Since I wrote recently about the Hemingway Daiquiri, I thought it was time to review the rum associated, albeit tenuously, with the man.
Sanctioned by the Hemingway Estate, Papa’s Pilar Rum came on the market in 2013. “Papa,” of course, was Hemingway’s moniker. “Pilar” was the name of his fishing boat (and the nickname of his second wife). Together, they are intended to convey the rugged, adventurous spirit of the famed writer.
When you see the presentation of this rum, you know some thought went into it. It has a distinctive shape, designed to resemble an infantryman’s canteen. (Remember, Hemingway was an ambulance driver in World War I.) The cork top, engraved with a compass, is chained to the bottle, just as it was on a solider’s canteen. It’s not a very practical design for a booze bottle, but it’s a pretty one.
According to the producers, Papa’s Pilar is a blend of both pot-distilled and column-distilled rums from the Caribbean, Central America, and the United States. It is aged in ex-bourbon and port wine barrels, then finished in Spanish sherry casks. Finally, it is blended in Kentucky.
You’ll note that the bottle has a big “24” on it, but this rum is not 24-years-old. It is aged through the solera system, where spirit from a new barrel is mixed with spirit from an older barrel, aged for a while, then mixed with the next oldest barrel, and so on down the line. As a result, some of the rum in this blend might be 24-years-old, but by no means the bulk of it.
Papa’s Pilar Dark Rum has a strong aroma of brown sugar and cinnamon: sweet, dark, and rich. The flavor is sweet initially, with lots of vanilla, caramel, and citrus. Then the spice starts to come on, cinnamon and anise, balancing it out. It finishes on the dry side, medium-long, and slightly astringent, with the influence of the sherry aging making itself known.
A lot of rums remind me of other rums, but this one is unique in that regard. I wouldn’t be surprised if, under the great rum sun, there is another brand that tastes like this. But whatever it might be, it doesn’t leap to mind.
Papa’s Pilar is bold and pretty damn close to being one-of-a-kind. Just like Hemingway himself. I think he would have been quite happy to drink this rum.