Bahama Bob's Rumstyles

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Rumstylin is coming to an end here in Panama

     It's our last day here in Panama and we can't leave without visiting the canal and seeing a ship or two go through the locks.     This is an amazing work of engineering and construction.     Between the seriouly heavy duty work of excavating, construction, and the enviornment, the Panama Ccanal killed way too many people during the construction.  

     Since the canal was turned over to the people of Panama iDecember 31, 1999 ti has been providing jobs and revenue for the region.    It takes a ship approximately 8 hours to pass from the Atlantic to the Pacific at a cost of approximately $200,000 each direction for every large ship.     The locks raise the ships up to the level of the lake and then lowers it back to the level of the ocean as it completes the journey across the ismas of Panama.

     After leaving the Canal Zone, we headed back to Panama City and visited the Old Town, Casco Viejo, to see the old architecture and the narrow streets.      Many of the buildings are in a state of disrepair now, but between the government and private investors the Casco Viejo is coming back to life.     The old city is coming back to life with a plethera of shops, squares and beautiful scenery that is unmistakeable of the early spanish influence.     One of the old buildings that is still in use is the French Embassy.     Located in the heart of Casco Viejo, this beautifully maintaind complex is a great facility to see.      As you look over the walls to the sea, you'll see surfers and a sea with waves that keep breaking fo such a long distance that you feel that the break will never end.     As you wander through the square, you'll find statues and a straw market fom which you can purchase curios of all type from the local venders.

     From Casco Viejo we went to the Valera Hermanos Bottling plant and the corporate offices in Panama City.     There we were treated to a tasting of some of the products that we hadn't seen before in the United States.   In addition we tasted some of the components that make up these fine aged rums.     After a discussion with the Master Blender, we learned of the components and the aging process that gives Abuelo it's fine taste, color, and clarity.     We were told of the history of the Abuelo line and how the Abuelo Anejo was first introduced in 1970, the Abuelo 7 year in December of 2005,and the Abuelo 12 year in December of 2008.     We were able to taste each of these fine aged rums along with rums from their early days.    

     The height of this whole trip is being a part of the introduction and the coming to America of the Abuelo Centuria Reserva de la Familia.    This is a pure solera process aged rum that has components that range in age from 7 to 30 years.     Everything about this fine rum from the special wooden box that houses the special bottle to the rum itself is a work of art.    This rum is the culmination of more than 100 years of rum making in Panama by Varelo Hermanos.     This is  by far the best effort to date.     When the only 200 cases of this fabulous rum comes to America you don't want to miss out on owning a bottle even at its $125 price tag,because  it is a real rumstylin' bargain.

     I would at this time like to say a special thanks to all of the people at Valera Hermanos for the warm and gracious hospitality given us throughout this week here in Panama.    I look foward to returning to Key West and introduce you to some new coctails and beverages from this very special operation.     ;o)

A Rumstyler at the Panama Beachside Resort

Resort as seen from the helicopter as we arrived.
     Yesterday was spent relaxing and getting set for today in Panama City and touring the canal.       We stayed at the Buenaventura located in Farallon at Cocle province.     This beautiful seaside resort is located about an hour and 1/2 from Panama City on the Panama's PacificCoast.      We spent 24 hours in luxury as the guests of Buenaventura.   I was allowed to be a "guest bartender" at the pool bar and share my "Painkiller" with the some of the locals and our Rum XP group.    We were able to savor the flavor of several local cocktails made with Abuelo Anejo and Seco.

     Seco is a curious local favorite that was created in 1908 by Valera Hermanos.     Seco was the product that moved Valera Hermanos from a sugar plantaion to a rum producer in 1908.      The Pese Valley is an area that is optimal for producing sugar cane and ideal for the production of this very neutral product.     Seco has many of the qualities of Vodka and a great neutral mixer that doesn't over power the mix.    I enjoyed  seco with cola, cranberry, orange juice, and gingerale.     Looking foward to making a "Seco Mary"  when I return to the Rum Bar on Saturday.    Traditionally Seco Herrarerano is mixrd with grapefruit and pineapple juices, "Chichita Panama" a drink that is still popular after more than 40 years.   On the Atlantic side of the country it is often served in a curious coctail called "Seco con Vaca", Seco with milk and coconut milk.    Panamanians consume this most of the Seco produced, but it is exported to the United States.     

Pool Bar at Buenaventrua

     Today we are going to the Offices of Valera Hermanos in Panama City for another round of rum tasting and discovery there.     The driver will then take us over to the canal where we will be able to see it's workings.    So far this trip has been fast paced, but the amount of information and pictures that I've collected is well worth the "speed of light" travel.      With the tempuratures in the low 90's and humidity tollerable, this is all and all pretty nice break from the "freezing temperatures" of last week, I know you feel sorry for me.     ;o)

Artwork at  Buenaventura

Beach facing the Pacific


Lighthouse over Pool Bar