Last weekend, I was invited to Varela Hermanos’ Hacienda San Isidro by my friend Jorge Chanis, the Panama food blogger behind El Buen Diente. It’s Zafra time –cane harvest season– and together with the makers of Ron Abuelo, Jorge created an experience around the celebration of this yearly activity and tradition. It was so interesting to learn about the history of this national jewel; one of the best rums in the world. The Hacienda is located in Pesé, which is about 3.5 hours away from the city. We visited the home of its founder, José Varela Blanco; toured the distillery; and visited the warehouses where the rum is stored in barrels for ageing. We even got to extract the juice of some canes the old fashioned way: with a Trapiche –an ox-turned mill. And of course, we also had a tasting of their classic rums: Añejo, 7 Años, 12 Años and Centuria. To finish off the day, we had some sunset cocktails and later a huge dinner feast via the hands of chefs Luis Young from Crave and José Ragazzi from Tierra.
If you’re a rum enthusiast, and you’re ever in Panama, I highly recommend a visit to Hacienda San Isidro. If you want to know about our culture, there’s no better place than the Azuero peninsula, the region where Pesé is located in, and the birthplace of true Panamanian culture.
Photos by Jose Castrellon and I.