Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Papa's Pilar Rum: What Would Hemingway Do?

"I have drunk since I was fifteen and few things have given me more pleasure. When you work hard all day with your head and know you must work again the next day what else can change your ideas and make them run on a different plane like whisky? When you are cold and wet what else can warm you? Before an attack who can say anything that gives you the momentary well-being that rum does? The only time it isn't good for you is when you write or when you fight."
--Ernest Hemingway

Hemingway was a hard drinker, a man who loved a great variety of alcohols, from whiskey to rum. Due to his many years living in Cuba, he became a fan of Cuban rum, including cocktails such as the daiquiri and mojito. There is some indication though that as he was a diabetic, he preferred that his cocktails were not made with sugar. Now, the Hemingway family has helped to create a rum that will evoke the adventurous essence of Papa Hemingway.

Papa’s Pilar rums, now available in Massachusetts, are named after both Hemingway's nickname, Papa, as well as the name of his fishing boat, Pilar. “Two of my Dad’s favorite rituals were hunting buffalo and enjoying rum, especially a Papa Doble,” said Patrick Hemingway, the second son of Ernest. “From the liquid to the intricacies of the bottle, Papa’s Pilar pays homage to a great man and arguably the world’s greatest adventurer. My Papa would be proud.” The Hemingway family is even donating their royalty profits to "organizations that embody the likes of adventure, literacy, and conservation."

Currently, there are two varieties available: Papa's Pilar Dark (about $39.99) and Papa's Pilar Blonde (about $29.99). The bottle is meant to resemble a WWII canteen with a closure that resembles an etched compass. The company purchases a variety of rums sourced from Florida, the Caribbean, and Central America. Those rums are then aged, using a Solera process, in used Bourbon and Port barrels, blended and then finished in Sherry casks. This is an intriguing process, blending different rums, of different ages, in three different types of barrels.

Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.
--Ernest Hemingway

I received small, sample bottles of both of their rums and was pleased with their taste, both on their own and in cocktails. The Papa's Pilar Dark, at 86 proof, is composed of rums, aged up to 24 years, that were created through both pot and column distillation. On the nose, there are intriguing smells of spice and honey, caramel and salted nuts. The smells are reflected in much of the complex taste, with deep flavors of caramel and earthiness, strong spice and vanilla, and notes that will remind you of Bourbon and Amontillado Sherry. I used some of this rum for a Dark & Stormy cocktail, and it worked well with the ginger beer.

Papa's Pilar Blonde, at 84 proof, is composed of rums, aged 3-5 years, that were created through column distillation. This was a counterpart to the Dark, a light and crisp rum, with a pleasant nose of citrus and vanilla, with salty notes. On the palate, the rum presents a nice melange of citrus, pineapple, vanilla, and honey with a subtle, underlying earthiness. I enjoyed this on its own, though it would also go well with more fruity cocktails such as a daiquiri or mojito.

Though it might be easy to dismiss these rums offhand as a marketing stunt, using Hemingway's memory as a mere lure, tasting them should convince you that these are solid rums, with intriguing, complex tastes sure to please rum lovers.

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