A rum tasting at the distillery.  PHOTO BY NICK DOLL

The Rum Also Rises at Key West Distillery

Hemingway-inspired watering hole opens


f there’s one thing Ernest Hemingway appreciated more than the written word, it was alcohol. Though the legendary author didn’t discriminate when it came time to drink, history reveals he had a fondness for rum and partook of it regularly at bars throughout his adopted hometown of Key West, Fla. If Papa were alive today, no doubt he’d add the newly opened Key West Rum Distillery and Experience Center to his list of local stomping grounds.

Housed inside a former brick tobacco warehouse near the island’s waterfront, the revitalized building serves as the home of the Hemingway Rum Co., makers of Papa’s Pilar, a line of premium sipping rums named after Hemingway’s boat Pilar. A replica of the 38-foot fishing boat hangs from the ceiling’s rafters.

A visit to the 8,000-square-foot production facility, tasting room, and store includes a peek at the distillery’s 350-gallon Hamilton Pot Still, capable of producing up to 80 gallons of rum each day, along with a trip to the tasting room, where you can sample the brand’s two Solera barrel-aged blends: Papa Pilar’s Dark Rum, bursting with hints of coffee and almonds; and Blonde Rum, which exhibits a crisp blend of citrus and vanilla notes.

“We wanted to showcase the symbiosis between a man and his rum while educating the public and bringing their entire visit alive by sampling the rums,” says Carlton Grooms, the brand’s director of operations. 201 Simonton St.; 305-414-8754; papaspilar.com

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