Saturday, 31 October 2015

Review 63 - Don Papa 7 year old

Photo copyright © H.Kristoffersen
A massive fuck you to everyone who spent countless years perfecting their craft.
Okay. I admit. This will probably not be the longest or the best review I have ever written. But I need to get these worlds published as fast as possible for certain reasons. So I will have to skip a bit of prose and get to the bottom of this very fast.

Today I’m wrestling the Don Papa 7 year old rum.

It originates from the Philippines, so in that sense it is a first from me.

What really caught my eye was this: ”Don Papa is a premium aged small batch rum”. Waow. What’s not to like about that sentence? Apart from the fact that most times when companies needs to tell people about these things, they are usually operating with a certain flexibility in the truth department.

I’m not going to spend time diving into the massive marketing shenanigans of the background story of the Don Papa. If you are interested in learning about why it is called what it is called, and many other things, please visit their website.

Supposedly it has been aged at least 7 years in oak barrels before being blended ”into perfection”. That also sounds quite good. Hopefully they spent those 7 years wisely.

I didn’t bother doing a hydrometer test today, as Cyril from had a lab go to town on the Don Papa, and they found out a couple of funny things:

29 grams of Sugar pr. litre
Sugar. It’s sweet. It’s palatable. It makes liquid sticky. Some people love it and prefer it that way. Looking at some of the many sugar measurements out there this doesn’t seem too bad.

359 miligrams of Vanillin pr. litre
Vanillin is basically what vanilla tastes like. This typically comes from the barrel aging, when the alcohol extracts the vanillin from the oak. But it this case it is obviously artificially added an d therefore removing the need for proper barrel ageing. Shame on you Don Papa. Bad spirits maker.

To put things into context, the Ron Zacapa 23 has 2,45 miligrams of vanillin pr. litre, so Don Papa is really kicking things up some 140-150 notches. KA-BLAM!

2.4 grams of Glycerol pr. litre
Glycerol is another name for glycerine or the E422 additive. Glycerin tastes sweet and is to be considered a sweetening agent. However glycerol doesn’t add calories. So if you don’t want to get fat drinking your daily tot of rum, please choose rums with much added glycerol instead of sugar.

Fun fact: Glycerol in very large amounts will act as a laxative. Woohoo. Rum really is fun.

Fun fact: According to laws of the European Union it is prohibited to add anything other than sugar (or possibly other types of sweetning agents) to your rum post destillation. So the fact that they added vanillin, makes it stray too far from the path to actually being allowed to be called rum. 

Okay, so that was kind of a slap in the face. Having a lot of vanillin and glycerol added, just screams: ”We don’t know how to distill or barrel aged a rum properly, so we took all possible short cuts, and just tried to make it smooth as fuck. Then people will love it, spread the word and sales will be through the roof.”

For additional info please visit the Don Papa webpage. Be warned though, massive marketing shenanigans ahead. Personally, I do not believe a single thing mentioned in there.

It comes off as a very beautiful product. There is no doubt: The marketing is strong with this one.

I like the bottle quite a bit. It is somewhat stubby and gives off kind of the same pirate feel as the El Dorado 15. Very nice.

The label work is a piece of art. I wish more companies would pay this much attention to the outsides.
However, it usually goes a little something like this: If the outsides are insanely pretty and well made, the insides typically isn’t. I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

The lightly brown coloured liquid, leaves a thick film on the inside of the glass. Legs takes forever to start forming, and once they finally do, they are fat and slow as fuck.
I am expecting a very sticky experience from this one.

Sitting 30-40 cm. away from the glass, isn’t enough to escape its luring odour.
Well, it is more frightening than luring.

It is insanely perfumed. Much more than the Angostura 1919, which I thought would never be beaten on that parameter.

In fact it is hard to perceive this as rum based on the nose.

It is very fruity, with clear notes of lemons, limes and grapes. It brings back memories of a lemon/lime ice cream from my childhood called "Kæmpe Læske" (Danish people will get it).

There is a heavy vanilla feeling about it all. Very fresh and almost pleasant, but perhaps a bit too concentrated – and not really a ”rum smell” at all. Heck, if I didn’t already know, I would never have guessed that this was a spirit (or whatever it is).

Despite being a 7 year old rum, I find no notes of oak or any other type of wood. Strange.

Woah … Please wait while I stop coughing.

Sweet, sweet, sweet.

Then artificial vanilla, a little spice and tannins and a little heat.


So oily, so perfumed.

So much not a rum.

I’m sure this has some kind of use in the cocktail world, but as a sipping spirit it is obnoxious.

A decent length finish with a lot of pleasant warmth.

Thankfully the flavours disappear fast, and the warmth does what it can to clean up.

Thinking about it, the finish is actually the thing the Don Papa does best.

Rating and final thoughts
Man, screw this… this is not rum!

This is heavy marketing shenanigans wrapped in a notion of being something that it is clearly not.

The popularity of this product is way beyong my capabilities to fathom.
The nose is flat and boring.
The taste is obnoxious and not very pleasing.
The finish is rather good and pleasant, and doing what it can to reach the end fast. Thank you for that.

I would advice you to NOT waste your money on this crap. It is deception in a bottle. A counterfeit rum at best.

And back to my intention of getting to the end fast: The world need to know how fake this product is. People needs to know that it is not a rum and in no way a representative for rum in general.

It might be a bit of a stretch, but I believe that this product is actually more harmful to rum as a spirit, than the A.H. Riise Navy Strength

Not many fucks were given in the CEO office at Don Papa, when they first decided to make "rum". If this brand should die a unexpeceted, quick and silent death, I for one will not be shedding a single tear.

The very existence of Don Papa, is a massive fuck you to every single master distiller, maestro ronero, cellar master and master blender out there. And probably everybody else who used countless years perfecting their craft. 

Obviously, we are not going anywhere near the top. We are actually moving very quickly down to the bottom. The only thing that saves this spirit from reaching an all time low of 1, is the fact that the finish was actually not that bad.

But it will never go above a…

Rating: 45/100

Having established that I do not in any way consider this product to be a rum, I must say that I could easily find myself having a glass of this with lots of crushed ice and lots of cola on a hot summer day. Perhaps even with a pot still float of some kind. Although it would probably be a shame to waste a good pot still product on it.



  1. Good read. I've always suspected this rum had something else going on behind the slick marketing. thanks!

  2. OMG!!! Somebody finally publish this. We actually went to Canlaon to the so called distillery but to our surprise we couldn't find it. I have a house in Negros so I thought it would be nice to visit the distillery of such famous rum from my home province, it made me proud, and we even got a direction from the company which turned out it was fake because no such distillery at the foot of Mt Canlaon. When we couldn't find the place with the company's direction, I started asking the people there and all told me there is no distillery there so I went o the municipal hall to ask and even had them search all the permit but no such thing. So there is no distillery as what advertised at the foot of Canlaon. Just marketing...

    1. Maribel, it is there! Its the Ginebra San Miguel plant! They just stamp the label then viola, a hipster "rhum."

  3. There is no plant in Canlaon City. Went there myself. It is distilled somewhere in Luzon/Manila not at the foot of Canlaon mountain as stated in the label.

  4. It is distelled in the so called "Distelleria Bago", which is only about twenty years old.
    Bago City, 6101 Negros Occidental, Philippines

  5. The comments here probably confirm the rumors that Don Papa IS owned by or at least has connections with San Miguel. As well as the rumors that San Miguel had plans to release rum a while back but didn't push through with the release.


    Don papa is made og this Ethanol plant