Review: Don Papa Small Batch Rum 7 Year Old

Don Papa, which was created in 2012, hails from the Philippines, Negros island, and it’s distilled at Bago Distillery by Ginebra San Miguel for the Bleeding Heart Company – slightly confusing, eh? The Bago distillery was founded in 1902 by La Tondena Distillers and in 2003 was bought by San Miguel.

The name origin for Don Papa is explained on their website – apparently it’s inspired by Papa Isio (Dionisio Seguela or Dionisio Papa y Barlucia according to Wikipedia) who in the 1890s played a big role in the Philippine revolution driving the Spanish off the Negros island. Yay for marketing, but to be noted that the figure on the label and the picture on Wikipedia are miles away.

If you’re familiar with my reviews and my tastes I’m sure you’ll already know where this one is heading, but humour me.

Steven James from Rum Diaries reviewed this a while ago and he linked lab tests of the rum – 29g/l of sugar, 2.4g of glycerol and 359 mg/l of vanillin. It’s both hilarious and extremely sad for a brand to call themselves “small batch RUM“, and yet to be so full of sh…tuff.

Molasses based, column still distilled (as per their website, but most likely a multi-column) and aged for 7 years in ex-Bourbon barrels foothills of Mount Kanalaon in Negros – or how they non-ironically call it, Sugarlandia. Bottled at 40% ABV with the aforementioned additions.

On the nose it smells like a dentist appointment. Bubblegum flavoured jelly, Fanta Orange mixed with Coca Cola, strawberry sauce and more than some vanilla. Raisins, cinnamon, toffee, coffee flavoured candies and Wham bars. Feels very artificial.

On the palate, well, let me grab a glass of water… it’s sweet. Drumstick Squashies, strawberry liqueur and triple sec – that’s all that it should say as tasting notes in any retail selling this. Salted caramel, vanilla essence, sweet chili and cola jellies. It’s so sticky I can’t drink a 20ml sample. The finish is less than short with toffee, bubblegum and a pinch of salt.

This could pass as a spiced rum maybe, but even then a pretty nasty, artificial tasting one – and as I pointed out in my recent article, spiced/favoured rum is not rum. This one is marketed as a “premium rum” and products like this are the reason why the category is having a hard time being taken seriously. Imagine offering this liqueur to a whisky drinker and tell him “this is a premium aged, single-island rum from the Philippines!”… he’ll take a sip and never touch any rum again.

Looking on their website I noticed 90% of their awards are for packaging and design, which is fair, it looks attractive, but that’s pretty much it. I’m glad I didn’t spend £32 on this and I can promise I won’t anytime soon either.

Don Papa Small Batch Rum 7 Year Old score:
Flavour/taste: 14/70
Value for money: 3/15
Transparency/purity: 2/15
Overall: 19/100


2 thoughts on “Review: Don Papa Small Batch Rum 7 Year Old

  1. Hi. I just got this one home and I totally understand your review. This one shouldn’t been called a rum, it totally destroys the name “rum”. If you can avoid it, do so!

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