By Alexander Britell
It’s hard to believe it’s been almost five years since Papa’s Pilar rum first made its debut.
The brand’s traditional aged rum, which is part owned by the Hemingway family and looks to exemplify Hemingway’s spirit of adventure, is a blend of rums from Florida, the Caribbean and Central America — and it’s long been a Rum Journal favorite, taking home Best New Rum in our Rum Awards in 2013.
While it’s still something of a boutique rum, Pilar (named after Hemingway’s famous fishing boat) has been able to win over both rum aficionados and, more importantly for the growing rum category, whisky and bourbon drinkers with an eminently drinkable flavor profile.
More importantly, Pilar was something that the rum world needed — a premium rum with the kind of story that could help win over those whose rum perception had been clouded by the likes of Bacardi and Captain Morgan — a premium rum that delivered, with the kind of marketing power and brand identity too few rums have been able to cultivate abroad.
But the company’s latest expression is something particularly special.
The Key West-based Hemingway Rum Company is introducing a limited release of a new Papa’s Pilar Sherry Finish, with 1,400 six-pack cases, and Rum Journal obtained a sample.
The Sherry Finish includes a blend of seven rums up to 24 years old (both pot and column-still products) aged in bourbon barrels, port wine casks and sherry casks.
The new expression, however, takes the blend and ages it in French Limouisin oak Oloroso Sherry casks for “approximately 30 days,” according to the company.
So what’s it like?
The rum has a slightly dark amber color, with an aroma of caramel and a hint of sherry.
The flavor profile has notes of brown sugar, oak, caramel, toffee, maple and an underlying nuttiness.
It’s exceptionally well rounded and balanced, but not without personality.
This has taken what was already a great rum and turned it into something else — a Pilar that’s richer, more full-bodied, and, well, sensational.
The first thing I thought was, “wow.”
In short, it’s a very strong contender for Rum of the Year, and a must for your rum cabinet.
Rum Journal Rating: 95 points