O Heaven, O Bliss, as close to perfection as you can get in the rum world – or many others.
Notes: This rum was one of the latest creations in a long line of rums created, distilled and blended by Don Francisco Fernandez after he left Cuba after being the Master Distiller and Blender of Havana Club rum for almost 40 years. One of the few people in the world to be accorded the title Maestro Ronero and an industry legend, this was one of his latest products in Panama where he is now based. He was instrumental in modernizing Cuba’s rum industry in the 1970s. After Cuba’s national brand was acquired, The new owners wanted to do a lot of, shall we say modifications, to the rum, and he was unwilling to compromise both his standards and the rum. He relocated to Panama, where, in the 1990s, he discovered a neglected distillery in the Herrera region, which he built into the Las Cabras Distillery, one of the most important and revered in the world. This is an eighteen year old rum is the middle part of the Origenes series of rum which also include an 8 Year Old and 18 Year Old expressions of Rums and are exemplary examples of the artistry of Don Pancho, and possibly his ultimate expressions of his art and passion.
The sugarcane for Origenes which is a very specific kind and only harvested after a long maturation, is hand cut which is a very labor intensive and dangerous process compared to running a large combine up and down a field scooping up whatever is in front of it.Origenes also uses a strain of yeast Don Pancho developed specifically for this rum ( he also has a degree in microbiology by the way on top of his many other accomplishments).
Origenes is like Don Pancho – Authentic, uncompromising, a rum like it was meant to be experienced. No additives, no colorings, no solera system. No Compromises, the way a rum should be, and the only way Don Pancho would put his name on it.
While Don Pancho has produced luxury rums for other clients, it is only in the last year that he believed the quality of his aged rums merited putting his own name on them. Don Pancho dates his rums by the age of the youngest rum in the blend, and he personally selects each barrel from his own prized collection, collected over many years.
The Las Cabras distillery was transformed by Don Pancho into one of the great rum distilleries in the world. Located in the Herrera region of Panama, it is set amongst the vast (600,00 hectares) sugarcane estates used to produce Don Pancho Origenes rum. Please check our adventure section for both photos and videos of our tour of the distillery and region.
Originally almost in ruins when he found it, The Los Cabras distillery has at its heart the sister still to the legendary Pennsylvania Michters copper column still that produced both Michters Whiskey ( in its original form in Pennsylvania – not the water Kentucky productions) and the equally if not more well-regarded Hirsch 16 and 20 Year Old Whiskey (which was produced at Michters and bottled years after the distillery shut down). This is the last known functioning still from this maker in the world and produces (with the help of Don Pancho) some of the best rums in the world. Production/bottling of this rum was extremely limited with a total of only 600 bottles produced – which makes it a LOT rarer than Pappy Van Winkle 23 Year Old or virtually any other limited or rare production spirit you could name.
Appearance: Clear, deep Baltic amber, Grade B Maple Syrup, or a rich well patinated mahogany or teak antique, with green ring on the surface that shows the extreme aging – this is not something you see everyday – even for me!. On swirling the rum leaves a whisper of a coating on the glass with a line of very small tears forming then going rapidly to larger droplets
First Impression: Vanilla, dark dried fruits, leather, oak, touches of allspice and a mixture of grassiness, chlorophyll, alkali and minerality overlaid by some molasses/cane honey, orange/citrus, dates, Armenian brandy fruitiness,
Taste: A lovely plush entry with pleasant oily overtones that has a dash of sweetness then dries nicely with a texture like a creme. Lovely dark dried fruit notes (fig,dates, raisins) combine with cane honey, spice,vanilla, tobacco,orange peel and musky cocoa notes that develop and intertwine with the nose to form a lingering and complex finish that is about as sensual as you can get while being fully clothed.
Drinks: Drinking this in anything other than a proper glass with as few thoughts and distractions as possible is the only way to fully appreciate the artistry and magic in your hand.
Bottle: Comes in a magnetic closure, heavy finished paper box with a padded sateen lined presentation when you open it up. Bottle itself is a heavy French (I think – very high sheen/finish) glass decanter that seems to be from a near cut mold with a solid glass foot at the bottom and a (mostly)square but slightly flared and curving outward shape without off edges and top shoulder line leading to s slightly short neck. Labeling is a metallic medallion with DP(for Don Pancho) in script,Top line in center “Origenes” and lower line Reserva Don Pancho.Near the bottom front is a simple but elegant black and red with white and gold script “Rare Panamanian Rum”Aged 30 Years along with size and proof. On the back paper label is the same color scheme with a short history/statement of Don Pancho.
Below is a deckle edged bottle 3 label.The neck has a simple black paper bandwidth “Reserva Don Pancho” along with a tamper seal with “DP’ in script at the centenary “Origenes” spelled vertically.Bottle is topped by a natural cork closure and a well stained and varnished wooden topper ( the color of which matches the rum) with an edge line along the top for easy gripping and opening. Altogether an elegant and classy presentation in keeping with the contents.
Other: This is not just an 30 year old rum, the youngest of the rums in th blend is 30 years old, some are far older.
Cigars: Find a good,fresh Cuban cigar, something not too oily, maybe a natural wrapper or darker Ashton or Punch.
Final Thoughts: It was a struggle not to put this up for our spirit of the month, and it was only edged out by another of Don Panchos rums (the 18 Year Old Origenes Rum) because of a greater value to price rating for us mere mortals who normally can’t afford bottles that run over $400. While an utterly amazing and sublime spirit, it is a bit disappointing that it is priced as high as it is.
But if you want the best and can pay for it, this is it.
A minimal website in terms of much consumer information, but an excellent resource for sourcing rum. Also shows some of their other brands.
More informative and up to date about what is going on and Don Panchos and exploits