Tasteless Tastings (Take 1): Papa’s Pilar Rum

Welcome to the inaugural Tasteless Tastings, which is exactly what it sounds like: tasting notes from the riffraff. If you follow the liquor industry to any capacity, you probably have come across snooty tasting notes from classy people who make the new spirit sound more like a science experiment than something you consume for fun or to forget the world around you. I want to shoot gayly forward from the hip and tell you how it really tastes. So each time the nice mailman brings me a sample to try, I’ll gather up some friends and we’ll have a candid, lively and unpolitically correct discussion about said sample. So let’s do it …

pilar_bottles_combo-x650xWhat are we drinking today?: Papa’s Pilar Artisan-Crafted Rum

What the hell is it?: It’s two different super-premium rums (Blonde and Dark) made in Key West and inspired by Ernest Hemingway’s spirit of adventure. Ernest’s nickname was “Papa.” The rum is hand-selected from the Caribbean, Central America and America, and then solera aged and blended using used bourbon, port wine and/or Spanish sherry barrels.

Why do we care?: Papa’s Pilar has recently made its way into the Kentucky market, and there is, indeed, a connection with the bourbon industry. The late, great Lincoln Henderson of Angel’s Envy served as an advisor on this rum’s early creation.

Give me the nerdy numbers: The Blonde is 84 proof, contains rums 3-7 years old, and finished in Spanish sherry casks. The Dark is 86 proof, contains rum up to 24 years old, and touches bourbon, port wine and sherry casks as well.

What do we think?: We had five panelists who each got a half-ounce pour (or more, if we had a larger quantity and the person liked it). As the host of the session, I tried to keep my tipsy tasters on task, covering the basics of a scientific spirits report: color, aroma, taste and finish. The panel included two artists (Britany B., Erik U.), a person who sells air (Tracy K.), an artsy museum nerd (Cara H.) and myself.

First up was the Blonde, because — well — we all know they have more fun, and we wanted to start out our first Tasteless Tasting having lots of that.

Me: Let’s all check out the Blonde!
BB: Looks like a white wine with no legs.
Me: Smell her.
EU: It smells like syrup. Alcoholic syrup. I want to put it on pancakes.
TK: I smell butterscotch. And vanilla.
CH: It’s like the Back Door — I feel like if I just continue to smell it, I’ll get drunk.
Me: Taste it.
EU: Ooooh, it’s sweet! It kinda tastes like Christmas — or those candles my mother has in her house.
BB: It tastes a little like high school.
TK: Butterscotch.
Me: I think it’s pretty smooth, and the finish is quite pleasant. It doesn’t linger like an awkward conversation.
BB: I would drink that again. It is more flavorful than I remember rum being.
TK: It would be good in pina coladas.
CH: It would get you lost in the rain.
BB: I think it’s caught in the rain.
CH: I get lost in the rain.
TK: If you’re not into yoga …

Our first session involved cheese ... and lots of it.

Our first session involved cheese … and lots of it.

Me: Alrighty then. Let’s go to the Dark side. This guy is a little higher in proof, so he might bite. And at one point he mingled with port wine casks.
BB: Did you say pork rinds?
Me: Port wine — not pork rind.
EU: It looks like bourbon but smells like regret.
BB: It’s the bourbon of rum.
TK: It smells the same as the other one — caramel, vanilla.
BB: The first sip is a doozy. It has much more bite.
CH: It feels like a terrible memory — like I’m going to make very bad decisions tonight.
EU: It feels like an apology.
BB: I would sip this one by itself, but probably mix the other in a cocktail — if I was near a beach.
CH: This makes me want to live near water and listen to Buffett.
Me: It’s got that spicy rum feel, but it’s quite sippable. The finish is long and warm, like I’m wrapping my tongue in velvet.
EU: Do girls like that?
Me: They don’t not like it.

Next time on Tasteless Tastings … the group tries the new Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection and Jefferson’s Reserve finished in rum casks, as well as rye whiskey from Baltimore called Sagamore Spirit.