Ernest “Papa” Hemingway earned almost as much acclaim as a drinker as he did as a writer. “Don’t bother with churches, government buildings or city squares,” Papa once said. “If you want to know about a culture, spend a night in its bars.” In fact, there’s even a book that chronicles Hemingway’s tippling habits and every reference he ever made to spirits in his entire oeuvre. This clever companion is called “To Have and Have Another.”
One well-known fact about Papa was that he loved a mojito, unsurprising when you realize that he lived in Cuba for much of his life. This minty cocktail depends on a fine rum to combat the strong flavors of sugar and muddled mint, so it’s important to pick a good one. With that in mind, Pilar Rum was born.
Named after Hemingway’s favorite boat which he used to catch record sportfish all over the Atlantic and Caribbean, Pilar Rum is a product which would have made Papa proud. Available in two expressions, Papa’s Pilar Dark and Papa’s Pilar Blonde, these rums are aged using the solera process, where diferent vessels are filled with spirits over time and then blended together for a final product. Pilar ages a variety of different rums sourced from Florida, the Caribbean and Central America in used bourbon and port barrels. These aged spirits are then blended together and finished in sherry casks to contribute an incredible complexity of aromas and flavors.
Pilar Blonde is a lighter rum at 84 proof with lots of pleasant vanilla and citrus fruit notes. Sweet as honey, Pilar Blonde would be excellent in tiki drinks or other sweet cocktails like the mojito. Pilar Dark is slightly high in proof at 86, and some of the rums used in the blend have been aged as much as 24 years. These older rums contribute a very complex spiciness and lots of vanilla to the nose and taste of the spirit. The influence of the sherry casks is much more evident in the Pilar Dark. If you mix it with anything, use a good Caribbean ginger beer, and not much of that.
Reflecting Hemingway’s career as a soldier and war correspondent, the bottles are cleverly designed to look like glass army canteens, and a compass hints of his adventurous and wandering spirit. At about $30 and $40 for Blonde and Dark respectively, Pilar rums are priced like the premium products that they are. Go ahead and splurge on these. Papa would approve.