Cheers To You, Ernest

In homage to Hemingway’s love for the sea, his boat Pilar, and Key West, comes a rum that would please even The Old Man And The Sea

By Kristen Mager

Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway

“It’s time for a rum that rekindles the wanderlust in us all. A rum inspired by possibly the world’s greatest adventurer.”
— Ernest Hemingway

Rum and rebellion have been a free-spirited duo since the pirate era of the 17th century.  Famed American writer Ernest Hemingway also lived for adventure. Today, the Hemingway Rum Company is bringing rum and Papa’s spirit alive on the label that’s raising the bar. It’s called Papa’s Pilar.

Named after Hemingway’s prized fishing boat, Papa’s Pilar is a marriage of rums from the Caribbean, Central America, and Florida. Barreled and blended with precise care, both blonde and dark blends live up to Papa’s legacy. Look for them on the top shelf where fine rums are served—and soon in Papa’s Pilar Rum Distillery & Experience Center in Key West.

The new distillery, opening in early 2017, will feature a trading post-style store and a big tasting bar.

“In Key West, you have to stand out to visitors yet  fit in with locals,” said Carl Grooms, the cellar master who will run the facility. “We’re working with the Hemingway family to make sure everything we do is accurate. We’re restoring an old 1878 tobacco warehouse a block off of the famous Duval Street.”

Living Up To A Legacy
“Rum’s been a passion of mine for years,” said Grooms, who traveled the Caribbean to mentor from the world’s best rum makers. The former Naval Officer who shares Hemingway’s “Never a SpectatorTM” mindset, has a bold resume and built a following on social media. Eventually, his rum passion led him to co-found the International Rum Council and co-author the book, “Rum & Contemporary Cuisine.”

When he partnered with the Hemingway Rum Company, Grooms loaded a van with 300 bottles of rum he’d collected over the years and headed to the southernmost point in the U.S.
Today, when crafting Papa’s Pilar, Grooms and his team scour the islands to find old rums that aren’t commercially available.

“We look for 20-plus-year-old rums that are sitting in warehouses getting yummy and happy and looking for a good home,” he said. “They’re beautiful in and of themselves and then we blend them up to produce our dark and blonde varieties that are always consistent as far as nose and color.”

Both rums are deliciously designed to be sipped as is. But they also make a nice base for old-fashioned libations like a Manhattan.

dual-bottles_geniiThe Sister Blends
Aged three to five years, the Blonde is the lighter of the two with vibrant vanilla undertones and a touch of coconut. It’s historically accurate to reflect the white rum of the 1920s, when Hemingway lived in Key West.

“Back then, rum makers didn’t have the technology or scientific care to filter rum with clarity,” said Grooms. “When you filter the color away, you remove the flavor.”

On the other end of the spectrum is Papa’s Pilar Dark. Based on 20-plus-year-old rum, this caramel-y sister variety is a great alternative to traditional bourbon or whiskey.

The Papa’s Pilar Difference
With so many rums on the market, what makes Papa’s Pilar stand out on the shelf?

“There’s a science and art to rum making,” said Grooms. “The science is in the distilling. The art is in the barrel and how you blend it. We take our rum through two layers of bourbon and a unique Solera process.” This involves aging the rums in Bourbon and Port Wine barrels, blending them, and finally finishing them in Spanish Sherry casks. Grooms says the  difference is that Papa’s Pilar is barreled in three types of wood: American white oak, Hungarian oak, and French limousine oak.

The bottle is unique, too, resembling the aluminum canteens U.S. infantrymen carried in the 20th century. It symbolizes Hemingway’s service as an ambulance driver during World War I and his exposure to the Normandy landings in World War II. If you turn the bottle around, you’ll even catch a glimpse of Hemingway’s signature.

To learn more, make a “rum” for

Shaken, Not Stirred, Papa’s Pilar Style

The Hemingway
1.5 oz Papa’s Pilar Blonde Rum
.5 oz Fresh Grapefruit juice
.75 oz Fresh Lime juice
1 tsp Maraschino liqueur
1 tsp Sugar

Combine all ingredients & shake; strain
Coupe glass

Old Cuban
2 oz Papa’s Pilar Dark Rum
.75 oz Fresh Lime juice
.75 oz Simple syrup
2 dashes bitters
6-8 Mint leaves gently muddled
Shake and fine strain
Top with 2 oz champagne
Coupe glass



Cheers To You, Ernest