Just a few months ago, the Bleeding Heart Rum Company celebrated their fifth year anniversary. As the holiday season approaches they’re celebrating yet another milestone: the release of the limited edition Don Papa Rare Cask.

Don Papa Rum 7 years, 10 years, and Rare Cask

Only 6,000 bottles will be released globally and the international spirits industry is excited about its release. In the Philippines, only 250 bottles will be available. Don Papa Rare Cask was recently unveiled at an intimate launch with food pairings by restaurateur Elbert Cuenca at the Riedel Room of Elbert’s Steak Room in Makati City. The event was followed by a silent auction for 13 special numbered bottles with serial numbers like 333, 666, 777, and 999.

Elbert Cuenca at the Riedel Room
Special numbered bottles with serial numbers for auction
Special numbered bottles with serial numbers for auction during the launch
13 special numbered bottles with serial numbers like 333, 666, 777, and 999.

For its London launch this November, Don Papa commissioned wood sculptor Dave Johnson to recreate the Rare Cask bottle and its label in a one-off wood sculpture

Craftsmanship cannot be rushed.

A post shared by The Don (@donpaparum) on

“The Rare Cask is really all about innovation,” says Don Papa Rum Asia Pacific brand manager Cristhel Molina. “We’ve taken different techniques inspired by different dark spirits and see how we can make use of the different aspects of the rum making process in creating unique and interesting rums. With the Rare Cask, we’ve taken the barrel, aging, and finish to create something very unique to dark spirits,” she adds.

The Rare Cask bottle is signed by its master distiller who wants to stay anonymous

At first look, the new Rare Cask bottle is still consistent with Don Papa Rum’s packaging design. The same materials are used from the packaging of Don Papa Rum 7 years and 10 years—the Oslo bottle from France, the cork stoppers and enclosures from Portugal, and the label produced in Italy. The design of the label maintains the brand’s signature flora and fauna images but in a more bronze, reddish-brown tone (which is the color of the liquid) as compared to Don Papa 7 Year’s off-white label and 10 Year’s dark hue.

“We make sure that each time we come up with a new product, the story is consistent with the Don Papa character universe,” explains Molina. “For instance, Don Papa 7 is about the revolutionary spirit of Don Papa with images of flora and fauna. Don Papa 10’s story is all about ‘what happens to Don Papa when he ages.’” The design emphasizes stronger, bolder, and older characteristics with a different set of flora and fauna. The Rare Cask is geared towards innovation—the magic of the special STR (shaved, toasted, and roasted) barrels used to develop the new product.

Don Papa Rare Cask has fruity and oaky aroma, the taste has rich fruitcake notes, cacao, and spicy, oaky mint finish

In terms of its color, nose, and taste, Rare Cask is very different from the first two Don Papa signature bottlings. The color of the liquid is amber, acquired from the maturation of the liquid in the special STR barrels. These STR barrels are American Oak barrels but treated in the Spanish style: shaved and toasted in open air for 24 months, which then “over-roasted” before they are filled with Don Papa Rum. The resulting liquid has a lot of fruity and oaky aroma, the taste has rich fruitcake notes, cacao, and spicy, oaky mint finish. What’s missing is the familiar sweet vanilla flavor, which is a signature Don Papa note in their bottlings. Instead, you get a spirit that even whisky lovers will enjoy. “People can expect the Rare Cask to be a pleasant surprise. It still has that Don Papa character but is definitely a product that is altogether different from the Don Papa Rum and the Don Papa 10,” says Molina.

Special leather rock glass container designed by Prizmic & Brill

“The Don Papa Rare Cask is best enjoyed as is, neat or with a few drops of water. I personally enjoy it with a few drops of water, as it makes the liquid easier to drink and brings out the wild mint flavor, which is an interesting combination with the ‘oakiness’ of the liquid,” explains Molina. In DrinkManila, we wouldn’t mind switching Rare Cask as a substitute for oaky bourbon cocktails such as Old Fashioned, Manhattan, or Boulevardier.

Old Fashioned made with Don Papa Rare Cask

Rare Cask will be available for circulation by the end of November 2017. Since there are only 250 bottles for the Philippines, it will only be available “on premise” in cocktail bars and select retail stores. If you find a bottle, you may want to buy it as a Christmas gift for yourself to enjoy at home. The Rare Cask retails at P3,750.

Don Papa Rum also launched its 3rd Annual Art Competition and for this coming year, the winner will get a 4-week artists’ residency in New York City. Register to join the competition via Don Papa website. Deadline for online registration is on December 8, and deadline for submission of entries is on January 29. For more information visit Don Papa Facebook page. 

A publishing industry veteran who is the former creative director of PeopleAsia magazine and former lifestyle editor of The Standard newspaper. She was introduced to the wonderful world of spirits during her stint as executive creative director of digital agency DigitalFCB, where she led a team that created campaigns for some of the biggest liquor brands in the country. A lover of scotch and a curious spirit who is obsessed with the colorful world of mixology, she directs DrinkManila’s overall editorial content.

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