch offering. His gecko-monocle eyepiece is now accompanied by a thick, flowing beard on the Don’s face. The world’s smallest primate, the Tarsier, beetles, slugs and snails are joined by tropical birds in this Jumanji-esque design.  The bottle itself is very similar to the small batch; heavy glass bottom, curved shoulders and squat in nature. The elegant dark rum itself is visible to all as the glass is clear and uncoloured.

On my first sniff it is very light, much lighter than expected despite the higher alcohol content. I am met by warm oak notes and followed by some hints of sweet caramel, vanilla and candied fruits. My first sip of the rum sends it easily over my tongue where it warms the roof of my mouth with toffee and a gentle oak. Not overly sweet but very smooth and well balanced. A very tasty introduction which invites further investigation! As the rum sits for a few minutes it seems to have lost some viscosity and as a result the streaks seem thinner on my tumbler. On this sip the flavours have become deeper and stay with you much longer. The warmth found in the roof of your mouth initially has now travelled to the throat. The oak flavour steps up and there seems to be a sweeter influence of caramel complemented by an earthier, deeper cacao. Perhaps the re-charred American Oak barrels are lending an almost charcoal like edge to this dark rum.  The finish is long lasting and warming but not overpowering. This is where the dried raisin seems to have come through that was smelt on the nose earlier.

Don Papa 10 year retails at £40-£50, which is at the higher end for a relatively up and coming brand but we believe that Don Papa have produced something quite special here. Limited edition and a true 10 Year, this could become quite the collector’s item especially with the variety of talking points on the design of the bottle alone. RumCask recommends this for the left-field selection for special occasions.

Posted on

Rum From Asia?

As mentioned in previous posts, the bulk of rum produced today comes from the Caribbean and Latin America. However, rum can be produced anywhere that sugar cane grows which is over 70 countries worldwide. Brazil and India produce over 50% of the worlds supply. It would make sense then, that India and other countries in Asia also produce rum.

One of the main rums of India is known as Old Monk. It was launched in December 1954. Uniquely it has zero advertising and relies purely on word of mouth from the loyalty of its customers. It must have very loyal customers though, as it was the world’s largest selling dark rum until 2013. There are 6 different variations of Old Monk Rum, including “The Legend” which was launched in 2013.

The Philippines have one of the largest rum markets in the world. However, the bulk produced is geared towards low price points. High volume low quality mixing rums are what dominate that market. As a result, it was only a matter of time before higher quality rum was produced. Don Papa is one of those that have exploded recently due to its marketing campaign and superb packaging and bottle finish (It has won the double gold medal for packaging design and for product innovation at two different spirits competitions in 2013). In October 2015 they launched a new 10 year version to their range.

Nine leaves is the new Japanese rum brand, launched in 2013. Nine leaves use only the finest ingredients for its creation, including water refined from the Otowa Mountains and the brown sugar from Okinawa. It is the first rum brand to be domestically produced in Japan. Almost immediately after release, Nine Leaves won the silver medal for innovation at Rhum Fest Paris in 2014, less than 12 months after official release of its first product (Nine Leaves Clear) in June 2013. They have started exporting and distributing to France and other countries in Europe and North America.

The stereotype that high quality rum only comes from the Caribbean is fast being debunked by more than just the rum community. If you haven’t ventured out further than those areas I would suggest giving any (or preferably all) of these three brands a try. Or why not suggest one of your favourites below for others to experiment with?