Douglas Blyde discovers Don Papa’a port cask aged rum


illed as the first single island premium rum from the Philippines, Don Papa takes inspiration from Papa Isio, one of the foremost figures of the 1890s revolution which took place on the boot shaped, fertile, volcanic island of Negros Occidental, known locally as Sugarlandia. Distilled in small batches from noble sugar canes grown then ground on the mystical island, Don Papa was created by Stephen Carroll, founder of the evocatively titled Bleeding Heart Co.

A former Rémy Cointreau exec, Carroll fast became mesmerised with the idea of founding a rum brand a decade ago while on holiday in populous Bacolod city on Negros’ northwest coast. There, he heard stories recounted by islanders of how the humid isle produced particularly sweet molasses – its ‘black gold’. Rather than launch the first rendition of Don Papa in London, Carroll chose first to seed it in bars in the Philippines, keen to get the approval of the locals who had inspired them.

Carroll’s latest rum incarnation is the limited-edition Don Papa Port Cask, released this year to commemorate the quincentenaries of the death of Portuguese explorer and knight, Ferdinand Magellan, a daredevil who completed the world’s first circumnavigation in quest of the bounty of the Spice Islands. Matured amidst the foothills of Mount Kanlaon, this intensely full-bodied expression, best sipped not mixed, gains base notes of vanilla from ex Bourbon casks for two years before picking up a richer, spicier countenance, including savoury liquorice, tobacco and blood orange from five years slumber in ruby hued Port casks.

Already famed for its intricate labels, Don Papa has included aspects of the arduous three-year odyssey undertaken by Magellan on the Port Cask bottle, including sea serpents and flying fish. Get your ornate expression in store at Harvey Nichols and Chotto Matte, Soho, £70.

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