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Grander Trophy Release 20A02 Panama Rum

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Las Cabras Distillery dates back to 1919 and its sugar mill origins. Ownership has changed hands several times since then, with a production renaissance commencing in the mid-nineties with the arrival of Francisco Jose Fernandez Perez, or "Don Pancho". After moving to Panama from his native Cuba, leaving behind a 35-year stint in Cuba's rum industry where he was lovingly known as the "Minister of Rum", Don Pancho discovered Las Cabras' neglected warehouse. Beneath the overgrown grass, he uncovered a copper column still with a small medallion inscribed with ‘Cincinnati 1922’, and decided to undertake both his and the distillery's "second act". Las Cabras is now one of the most well-regarded distilleries making "Spanish style" column still rum, employing methods of barrel aging and blending that Don Pancho honed during his many years in Cuba.

The Distillery has become a kind of open secret for independent bottlers of rum, several of whom have built relationships with Don Pancho, developing their brand's own blends and profiles in collaboration with him. When we get samples of a new rum label and see that it comes from Las Cabras, we take it seriously. Grander Rum has been working with the distillery since the brand was founded by Dan DeHart in 2015. Dan was born and raised in Kentucky, and applied his bourbon country roots to crafting small batch rums that were bold, innovative, completely unadulterated, and suited for enjoying neat or over ice.

This "Trophy Release" is the very first of a planned annual release from Grander. Yielding only 1,500 bottles, this very small production run is a blend of heavy and light column still rums from Las Cabras. Crafted from rums aged in ex-bourbon and ex-sherry barrels, all of the rum was distilled from molasses derived from locally grown sugar cane, and aged 8, 10, and 15 years. It’s bottled without any additives or chill filtration at a cask strength 55.2% ABV.

On the nose, the sherry influence is immediately noticeable, with figs and dates greeting you. Rich vanilla bean, pound cake, and a slight green herbal note slowly reveal themselves as well. The palate is viscous, buttery, and oily: with an absolutely wonderful cask strength fullness. There is a tug of war between sweet and dry, with a musty, almost smoky oak coming in and out amidst walnuts and sweeter notes of dried cherries, stone fruits, and vanilla extract. There is more barrel char on the finish, along with a hint of anise, that pound cake from the nose, and lots of sherried dried fruit.