The bottle: Don Papa Rum, $ 40
The back story: When it comes to rum, we tend to think of the Caribbean, where the warm weather lends itself to the easy-to-enjoy, cocktail-friendly spirit. But rum is made in other parts of the world, from South and Central America to even the mainland U.S. We’ve written about rums from Louisiana and Colorado.
Now, there’s a new contender in town: a rum from the Philippines, Don Papa.
Actually, the rum-making tradition in the Philippines goes back more than a century, according to Chris Rigby, a spirits-industry veteran who helped establish Don Papa and is heading up marketing efforts in the U.S. for the brand. But the country has tended to focus on un-aged, cheaper rum that was intended mainly for the domestic market. With his business partner Stephen Carroll, Rigby sought out an aged rum in the Southeast Asian country and found one producer who had stocked away some barrels. Don Papa was born.
The brand began by distributing first within the Philippines. The response was strong enough that Don Papa soon made its way to Europe. Now, the rum has come to the U.S., where Rigby is hoping its flavor profile, which is decidedly on the sweeter side, will appeal to Americans consumers. So far, the U.S. sales figures have been encouraging. “In two days, we sold what we normally sell in a month,” says Rigby.
What we think about it: We’re fans of aged rums, which can take on the richness and complexity of a good whiskey or Cognac. Don Papa, aged seven years, can hold its own in the category. It’s a full-flavored sip heavy on both the sugar and the vanilla — indeed, some critics protest there’s too much vanilla. But we find it to be a warm and soothing drink — and a good excuse to explore more rum territory, geographically speaking.
How to enjoy it: This is a rum made for sipping neat. But the Don Papa folks say it can still be had in a cocktail. They suggest trying it in a Dark ‘n’ Stormy, the classic rum drink with ginger beer.