Papa’s Pilar 24 Dark Rum

Papa's Pilar 24 Dark Rum review by the fat rum piratePapa’s Pilar “Never a Spectator”.  Pilar was the name of a customised boat commissioned by Papa – Ernest Hemingway.  If you don’t know who Ernest Hemingway is then you can either visit the rum’s website for some information on  the rum, the boat and the man OR you can visit his Wikipedia page.

Whichever page you vist or whatever prior knowledge you have on Hemingway one thing was pretty clear.  He enjoyed a drink and he especially enjoyed rum, with Mojito’s in particular being a favourite for Papa.

I’ve chosen not to dwell on Papa too much as I will only be re-writing history which has already been documented extensively.  Plus I have plenty to write about the contents of this bottle.

First up Papa’s Pilar 24 Dark Rum is another of those slightly sneakily named Solera Blended rums.  This rum, if the emblem on the bottles neck it to believed is Solera Blended in the US of A.  So what exactly do we have in this bottle you may ask? Well here goes as even before this rum was bottled and imported to the UK it has had quite a journey……

Rums are sourced from Florida, Central America and The Caribbean.  It is a mix of potPapa's Pilar 24 Dark Rum review by the fat rum pirate and column distilled rums (I will be as bold as to guess the pot stilled rum is from the Caribbean but I may be wrong).  It is then Solera Blended in Florida.  Double Aged in Bourbon Barrels and then Port Casks.  It is then finished in Spanish Sherry Casks.

The above explanation of the rums origins is part of the reason it has taken me so long to review this rum.  Often as part of my reviews I give my reasons for picking the rum and place of purchase.  In this instance I was asked to review the rum by one of my regular readers and contributors Matthew Rapaport, who also has a Rum Community (RumandCigars) on Google+.  Matthew often bemoans that he cannot get any of the rums I review so I thought I would sort that out for him.  I managed to get a bottle from The Whisky Exchange for £55.  The bottle is a standard US sized 750ml and the rum is bottled at 43% ABV.  The presentation I will skip upon with this review and will instead give you a few more pictures which will depict things far better then I can explain. (Yes that is a compass topped cork stopper).  The rum is bottled by Strong Spirits, Bardstown, KY for Hemingway Rum Company, Florida.

So on with the rum.  The first issue I had with the rum was actually opening it.  The compass lid and metal chain look quite charming but the chain is easily detached and once you have prised the very tight fitting stopper off the bottle you encounter your first problem.

Papa's Pilar 24 Dark Rum review by the fat rum piratePouring the rum.  Surely one of the most basic things if not THE most basic thing to consider when designing a rum (or any spirit) bottle.  The rum pours very badly and if you are trying to get an exact measure you have no chance.  If you try to pour a little it slopes down the side of the bottle due to the size of the neck.  Pour more and it works better but its still very messy and you need to be pouring into quite a wide glass to avoid spillage.  Such is the issue with pouring the rum I have decanted it into a standard bottle.  The rum bottle looks fantastic but its style over substance!

Pouring the rum (eventually) it is a rich reddish brown with flashes of orange.  It’s lighter in the glass than in the stubby bottle but it is still clearly a dark rather than gold rum.

With so much going on with this rum I had no idea what to expect.  Usually I can kind of guess the style at least of a particular rum.  In this instance I was totally in the dark and really didn’t know what I was in store for me.   I was expecting a certain sweetness due to the port and sherry ageing but other than that, not a clue.

The nose is a mixed bag.  Sweet a little spicy, yet with slightly bitter coffee notes and notes such as raisin and toffee.  It reminded me a little of Cola, I cheated a little and read a review suggesting Root Beer – again yes notes of that as well.  However, I felt (and it has taken me a good few months to pin it down) the smell was familiar and knew that it wasn’t Cola.  Then it hit me – I mean after all what’s the worst that can happen? Dr Bloody Pepper.  I was nosing a rum which smelt like Dr Pepper. That mixed fruit  slightly spiced cola alternative.

So clearly this was strange, a rum that smelt a lot like Dr Pepper.  Had the people responsible for this rum went a step too far in trying to be different? Well lets give it the taste test.

As a Solera Blend with a “24” on the bottle some of the rum should be well aged.  MorePapa's Pilar 24 Dark Rum review by the fat rum pirate importantly for a rum which has cost me £55 I should be able to sip it.  Papa’s Pilar 24 is smooth, very little burn.  However, it is not as sweet as the nose would suggest.  There is a fair amount of orange peel or marmalade like bitterness, especially on the finish and the aftertaste.  It’s initially quite sweet in some respects it could be cloying but the sweetness is quite short lived.

This isn’t a particularly unpleasant rum. Nor does it have anywhere near as many additives as I first thought (see the Hydrometer Tests page).  Unfortunately it is priced with a lot of other exceptional rums and even rums priced £20 below can more than match it in terms of complexity as a sipper.

For me it is a rum which has been overcooked.  To many rums from to many different sources may not be the problem but ageing in their different casks has given this rum a bit of a confused identity.  I genuinely cannot really understand exactly what it is supposed to be.  It looks like rum, smells like Dr Pepper and tastes a bit like a kind of bitter coffee mixed with cola!  I’m using these more “basic” notes because this rum is such a mixed bag its the only way to describe it!  I couldn’t even detect many individual notes even if I try.

The overarching feeling I’m getting about this rum is that it doesn’t taste like rum at all.  Whilst that is not always a bad thing (I don’t mind variety one bit) this one just comes out tasting a little bit to artificial and contrived.  The Cola and Dr Pepper references have been to often and any rum which tastes like a carbonated fruit flavoured soda is going to be very divisive.

I just don’t get this rum and I doubt many will.  It’s not unpleasant as such just very, very strange……..

1.5 stars






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12 comments on “Papa’s Pilar 24 Dark Rum

  1. Just to provide another perspective… I have had three bottles of the Papa’s Pilar rum and it is still one of my favorites. I get hints of maple syrup and molasses, but definitely have never detected a hint of the Dr Pepper mentioned in this review. This rum is definitely in my top 5.

    • If you think this good rum then you go for it. Enjoy!

  2. You were 100% accurate with this review. Unfortunately, I didn’t discover you and this site until AFTER I purchased a bottle…
    GOOD: I’m now a fatrumpirate fan!
    BAD: I have a $35 bottle of Dr. Pepper that may get better while it ages at the back of my bar!!!

    • Well hopefully I’ll help prevent any poor purchases going forward!

  3. Have to disagree on this one. Yes it’s contrived and unbalanced but for all that it has great body and a good flavour. I’m not a fan of Dr. Pepper (though I’m told is the best cigar pairing soda there is) and I don’t get any of that flavour in this rum, only over-the-top molasses, caramel, and coffee. Smooth enough to be a good sipper but still retains enough fire for those who think a rum shouldn’t taste like a liqueur. My surprise was how much Wes had to pay for it! Here in the U.S. it’s about $38 which comes to around £27. £70 is crazy! If it cost $100 here I wouldn’t be buying it either!

    • Well I would agree with you Matthew….but then we would both be wrong. As I always say drink what you enjoy and never let anyone tell you otherwise!

  4. Thanks for a very insightful review. As you know I am almost always suspicious of what I’d like to call invented brands, whether named after pirates (Wes Rum, lol), figures of history, or in this case an alcoholic writer (a required criterion). These brands are typically by 3rd parties who buy bulk (distillers never sell their best stuff) and whose skill is more in marketing and less in blending. There are only so many John Glasers.

    The result is apparently just how you described it. With 14 grams of sugar, it is well to remember that at least in my opinion, those distillers who stoop to sugaring a rum are likely not to stop there. There are so many additives, flavorings, glycerol and the like that find their way into lesser rums and thence into greater profits. But purity and quality? Not.

    Personally, I’ve never, ever run across “Dr Pepper” in any pure rum profile, ergo one has to really wonder about this one. Nice review, you saved me some hard earned pesos…

    • Good reviewed it at request. Was interesting to try but overall not very good

  5. I’m surprised by this review, as its the first poor review of this rum I’ve seen. Most have been the exact opposite giving it high marks, and my own experience has been very positive as well.
    To each his own.

    • Might well be the first review done without the free sample kits as well! I agree each to their own but I’m afraid this really isn’t worthy of the praise it has been getting.

  6. Thanks for reviewing this rum. I’ve crossed it off my to get list due to this review.

    Have you got any plans in reviewing English Harbour 25 or Rum Nation Panama 21? It would be interesting to see your thoughts on them.

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