An insider view of Hacienda San Isidro, home of Ron Abuelo.
Upon arrival in the quaint little town of Pese, we were greeted by our tour guide at the original home of the Varela Family, a colonial style house that serves as a memorabilia museum where you can get acquainted with the story of the Varela family and how everything started.
The first step is a visit to the actual San Isidro Estate, named after the patron saint of farmers. Celestino, a local country man, picks us up in an ox-driven wagon and takes us to the sugarcane field where we get to sample the sweetest and freshest sugarcane while he explains the harvesting process of the sugarcane, its origins and green practices within the ranch.
We move to the next step where we get to see firsthand, the collection, peeling, fermentation and distilling
At the cellars, our guide explains how the rum is aged in oak barrels (previously used to store whisky/bourbon
in the USA) using the Solera method – “a process for aging liquids by fractional blending in such a way
that the finished product is a mixture of ages, with the average age gradually increasing as the process
continues over many years”.
The cellars remain closed to keep the room temperature fresh and they are monitored by the master blender
who evaluates the aging process based on the established standards of color, flavor and even the presence of
We return to the visitor center where we watch a short and informative movie about the history of rum
and finally we get to sample the 4 varieties of rum: Abuelo Añejo, Abuelo 7 Year, Abuelo 12 Year and the
house signature rum Abuelo Centuria 30 Year.
We start our tasting with the youngest rum and move along to the oldest rum gradually learning about the
characteristics of the rum and its evolution through time and maturity.
The younger the rum, the higher the proof and the lighter the color and the glass coating clears faster. As the rum ages, the tannins in the barrels help the rum develop flavors such as molasses, cinnamon, brown sugar, fruits and the alcohol presence is reduced becoming smoother and more refined hence a thicker and slower glass coating and a darker amber to brownish color. Ron Abuelo is full-bodied, smooth on the palate with toasted and mature notes coming from the distinctive wood barrels.
The fundamental qualities to consider when tasting rum are:
1) Visual: color, density and texture.
2) Smell: differentiating aromas.
3) Taste: experience the different flavors accentuated by the tannins and age of the rum.
Rum enthusiasts recommend that you drink your Abuelo straight or on the rocks, with the exception of
Abuelo Añejo which also makes a great cocktail rum.
Connoisseurs prefer to drink Abuelo 12 Year in small private gatherings with friends and family and insist that Abuelo Centuria should be reserved for quality time alone or for very special private / intimate occasions
with very good company.
Ron Abuelo has won multiple awards in international rum competitions and their price ranges from the youngest under $10.00 a bottle to the oldest at $122.00 a bottle.
Abuelo Centuria 30 Year was introduced in 2008 to commemorate the 100 years of the family estate.
If you are traveling to Panama, include this tour on your “must do” list, it is well worth the visit.
The original distillery was called La Herrerana. Due to the town’s growth during the late 1960s and early 1970s, the distillery has moved to what today is known as “Hacienda San Isidro”. At the time Hacienda San Isidro was founded, it was the most modern sugar factory in Central America with an investment over 4 million dollars.
Back when the Varela Hermanos originatied , the sugarcane was carried by ox-driven wagons. That tradition continues today. Varela Hermanos exports Ron Abuelo to 35 countries in the world, their rums have won multiple awards and are sought after by the most discerning rum enthusiasts.
For more information about the tour contact:
(507) 6670-8425 / (507) 6550-4498