Pedro Mandinga – the first craft rum of Panama

This post is also available in: Spanish

Rum is the essence of Latin American countries. Wherever you go on the continent you will find this sugarcane-based spirit. Around 98% of rums are made with molasses, while other manufacturers use cane honey, but the creators of Pedro Mandinga rum utilize “raspadura” (raw brown sugar) that gives the products a smoothness uncommon in white rums.

The “Destileria Artesanal de Panama”, which shares the facility with La Rana Dorada craft beers, has created two rums: Pedro Mandinga Silver and Pedro Mandinga Spiced. These are the only two Panamanian craft rums in the country, and they are really special. In 2018 Pedro Mandingo aged rum will be launched.

Brad (right) and his head distiller Aldemar (left)

Pedro Mandinga Silver is white rum with a very unique taste. Unlike other liquors of its kind that only smell of alcohol, it has a subtle flowery aroma and when you taste it it is smooth with notes of banana and sugar floss. It is ideal for cocktails or on the rocks.

The Mandinga Spiced is different. It is Mandinga Silver with a blend of spices that includes orange peel, cloves, star anise, allspice, and vanilla among others. The result is a golden rum that smells like mulled wine and has a sweet flavor. It is very refreshing when you mix it with tonic water or have it on the rocks.

The rapadura making process.

Hernan Justiniani, Commercial Manager for Pedro Mandinga Rum, explained that the name selected for the rums was Pedro Mandinga, in honor of the freed black African leader who founded a “palenque” (a village of escaped slaves) in Panama and guided Sir Francis Drake on his incursions to the Spanish colonies on the Isthmus.

The label has the drawing of a Ceiba tree, which represents the tree from which Pedro Mandinga showed Drake that Panama was so narrow that they could see the Atlantic and Pacific oceans from the top of it.

The process for the manufacturing of the rums was created by the master brewer and distiller,Brad Kraus, a native of New Mexico, United States, who has made craft beers for 30 years and applied all that knowledge to create a rum recipe using organic “raspadura”, produced especially for that purpose in the highlands of Chiriqui, near Volcan Baru.

Kraus often says, “Beer is my life, but rum is my death”, because of the passion he feels for the new products. Together with his head distiller, Aldemar, he currently makes three kinds of rum and the brewery makes twenty types of beer.

Pedro Mandinga has made a deal with a farmer in an area near Baru Volcano, who has planted three hectares of organically grown sugar cane. After the cane is cut, it is put through a press or mill (trapiche) to extract the juice, which is then cooked for several hours until it becomes very thick. The mixture is put in molds until it solidifies and the final product, “raspadura”, is ready to be shipped to the distillery.

Once there, the “raspadura” is cooked for two hours and put into a fermentation tank for six days. The mixture is put in stills and a distillation tower where stripping run is produced after four hours and the spirit run after eight hours. Then the rum is diluted for five hours to let it mature, and finally it is filtrated and ready to be bottled. The result is a gift to the senses.

The Pedro Mandinga rum bar.

Pedro Mandinga dark rum is currently being aged in American oak barrels, which previously contained Kentucky Bourbon whiskey. You only have to wait a few months to taste the results.

Although Pedro Mandinga rums were only launched in 2016, they have already won 2 silver and 1 bronze medal in international competitions. The rums and cocktails of Pedro Mandinga can be tasted in their Rum Bar located in Casco Antiguo in front of Villa Agustina. They offer valet parking and are open from Monday to Sunday, always with interesting activities such as mixology classes, guest rum tastings, live music and you can even join their Rum Bar Club.

You can also purchase it at the branches of Felipe Motta Wine Store, Bodega Mi Amiga, La Fiesta Liquor Store or at the Pubs of La Rana Dorada. The company has also opened a Pedro Mandinga Rum Bar in Bogota Colombia.

If you are a rum connoisseur Pedro Mandinga rums will be a pleasant surprise.

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