The Don Papa Rare Cask is the latest varietal of rum from the folks over at the Bleeding Heart Rum Company in Bacolod. And when they say “rare,” they mean it. Production is limited to just six thousand bottles worldwide, and only two hundred fifty of those bottles will likely be up for grabs in the local market.
This is the first rum Don Papa’s releasing without an age statement, which is kind of an interesting approach. They seem to be putting forward the idea that it isn’t just age that lends a spirit a premium quality. During the launch event, held at the Riedel Room in Makati, there was a lot of talk about the care put into the selection of the over-roasted American oak casks, how Don Papa’s master distiller personally chose each and every barrel that the rum was aged in. The barrels apparently once held Spanish wine, which is actually pretty unusual in the spirit making world.
It’s bottled at 50.5% abv, which is pretty aggressive. That higher alcohol content certainly makes its presence known on the nose, but past it lies a pretty profound sense of the maturity of the rum. It’s less sugary sweet than the other varietals of Don Papa, and generally more rounded. The first whiff brings a gentle raisin aroma, which develops into other dried fruit aromas with hints of nut and biscuits. There’s a little bit of camphor in there as well, a strange hint of coolness at the very tail end of the nose.
On the palate, the higher alcohol content once again makes its presence known, but develops into something dark and earthy. There’s fruit, but it’s dried fruit. It tastes far less tropical than one might expect from a Filipino rum. The Spanish wine makes an appearance somewhere in the midpalate, before giving way to some leather and smoke and just a touch of chocolate. There is a very clear sense that these casks were charred thoroughly, one almost getting a hint of embers somewhere inside the liquid. At 101 proof, the Rare Cask takes water pretty well. A few drops opens up the nose even further, making the fruitcake aromas come further into the fore. On the palate, taming the alcohol a bit makes the drink even earthier than before.
The question here is how one might get to taste this rum, and we don’t really have an answer. There are so few bottles of it floating around that it seems entirely unlikely that the average person will get to taste it. But one must take it as an indication of things to come. It is an exciting thing to simply note that Don Papa is experimenting with its rum, that it’s trying out unusual methods of finishing their spirit. This is likely just the first limited release of many down the line, and if you like rum, then you have plenty to look forward to.