Year of the Shaman

Emerging from its cradle in the heart of Negros, the new special edition label of the wildly popular Don Papa beholds a darker, bolder spirit

by Mio Borromeo

Emerging from its cradle in the heart of Negros, the new special edition label of the wildly popular Don Papa beholds a darker, bolder spirit


don papa 10 1

Photo taken from Stranger & Stranger (

The Don has come home.

Since the brand’s launch in 2012, Don Papa has been establishing its presence in sixteen countries across Asia and Europe with its trademark seven-year label, aged as early as 2004. At the end of last year, the Bleeding Heart Rum Company, the group behind the rum’s production, unveiled a special batch of spirits that had been kept in American oak barrels for an additional three years to produce a limited-edition Don Papa 10 label. The special release has garnered just as much acclaim as its predecessor from spirits aficionados and design enthusiasts alike with strong demand for the label in France, Belgium, the United Kingdom, and Germany and recognition for its bespoke packaging at the Adobo Design Awards, the 2015 San Francisco International Spirits Competition, and the 2015 Dieline Awards.

Designed by New York-based company Stranger & Stranger, the label itself can be seen as a natural evolution of the original packaging design as many of the features that set it apart—animals native to the Philippines peeking out of hidden spaces, the distinct brand logo and insignia of the Bleeding Heart Rum Co., and a personage we can only assume to carry the Don Papa name—recur in the new label, but with an aim to visually communicate a darker, bolder spirit. No longer conforming to typical rectangular borders, immediately notable is the label’s curled design, evoking the unchecked overgrowth of the jungle. From this we can discern the form of a male figure, now having grown equally unchecked, equally rebellious bristles, in which an unassuming tarsier has found a home. Don Papa has not just lost himself in the jungle; he has effectively become part of it.

According to Brand Manager Cristhel Molina, while the original Don Papa paid tribute to the historical Papa Isio, a revolutionary leader in Negros, the new label re-imagines Don Papa as a shaman, a mystical keeper of the connections between human and spirit worlds. Related ideas can only serve to drive this association further: rituals, healing spirits (and let’s not forget numerology) are right up Don Papa 10’s alley.

Like its predecessor, the Don Papa 10 showcases the perfection of the blender’s artisan craftsmanship, deriving the rum from the finest sugarcane Negros has to offer before being column distilled from some of the richest, sweetest molasses in the world. Following its decade-long aging process, the Don Papa 10 emerges with a dark amber color and a bolder taste, hinting oak, cacao, and dried fruit.

To round out the year of its special edition label, the brand is doing a week-long celebration of the Don Papa 10 by bringing in its International Brand Ambassador Matthias Cadeac D’Arbaud and Don of Cocktails, Davide Boncimino, winner of the first-ever Don Papa cocktail competition in the United Kingdom, for a cocktail tour in Manila. Apart from holding masterclasses and workshops, Davide and Matthias will be doing several guest shifts at some of the most popular bars around the Metro to showcase a wide variety of libations made with Don Papa 10.

The limited edition Don Papa 10 will only be available in select venues, wineshops, high-end hotels, and select retail outlets, including Kultura Filipino and RAMS.