One of the things I have always enjoyed about rum is the stories that inspired them. I had the pleasure of meeting Jim Wasson owner of Panamonte Brands in the spring of 2011. He cultivated his love of rum in Pre-Castro Cuba and as time passed he noticed that the refined rum flavors he grew up enjoying were getting harder and harder to find. So he made it his personal mission to create a premium rum with the flavor profile of his youth.
During his quest he teamed up with Master Blender Francisco “Don Pancho” Fernandez in Panama and together they created Panama Red. Distilled in small batches using sugar cane grown in the Las Cabrasde Pese region of Panama, the rum is aged in different sized oak casks previously used for Bourbon. Finally the rum is blended to 108 proof achieving the flavor profile Jim Wasson wanted.
To learn more about the back story of the rums name, please visit Panamaredrum.com.
The 750 ml bottle label has a classic fill to it. Trimmed in gold, the framing balances Panama Red herself featuring the words Pure Panamanian Over Proof Rum. The bottle is very easy to handle and is sealed with a screw cap.
The liquid has a golden orange hue in the bottle and glass. Swirling the glass forms long legs that descend quickly down the glass.
After I poured the rum in the glass the a rich honey caramel aroma filled the air. I let is settle and placed a lid on my snifter; after a few minutes the aroma is much more approachable. I find notes of Orange peel, cinnamon, an oak, then as they subside I discover a subtle hint of tobacco with the pleasant twist of dried apricot.
This rum is quite a flavor bomb. The smoothness is as surprising as the flavor is complex. It starts with a solid Caramel baseline. There is a nice cinnamon and nutmeg spiciness accompanying some of the heat. The dried apricot and tobacco I found in the aroma are present along with a nice twist of orange. As the initial rush of flavors subsides to the finish I pick up hints of tobacco and leather, grounding the caramel and leaving a lightly spicy vanilla sweet after taste in the surprisingly smooth finish.
Over proof rums as a rule tend to be rough and tumble products that are known and used for one or two dominant flavors. Panama Red takes this rules and shatters it. This rum is surprisingly smooth and complex and absolutely sippable which is unheard of with most over proofs. This product is definitely worth tracking down. Use it in your everyday cocktail for an extra punch or sip it straight to your preference.