Don Papa super-premium rum recently arrived on Australian shores and has quickly established itself as a favourite with both consumers and bartenders.
The brand was launched in 2011 by Stephen Carroll, who previously worked at Diageo and LVMH before creating Bleeding Heart Rum Company. Carroll was inspired by stories of an island in the Philippines reputed to have the finest sugar cane in the world.
Negros Occidental, known locally as Sugarlandia because of its rich swathes of sugar cane, is a fertile island that is home to the active volcano Mt Kanlaon. The name Don Papa was inspired by Dionisio “Papa Isio” Magbuelas, a sugarcane farmer and a Filipino revolutionary leader who played a key role in the late 19th century revolution in freeing the island of Negros from Spanish rule.
The heat and humidity on Negros causes rapid maturation, producing a sweeter, richer liquid. The combination of the volcanic soil, quality of the sugar cane and the seven years it spends ageing in oak give Don Papa its rich, smooth taste. It is light and fruity on the nose, smooth and delicate in the mouth, with a long-textured finish, offering flavours of vanilla, honey, and candied fruits.
Don Papa is currently one of the fastest growing premium rum brands globally, with the premium and super premium rum category in double digit CAGR growth since 2016 (IWSR, 20). Over 70% of that growth is coming from only four brands: Plantation, Diplomatico, Zacapa and Don Papa Rum.
Drinks Digest spoke to Nick McShane, Brand Manager for Don Papa Rum, about why the brand has been so well received in Australia.
He explained that spiced rum has dominated the marketplace for rum in Australia for many years, while Don Papa aims to introduce consumers to the quality and versality of aged rum.
“What makes Don Papa a refreshing new brand is that it has a unique marketing mix that supports both consumer and customer trial, and ultimately encourages brand loyalty,” he said.
“The brand, outside of its clear liquid credentials, has a truly unique and authentic story, which is supported through its striking packaging and design. This combination of authenticity, craft, providence, and packaging, all work in tandem to support its premium, yet inviting brand positioning.
“It’s this product mix that ultimately helps set Don Papa apart from the rest of the premium competitive set and is of the key drivers that has encouraged brand re-call and re-purchase rates post trial.”
McShane said Don Papa has received a lot of positive feedback from bartenders, who tend to gravitate to brands that have rich and authentic origin stories, “and that is something that Don Papa has in spades”.
He added there are a number of key macro-trends that are influencing the spirits industry as a whole, including
premiumisation, independence and craft, cocktail culture, and story and providence.
“For the likes of Don Papa, we are constantly seeing consumers seek out more premium and craft alternatives, ultimately opting to trade up in favour of drinking better,” he noted. “This rise of premiumisation has additionally lead consumers and customers to search and engage with brands that have truly authentic traditions, origins, and stories – something that they can emotionally connect to, and give rise to a sense of discovery.
“However, outside of its rich stories, the rum, as a liquid, is incredibly versatile, allowing consumers and trade to enjoy it either neat or on the rocks, or can be the perfect base in several elevated serves or twists on the classics.
“Australia is seeing a rising appreciation for craft- defined by authentic production and time. Rum commands the craft space, being produced locally as well as having roots all over the world that tote many great traditions.
“Don Papa champions genuine processes and patience. Where Australians want to drink hand-crafted aged spirits, made from great cane, and aged imperturbably, Don Papa delivers.”
As for how McShane prefers to drink Don Papa, he admits that he’s an “occasion-based drinker” who enjoys certain drinks in certain situations.
“When it comes to Don Papa, the liquid is so approachable it can go either way,” he concludes. “If I am sitting and enjoying the liquid, I would prefer to enjoy it neat, savouring the rum which highlights its beautiful flavours, everything from candied fruits to light honey and vanilla, but I will also say it adds a delicious twist to the classic cocktails like the Mai Tai, Pina Colada, and a New York Sour – definitely a perfect addition to your at home drinks trolley.”
Don Papa Rum is available to purchase at Boozebud Hub: https://www.boozebud.com/p/donpapa/donpapa. RRP: $84.99.