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From the west to the tropics: Philippines’ premium rum draws inspiration from Magellan’s circumnavigation

It may not be sailing around the world like the Portuguese captain and his crew 500 years ago, but this Philippine premium rum is surely making its name known worldwide.

Don Papa is present, and quite popular, in Europe. It’s also available in the Americas and Asia Pacific. Of course here in the Philippines, too, where the sugarcanes used for each bottle come Negros.

“We originally launched Don Papa here in the Philippines back in 2012 with the express wish of establishing this brand locally, and have been developing the brand in-market ever since,” co-founder and managing director Andrew Garcia told Manila Standard. It caters to the premium rum market.

RICH AND RED. Don Papa Port Cask features a dark, spicy character with a warming, lingering fruitiness.
RICH AND RED. Don Papa Port Cask features a dark, spicy character with a warming, lingering fruitiness.  
Since its launch, the brand has introduced along its core products (Don Papa 7 Year Old, Don Papa 10 Year Old, and Don Papa Masskara) limited edition expressions including Sherry Cask, Sevillana Cask, Rye Aged Rum, and the latest, launched this year, the Don Papa Port Cask.

“Post Cask is no different than other products we’ve done in the past,” said Garcia. “We played around with different types of wood to bring out something new, something spectacular for you to enjoy.”

To achieve this expression, its makers double-aged Don Papa Rum in two different casks – two years in American oak ex-bourbon barrels “to give it Don Papa’s signature vanilla and fruit notes”, then transferred to port casks for five more years “to create an additional layer of complexity”. Port (vinho de Porto) is a dessert wine from the Douro Valley in Portugal.

The result is an intensely rich (40 percent ABV), smoky and spicy rum with a hint of sweetness and fruitiness. Its dark amber color – almost ruby – matches the intensity of its flavor. The vanilla and muscovado in the scent are like a gentle welcome to the fruitiness of the first sip that grows into warm, deep, spicy taste with hints of oak and coffee. From light and gentle to rich and bold.

While richer and more intense than Don Papa 7, Garcia finds no problem introducing this expression to new rum drinkers. He said, “We do not have a prescribed route to enjoying the Don Papa experience. If Port Cask is an individual’s first introduction to the brand, that is of course perfectly fine!”

“The dry, fruity, and spicy wood character of Port Cask is very similar to what whisky drinkers are accustomed to. The port character of the rum also makes this liquid attractive to wine drinkers as well, so individuals looking for these types of taste profiles should take a look at Port Cask,” he added.

Chef Victor Magsaysay’s (clockwise) Datu Cilapulapu de Mactan pinaksiw smoked lapu-lapu, Homage to Antonio Pigafetta porchetta, Ylang-ylang ng Gubat leche flan, and El Trinidad salted boat tarts.
Chef Victor Magsaysay’s (clockwise) Datu Cilapulapu de Mactan pinaksiw smoked lapu-lapu, Homage to Antonio Pigafetta porchetta, Ylang-ylang ng Gubat leche flan, and El Trinidad salted boat tarts.
Don Papa Port Cask, Garcia said, was ready and waiting in the pipeline for the past couple of years. “But we thought 2021 would be the perfect time to release this because this year is the 500th anniversary of the world’s first circumnavigation which coincidentally landed right here on our shores,” he shared.

The Port Cask limited edition is inspired by Ferdinand Magellan’s expedition in search of the Spice Islands. Even the bottle’s label reflects the aspects of the odyssey taken by Magellan, depicting the kaleidoscopic range of creatures and elements found on Negros Island.

Don Papa introduced its new expression via a dinner prepared by Chef Victor Magsaysay that arrived in a boat-shaped basket by Zacarias 1925. The menu included salted boat tarts, cold gazpacho with brioche toast, porchetta, smoked lapu-lapu, and ylang-ylang-infused leche flan. It came with two cocktails: Two Worlds (fig-infused Don Papa 7, spiced syrup, Peychaud’s Bitters) and San Lazaro (Don Papa Port Cask, Ferrand Dry Curacao, Cocchi Vermouth di Torino, Mancino Vermouth Secco, homemade grenadine).

Don Papa Port Cask is available at Ralph’s Wines & Spirits and Boozy.ph for P3,210 (70 cl).

Topics: Philippine premium rum , Don Papa , Chef Victor Magsaysay

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