For more than half a century, Francisco Jose Fernandez (affectionately known as Don Pancho) has crafted rums distilled via a method that is unique to his native Cuba. Using only molasses, these rums are batch fermented, column distilled, and aged for a minimum of three years in first-fill American oak barrels that once held bourbon or American whiskey. Decades after Don Pancho learned—and later improved—the craft of rum-making in his native country, he moved to Panama, where he continues the tradition. 

Don Pancho created rums that were certain to please most consumers, but now the 79-year-old has shifted his attention to crafting a series of aged rums with his own taste in mind. These premium rums recently hit the market under the label Don Pancho Origenes.

The rum-maker’s intent with Origenes, which includes an 18-year premium Panamanian rum ($90) and a 30-year rare Panamanian rum ($425), was to reproduce the flavor profiles he enjoyed decades ago in Cuba. They are blends of the most exceptional casks in his private collection, selected for their high-quality bourbon notes, among other factors.

As one might expect, both expressions are pleasingly sweet, with a richness and roundness that reflects their age. The 18-year delivers crisp fruit notes wrapped in a blanket of light brown sugar and offers a long finish accented by flavors of vanilla and a hint of oaky spiciness. The 30-year, on the other hand, is deeper and darker, both in flavor and appearance, and introduces caramel aromas that transition to notes of toffee and figs on the palate.  


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