Rum Nation Panama 21

Rum Nation Logo

This article marks the second Rum Nation release that I have been fortunate enough to cover here. The first was their Jamaica White Pot Still which you can read all about here whilst also getting a little history of the Rum Nation brand and the man behind it, Fabio Rossi.

Lets get down to business then…..

Rum Nation Panama 21 – 40% ABV

RNP21 BoxThe first thing that strikes you about this Rum is the presentation. The box, whilst having a simple matt black lid resplendent with silver text and bottle outline, has a mirrored cardboard base that just oozes quality. Within that base lies one of the most dazzling bottles that I own. Large satisfying silver topped cork? Check. Heavy decanter style bottle? Check. Silver band around the stubby bottle neck bearing the Rum Nation logo and age of the Rum? Check. Spanish text that I can’t understand? Check. Fortunately, the latter is easily resolved. Whilst if the Rum is good enough, it can be presented to me in a cardboard box with a plastic tap, there is something quite ceremonial about removing the bottle from its reflective home, uncorking it with a satisfying ‘pop’ (I’ll wait whilst you insert your finger into your mouth to make a popping sound) and then pouring the mahogany liquid into a suitable vessel whilst the aromas fill the room. The Rum itself is a blend created by Francisco ‘Don Pancho’ Fernandez. It is distilled in a continuous column still and is aged in ex-bourbon American oak barrels for a period of 21 years. From the information that I have uncovered online its origins are based at the Varela Hermanos Plantation and Distillery that also produces Ron Abuelo. RNP21 Inner BoxThe mature distillates are blended in Panama prior to being exported to Italy for bottling, fully certified in terms of both origin and age. The beautiful bottle that carries the liquid is produced in Italy therefore it makes sense take the liquid to the bottles to avoid sending empty bottles from Italy to Panama and then back again. Releases of this Rum are limited. The first release of 3600 bottles was in 2011 with a second release again of 3600 bottles in 2013. The last release of 5436 bottles was in 2014 (Lot Number 14258). I only wish that I were tasting this Rum is sunnier climes, perhaps on a sunny terrace overlooking the beach with the smell of cigars and the saltiness of a retreating tide in the air. Sadly I’m in Cheshire, it’s considerably less than tropical outside and I’m engrossed in the Arnold Bitner book: Scrounging the Islands with the Legendary Don the Beachcomber. Lost in the book and nosing the Rum, taking the occasional sip until it hits me again….that is why I love Rum so much….it has the ability to transport you to these places, no matter your location. It has the ability to paint pictures that are so convincing, they could be memories of a past adventure. But enough waffle, what does the Rum taste like?

RNP21 Bottle Glass

Tasting Notes 

In the glass: The Rum displays itself as a beautiful dark mahogany and a swirl of the glass releases slow reluctant teardops of Rum. The aromas bubble over the glass and the aromas of stone fruits such as prunes and dates start to fill your nose…raisins follow along with a sherry like aroma. Salted caramel sauce, chewy toffee sweets and a little brown sugar all follow the sherried notes and there is the lightest hint of smoke. It reminds me of a holiday that we once took to Newquay where we stuffed local fudge into bananas and put them onto the barbecue to warm through releasing warming smoky caramel aromas into the night air. Leather and tobacco are next to show up and really make me wish that I had a cigar to pair with this Rum….Chocolate and black cherries are also apparent in sort of a liquid Black Forest gateaux. An oaken element and more of that tobacco round out the nose which has been extremely pleasant.

In the mouth: The Rum leads with a little bite which is a nice surprise after its aroma packed easy-going nose. Maybe its a little bit of a dark horse! Smoky sweetness and those sherried notes are the first flavours to fill my mouth carried on its medium body….that’s medium…not the chewy behemoth that I was expecting. Prunes and raisins lead the next flavour assault wave before a beautiful oaky dryness starts to fade in and bring with it a little pepper. It has a bit of an attitude too with the pepper which shakes things up a little. Brown sugar, chocolate sponge cake with amarena cherries and cream is hitting me in a big way along with apricot before light dry orange peel appears….very much like a dry curacao. The finish is of a medium length and is medium dry with a heavy leather and tobacco influence. Oak and sherry are also there before the fade into a last peppery kick. Again…I wish that I had a cigar to pair with it as the leather influence is amazing with the tobacco leaving the same feeling in your mouth as when you are sitting out in the last of the evening sun finishing a cigar. It’s a strange one for sure in the fact that it appears on the surface to be a soft and playful puppy dog that eventually nips you with those needle like teeth…that’s what that little peppery kick feels like. At times it feels a lot stronger than 40% abv due to the little bites it keeps taking out of you but you need that little bit of attitude. It’s not the lazy old man of the Rum world given its 21 years…its grown old gracefully but retains its reckless teenage streak as the oak has not over influenced it.

The Rum itself retails for around £75 to £92 and when picked up at the lower end of the bracket is in the same price bracket as El Dorado 21…and although they are totally differing styles, this maybe has a shade more going on given its attitude….both warrant purchase though. I’d gladly extol this Rums virtues to anyone who would like to listen….pop around and be sure to bring a few cigars…Montecristo Open Masters maybe…nothing too heavy. Better still, fly me to that terrace overlooking the beach…I’ll bring the Rum.

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, both written and photographic without the express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Ron de Jeremy

Ron de Jeremy CloseYep….you read that right…..Ron Jeremy…..the larger than life character and famed star of many ‘artistic’ films best viewed with the curtains drawn…..apparently. Now you may be forgiven for wondering why on earth you’d be interested in purchasing something that some may see as purely a gimmick with more style over substance due to the famous figurehead…..indeed the general reaction within the office when the bottle arrived was one of mirth from the chaps that were familiar with Ron’s work and recognised his face on the quite magnificent logo. However, when you learn that the rum used to create Ron de Jeremy is distilled and blended in Panama by the legendary Cuban born master blender Francisco ‘Don Pancho’ Fernandez, who has worked with such rums as Ron Abuelo and Havana Club, you need to look past the innuendo and knob gags and investigate further.

The initial chaos and hype around the launch of Ron de Jeremy has now subsided and its possible to approach the rum as a drink rather than a celebrity fronted drink. The rum is distilled in a column still at Alcoholes y Rones de Panama in South Central Panama using molasses from their own sugarcane fields and it is then aged in ex-bourbon American Oak barrels for 7 years. Caramel colouring is added to return the rum back to the colour that it was within the barrel as diluting the rum to its 40% ABV changes the colour of the rum. The colouring also enables the distillery to stabilise the colour of the rum between batches.


A spiced rum is also produced and it unsurprisingly goes by the name of Ron de Jeremy Spiced. This is from the same base rum as the Ron de Jeremy but the rum is introduced to spices such as vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg. It also boasts a higher 47% ABV. Signed

I was initially supplied with a bottle of Ron de Jeremy by Olli Hietalahti at the aptly named One Eyed Spirits for inclusion in this article…..I clearly enjoyed it as I made short work of the liquid and that bottle didn’t last too long….I then purchased another two bottles and was lucky enough to get one of them personalised and signed….I also added the Ron de Jeremy Spiced to my line up!

But, enough rambling, as usual, you want to know how it tastes and if indeed it does have a ‘long smooth taste’…..

Tasting Notes – Ron de Jeremy

In the glass: The rum is a golden straw colour with darker amber flashes. It doesn’t offer much in the way of clues immediately and I have to leave the glass sitting for a while before any of the delicate aromas decide to show up. When they do, unlike their namesake, they are shy and restrained! There is a very light oakiness and a light fresh fruitiness that I can’t immediately call. An almost fresh sugarcane aroma is followed up closely by a light hit of vanilla and a slight sugar sweetness. A few glasses in and the fruit that I’m searching for may be pears.

In the mouth: The rum is a lot sweeter than expected but not in a cloying way. It still retains its freshness and is unbelievably smooth. The fruit to taste is definitely pear and it sits well alongside the vanilla and light oakiness. There is a slight peppery end to the rum and the finish is initially sweet but drying out quickly. It has a long finish with more oak and sweetness lingering. Very enjoyable.

Tasting Notes – Ron de Jeremy Spiced

In the glass: This is an entirely different beast. The rum is dark reddish-brown and reminiscent of a cup of black tea in the way that the colour disperses and lightens as you tilt the glass. The initial smell reminds me of the first time that I smelt The Kraken Rum. Straight away there is an overriding creaminess to the rum with hints of toffee, vanilla, light spice and custard. It’s almost like liquid crème brûlée. There is also a good dollop of custard with cinnamon. I can smell a familiar childhood aroma in there too and I think that it’s the smell of cola cubes!

In the mouth: Straight away there is the vanilla sweetness with the creaminess of a nutmeg topped custard tart. This is backed up with the cola cubes and more vanilla sweetness. I want to say chocolate but I’m not entirely sure on that one. The mouthfeel is very creamy and the finish is long, dry and has a bit of a kick…but not an unpleasant kick. This spiced rum is a bit of a revelation to me as previously, the only spiced rum that I have regularly drunk neat has been Foursquare Spiced but I have to say that I’m a little smitten with the flavours and feel of this rum…so much so that beyond mixing with coke (which worked very well) and trying out a spiced daiquiri (which didn’t), I have enjoyed this rum as a sipper! Probably not the intention of the producers but it really works for me.

There is a lot of information and opinion out there about Ron de Jeremy, both good and bad, but its haul of awards tell their own story. Gold and Silver Awards in Madrid and London along with numerous nominations, awards and listings in ‘best spirit’ categories. At the modest price of just over £30 for each expression, there really is no excuse not to try them. I saw fit to by multiple bottles.

As always, the choice is yours when it comes to spending your money on a bottle of rum but whilst it may not be the best sipping rum you’ll ever try, it just might be! After all, who am I to define what is, was and will be the best. I’ve not encountered ‘the best’ yet and probably never will, though I do have my personal favourites….though this changes frequently. One thing that trying these rums has made me want to do, is seek out more of the rums blended by Francisco ‘Don Pancho’ Fernandez. I have Ron Abuelo 7 and 12 which are both tasty rums but the holy grail would be the Origenes by Don Pancho range. A pair of 18 and 30 year old rums that represent a mans lifetime of experience and devotion to an art form that has shaped him and his life. One day……….

© Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, both written and photographic without the express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Steven James and Rum Diaries Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.