Pilar Dark

Papa's Pilar Dark Bottle-RG1-USE

Product of:  Secondary aging,  blending and production in USA.  Distilled and/or aged on Barbados, Panama, the DR,  Florida, USA, etc.
Age:  Solera blend of rums aged up to 24 years
Price:  $39.99 (SRP)
Alcohol: 43% ABV
Context:  Premium Aged Rum
RG Rating: 9

Tasting Notes
Pilar Dark is nostalgia in a bottle - even the color is the same deep brown shade of mahogany you see in furniture of the art deco period.  Pour, look closer and you might see a faint green apparition where the ring of rum meets  glass - an affect that only comes with prolonged aging.  Legs show good structure and quantity; not that they’re important, but they are pretty.  

Initially, my nose senses a greater proportion of column distillates and less pot still influence in the blend.  The first aromas I feel are smoky, like sweet loose pipe-tobacco.  The varieties of charred oak casks previously used to age bourbon and sherry contribute significantly to the aromas.  Alcohol has a definite presence at 43% ABV, and help carry scents of tropical fruit (candied mango and orange rind come to mind). Pilar Dark also exhibits the pronounced aroma of dry Sherry, which partially masks the more delicate bourbon-soaked wood,  spices (cinnamon, vanilla, white pepper and a touch of anise), mild roasted whole coffee beans and old leather.  

The initial taste is considerably sweeter than the aromas indicated, with flavors of creamy caramel, vanilla, buttery pastry, a bit more anise than on the nose, and a tart flavor like milk chocolate covered cherries – perhaps  contributed by aging in ex-Port barrels? The body is more viscous in weight but has a delicate feel before succumbing to a long smooth finish.  Pilar Dark is a beautiful, complex combination of rums.  

Overall, the aromas and flavors reveal their multi-source ancestry, but they’re integrated seamlessly and don’t challenge one another.

Pilar Solera Aging Diagram-OK

Pot and column distilled rums from Barbados, Panama, The Dominican Republic and Florida, USA.  Aged and blended in the USA using a Solera system in ex-Bourbon barrels and port wine casks, then married and finished in used Sherry barrels.  I can’t think of another solera blend that combines rums of different ages from several distilleries across the Caribbean.  A team of accomplished distillers and blenders created the formula for Papa’s Pilar rum.  Jay Maltby formerly held executive positions at Bacardi USA, Cruzan Rum, and IncuBrands LLC.  Richard Seale is the no-BS great-great grandson of the founder of Barbados’s admired Foursquare distillery.  Lincoln Henderson, the seasoned bourbon innovator who advised on formula creation.  With that cast of experts, how could this rum be anything but outstanding.

PILAR logo on black

Pilar was Hemingway’s 38-foot motorboat (as well as the nickname of Pauline Pfeiffer, his second wife.)  Purchased in 1934 from Wheeler Shipbuilding company, Hemingway quite successfully used the boat in the waters off Florida, the Bahamas and Cuba, catching many record-size fish and performing research for the Smithsonian Institution.  Hemingway’s adventures on Pilar inspired at least two of his more famous works:  The Old Man and the Sea and Islands in the Stream.

Pilar Dark Compass Cap Detail-RG

Bottle - If the shape looks familiar, that’s because it’s styled after the aluminum canteens carried by US infantryman for most of the 20th Century.  The bottle pays homage to Hemingway’s duty as an ambulance driver in Italy during World War I and his exposure to the Normandy landings in World War II.  Why the chain?  US infantry canteens used a chain to tether the screw cap to the bottle. The cap could be left slightly loose on the march - allowing drops of water to slosh out and soak the canvas covering.  Evaporation kept the contents cool.  Last but not least, etched into Pilar’s bottle cap is a compass - the simple yet indispensable tool that provides comfort and direction to adventurers on land and sea.  The compass on Pilar Dark's cap has the  African Sun logo in its center, signifying Hemingway's adventures on land.

Ethics - The Hemingway Rum Company developed Papa’s Pilar in conjunction with Ernest Hemingway’s family, who will donate 100 percent of their royalty profits to organizations that embody the likes of adventure, literacy, and conservation.  Papa’s Pilar also plans to work with local charitable foundations that promote Hemingway’s spirit of adventure.

Some of the best distilling talent in the world developed this rum.  Packaging was precisely calculated and artfully executed.  Chosen to Champion the brand is the iconic Ernest Hemingway, a true American Hero.  Papa was larger than life.  Ernest Hemingway was not one to back down from a fight.  Cue the slogan etched on every bottle: “Never a Spectator”.  Looking beyond the caricature to the rum itself, Pilar equals or betters most rums available today.

Papa's Pilar Rum and Pilar.RG1

Fact is, Hemingway never drank this rum.  Hell, the sugarcane it’s derived from wasn’t even harvested until decades after he committed suicide.  And no, drinking it won’t make you a literary hero, a pornstar, nor even the most interesting man in the world.  Doesn’t matter.  Pilar is a rum of great consequence, and it makes for good story telling.  Ernest Hemingway did love his rum cocktails.  Who knows if he sipped aged rums crafted with such forethought in his era.  But this I do know: Papa’s Pilar is right for our times.  Bravo.

Reviewed: March 2013 at the Rum Gallery, USA.

© Dave Russell 2017