Is called Sugarlandia is calling and it is the new campaign launched by Don Papa to make the world aware of the island of Negros, Philippines, the place where the sugar cane essential for the preparation of Rum is grown. We talk about it with Walter Gosso, Advocacy Manager of Rinaldi 1957, the Bolognese company that for more than 60 years has been importing onto the Italian market the excellence of spirits from all over the world, which now firmly includes Rum Don Papa.
Walter, let's start by talking about “Sugarlandia”, the name with which everyone usually calls the island of Negros, in the Philippines. What place is it?
The island of Negros is a truly unique place: it is located in the central part of the Philippines, surrounded by a wonderful sea and dominated by Mount Kanlaon, an active volcano almost 2500 meters high. Precisely the volcanic origin makes the soil of this island particularly rich in minerals such as magnesium and potassium, necessary for the optimal growth of sugar cane. Flora and fauna are very rich on the island, a biodiversity that was a source of inspiration for the Don Papa labels, which are characterized by illustrations of animals and plants present in the area. Furthermore, due to a very favorable climate, sugar cane on the island of Negros is harvested all year round, except in the two/three months of the rainy season.
Why is it called Sugarlandia?
Because it alone covers half of the entire Philippines' cane sugar production. The local inhabitants are almost all engaged in the cultivation and harvesting of sugar cane, activities presided over by haciendas founded even 100 years ago, such as the Santa Rosalia, owned by the Gaston family, whose fifth generation still lives in the magnificent 19th-century villa 30 entirely surrounded by sugar cane.
With Sugarlandia is calling, are you taking us to discover the island?
Exact. Sugarlandia is calling is a platform on which Don Papa will upload a series of contents that will tell, illustrate and above all show the island of Negros and its wonders, starting from the wild jungle surrounding Mount Kanlaon, on whose slopes cane is grown from sugar. But we will also talk about the production process of Don Papa Rum through immersive experiences in virtual reality, events and much more. Sugarlandia is calling is a journey to discover the Don Papa DNA, it is the call of the land from which it was born, a wild, untamed and beautiful land. The first video has already been shared on all our channels, don't miss it!
We won't miss it! But can you tell us the main phases of the production process of Don Papa Rum?
With great pleasure! Once harvested, the sugar cane is transported, within the day, to the Hawaiian Philippine Company, the oldest sugar factory on the island, dating back to 1918. There the process of squeezing the sugar cane begins, thanks to which the juice that is obtained is obtained. then it will ferment with very high quality local yeasts for about two months. The fermentation gives rise to the so-called "beer", the molasses which is then left to rest and subsequently subjected to filtration with vegetal carbons, to then be introduced into the distillation column inside the BAGO distillery, which is located in Taloc, very close to at the sea.
The protagonist of both the Don Papa collection and the Sugarlandia is calling is your 7 year aged Rum. What is your production process?
Once distillation is complete, Don Papa 7-year rum ages in washed and toasted American oak barrels, which rest in warm, humid cellars on the slopes of Mount Kanlaon. A peculiar characteristic of Don Papa 7 years is that during aging the part of distillate that evaporates naturally is never replenished, so that the final product is more concentrated, dark in color and very intense in aromas and perfumes. The result is a rum that is rich in vanilla and orange on the nose, while on the palate it is soft, pleasant and rounded, with notes of cocoa, candied fruit and passion fruit. Tasting a similar product is very fun, because what you expect after the olfactory examination is not what arrives on the palate, and this interchange of aromas is perhaps the most recognizable characteristic of Don Papa 7 years.
Can such an important rum be used in mixing?
Absolutely yes. Although its complexity makes it perfect for pure tasting, perhaps combining it with chocolate, candied fruit or an excellent cigar, Rum Don Papa 7 years is also perfect for mixing, but with some precautions. My advice is not to try to tone down its natural softness with dry products, but rather to do the opposite: play with its roundness by combining it, for example, with tropical fruit juices such as pineapple, mango, coconut and passion fruit, or citrus flavors such as that of lime and pink grapefruit. The same goes for liqueurs: never combine them with products that are too dry, but, on the contrary, enhance their softness.
Can you give us an example?
Of course: during the Don Papa Tour 2020 I invented a recipe that I called Tropical Negroni. The cocktail is composed of Don Papa Rum, Batida de Coco and Vermouth OSCAR.697 Rosso in equal parts. The fruity and rounded note of the Batida, combined with a particularly soft vermouth, married perfectly with the Rum, giving life to a fresh and balanced cocktail.