Food and Drink

Don Papa

Don Papa is probably my new favorite name and my newest favorite rum. Rum and I have had a long standing love affair as it is my drink of choice every time I go out to have drinks. Unfortunately there are only a few rum brands here in the Philippines that are 100% pinoy and sadly, the after taste with the most popular brand is not a happy experience. I’ve long longed for a pure Pinoy brand that has that excellent quality and I thought it would just be just a dream until Don Papa Rum came into the market.

Rum is usually made from molasses, a byproduct of sugar canes when it is processed to be made into sugar. Molasses is then fermented and the liquid distilled into rum, which is usually aged in old oak barrels.

Rum is probably one of the few beverages that has great historical significance. Sugar was the real prize for most European explorers. It has been said and noted that Christopher Columbus shipped sugarcane to the New World.  It was the Caribbean islanders soon began converting the sugar byproducts into relatively cheap alcoholic liquid first known as Kill-Devil and then later on called Rumbullion which meant a “rowdy brawl” They probably shortened it to Rum where it got its name. There are several stories of the etymology of rum – some say it came from the British while still other people say that it was derived from a Latin word.

Don Papa rum is made by the Bleeding Heart Rum Company, founded by former Rémy Martin executive Stephen Carroll. Stephen decided to create, produce and perfect this 100% Pinoy made rum and base it here in the country.  The only thing foreign used in the making of the rum is the American oak barrels that holds the rum while it ages. I don’t think it would produce the same taste if it were aged in Kamagong or Narra – just saying. Filipino rum, just like its counterparts in another countries, has its own distinct flavor. Most rums develop this “personality” of sorts through the liquor distilling process.

History of Rum in the Philippines

Sadly, there isn’t enough documentation with regard to the production of Rum in the Philippines. Documentations are usually from the other brand and court documents that detail the illegal local rum distillers. Although the earliest recorded mention of rum in the Philippines is at 1854, some people believe that rum has been made even earlier than that. The trading routes have allowed rum to be taken from the Philippines, Indonesia and China to western countries. Since rum is also made with sugar, it preserves well and was the drink of choice for sailors and sea-farers.

Since rum’s base ingredient is sugar cane juice or molasses, one can expect rum to be a preferred drink of the ladies due to its sweet taste. Good rum does not taste like chemicals and should have a fruity almost chocolate-y flavour.

The Bottle and the Packaging

Don Papa box

The bottle comes in a tubular carton case with a metal lid and bottom. The entire design is impressive and has the look and feel of the paper money during the time of the Spanish occupation. It even has the silver/gold string that is woven along the paper – giving it a feel of monetary authenticity.

We spent a good few minutes just looking at the packaging, playing a game of “where’s the animal”. There is a tarsier hiding in the cravat, a slug disguising itself as a moustache, a snail, a gecko, bugs that look like roaches and this weird looking dog like creature. Of course, Don Papa is shown as stately and commanding.

The bottle is next thing we inspected. My boyfriend said that the indicators of a good quality alcohol are the bottle and the cork. Most corks nowadays are either synthetic or made of a combination of rubber and plastic. Don Papa Rum’s bottle has a very thick glass base which is a wonderful indicator of quality alcohol. The cork that they use is natural and is lovely to smell – another indicator of how good the rum is.

The label is pretty much the same as the packaging but has this lovely red paper stamp. The top is sealed with a label that has a lovely drawing of a spider while the neck has a drawing of a spotted gecko. They really put a lot of hard work into creating this wonderful label. Kudos to Bleeding Heart and their team!

The Goods

Opening the bottle was almost an event for us, truth be told. It was like opening a long awaited gift on


Christmas. As soon as the cork was pulled out, we were immediately treated to a wonderful scent permeating from the bottle. A mixture of vanilla, fruits that we think are berries with a tone of oak and wood caressed our olfactory.

Although you can drink it neat or on the rocks, I’ve always preferred my rum to be married to cola. Before you mix it in with anything, try swirling it around your glass and notice the way the liquid sticks to the sides of the glass. You can see that the liquid slowly comes down which means that the sugar content is quite high – it’s the same thing with wine. If you’re not a cola kind of person, you can try to mix Don Papa rum with other mixers and you can even try the recipes they have on their website.

The vanilla was the first thing I tasted. The distinct fruity flavour got me wondering about what fruits they’ve used and I remember that they stated that they use locally sourced ingredients for the rum. Apparently, there are wild berries and wild strawberries at the foot of Mt. Kanlaon – the place where they age the rum. Even more reason to support and patronize Don Papa rum!

Take note that Don Papa is actually a small batch rum. Small Batch usually means that it is quality driven. The term small batch is usually synonymous with age, process and ultimately quality. Small batch rums are aged a little bit longer than the larger batches that are created more for quantity than quality. Mass market rums are usually aged for 5 years but Don Papa is aged for 7 years.

The Best Philippines Rhum

After two glasses (the first one is a test and the second one is to validate the findings. There is the third glass option which is just for fun.) the verdict is clear – Don Papa is absolutely impressive. From the packaging to the actual liquor itself, it is evidently clear that this product was something that was thoroughly thought out and the people behind it is just as nationalistic and passionate about Pinoys as we are. We invited our German-Canadian neighbour over to have a glass with us and even he was impressed and went out to get his own bottle for his own. In fact, our conversation were peppered with “This is really good!” every other minute. My boyfriend the alcoholic connoisseur could not stop talking about the different tones and flavors that seem to have a party in his mouth.

On a totally geeky note (I can’t turn the work mode off), Don Papa is already gaining a lot of interest globally. Every month there are 60,500 people searching for Don Papa globally compared to the 2,900 searches per month for Tanduay rum. Locally though, there are only 720 searches per month for Don Papa and 1,300 for Tanduay. Again, all the more reason for you, Pinoys in the ‘Pinas, to choose Don Papa as your rum of choice. Kung ang buong mundo napapansin na sya, dapat tayo ang unang tumangkilik ng sariling atin na de-kalidad! Okay…patriotic geek mode off now.

Where to purchase Don Papa

Here is the complete list of bars, restaurants, stores and supermarkets that you can purchase Don Papa rum from. You can also purchase one online. The suggested retail price ranges from P980 to P1,000 but prices do change from place to place.

Aracama Filipino Cuisine (BGC)
Beso Cucina Vinoteka (BGC)
Cova Tapas Bar (Jupiter)
The Distillery (BGC)
The Distillery (Eastwood)
The Distillery (Jupiter)
Draft Gastropub (BGC)
Draft Gastropub (Rockwell)
Elbert’s Steakroom (Salcedo Village)
Little Asia (Binondo)
Kasbah (BGC)
Moksha (San Juan)
Opus Restaurant & Lounge (Resorts World)
Prive Luxury Club (BGC)
Prohibition (Dillinger’s Greenbelt)
Republiq Club (Resorts World)
The Reserve (Ortigas)
Stella & Rocket Room (BGC)
Taverna Verde (Ortigas)
2nd’s (BGC)
Boy’s Restaurant & Bar
Bubba Gump
Bugsy’s Bar & Resto (BGC)
Bugsy’s Bar & Resto (Ortigas)
Café Havana
Chef Tatung Café
Chili’s Grill & Bar
Cork Room
Dusit Thani Manila
Embassy XL Club, & Café, Inc.
Felix Restaurant
Interpro c/o Manila Polo Club
Kings of Tomorrow
Mamou Restaurant
Mandarin Oriental Hotel
Marciano Restaurant
Ming Bistro
Misibis Resort & Hotel
Museum Café
Premio Bar & Restaurant
Red Box Greebelt
Up above the Sky Restaurant
Zuni Restaurant & Wine Bar

Airport House of Wines (Paranaque)
Antonio’s Minimart (Bulacan)
Bottle Zone Wines & Liquors (Malate)
Circle Liquor Center (Timog)
Corkroom Wine (Mandaluyong)
Gilmore Wine Shop (San Juan)
GKMS Wines & Spirits Buendia (Makati)
Han’s Liquor Kalayaan (Makati)
Harry’s Liquor Mart (Makati)
Hezi House of Wines
Malate Wines
Metro Wine
Metro Vinos
Ralph’s Wines & Spirits (Aguirre, BGC, Greenhills, Katipunan, Makati Ave., Pasay Road, Podium, President Ave., Salcedo Village, Tramo)
Ram’s House of Wine
Wine Rack (Timog)
Wine Circle (Timog)

The Landmark (Makati)
Makati Supermarket (Alabang)
Pioneer Supermarket Kapitolyo (Ortigas)
Rustan’s Supermarkets
S&R (All locations)
South Supermarket (Alabang)
Unimart Supermarket (Greenhills)

Benguet Supermarket (Baguio)
Booze Wines & Spirits (Baguio)
Bora Budget Mart (Boracay)
Casa Italia (Puerta Galera)
Cuba! Cuba! Rum & Sports Bar (Angeles CIty)
Cellar (Bacolod)
Mu Shu (Bacolod)
Shirmarro’s Wine Center (Bacolod)
The Distillery (Cebu)
Tratorria Uma (Bacolod)
21 (Bacolod)

Ritual (The Collective Makati)

The Green Grocer Manila

Research sources:

Rum History – History of rum
Papa Isio (The guy on the bottle)
Rum – Understand what rum is
Don Papa Rum Facebook Page
Don Papa official website



4 Comments on Don Papa

  1. Ernest Tanguay

    My first introduction to any rum from the Philippines was by my girlfriend’s family who are pinoy. They introduced me to Tanduay Rum which I thought was amusing because of the similarity to my surname. I did find it be very pleasing.

    However, my girlfriend’s brother-in-law traveled back to Manila and when he returned, he brought back a bottle of Don Papa which I found to be absolutely amazing. I have since managed to have a couple of bottles brought back to Canada by friends as I am totally in love with it. I drink it out of a brandy glass and believe that the aroma that Don Papa gives off adds to the pallet when sipping it.

    I just wanted to thank you for such a wonderful product and wish it was available here in Vancouver, BC, Canada.

    Ernest (Ernie) Tanguay

    • David

      Thank you for your comment. I absolutely love Don Papa Rum. Second on my list is Wild Turkey Bourbon. Both have a beautifully sweet aftertaste.

  2. Gavin

    I have tried various rums and can say that I’m really taken by the flavour and taste of Don Papa rum, especially the vanilla flavour and taste, that is beside the mellow, satisfying feeling that it gives a person.

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