Meet the Maker: Cristhel Molina, Marketing Manager – UK and Global Travel Retail, Don Papa Rum

Cristhel Molina, marketing manager for UK and global travel retailer at Don Papa Rum talks to SLTN


Q: Name of the brand you produce.

A: Don Papa Rum.

Q: Where do you work?

A: I am currently based in London, which is our headquarters in Europe. Prior to that, I was based in Manila in the Philippines, which is the global headquarters for Don Papa Rum.

Q: How long have you worked on the brand and how did you start?

A: I’ve been working for Bleeding Heart Rum Company since 2013 – a year after it was launched in the Philippines. I started as the brand manager for the company and was one of its first employees. For the past seven years I’ve been managing the sales and marketing of Don Papa Rum in Asia Pacific and Global Travel Retail. Over the past two years, I’ve spearheaded new product development projects for the Don Papa Rum portfolio, such as the Don Papa Sherry Cask and Don Papa Sevillana.

Q: Describe the production process.

A: Don Papa Rum is made from 100% Negros Island sugarcane molasses, which is one of the best quality sugarcanes in the world. These molasses are crushed in ancient sugar mills on the island and brought to our distillery for distillation and ageing. Using American oak ex-bourbon barrels and STR barrels (which is unique to Don Papa), the rum is aged for seven years. The humidity in the Philippines is so intense that it causes an evaporation of approximately 8%-12% per year (angels’ share). The master blender then selects the best barrels to harvest and blend.


Q: What’s a typical working day like?

A: A typical working day at Don Papa Rum is always exciting and never boring. As the marketing manager for the UK and Global Travel Retail, I balance my time between visiting different regions of the UK and, outside the UK, working with our distributors and clients, as well as our global marketing team. My typical working day would always start with a cup of coffee and end with a dram of rum.

Q: Please provide brief tasting notes for your products.

A: Our brand’s flagship, which is Don Papa Rum, is aged for seven years in American oak ex-bourbon barrels. This light amber liquid is light and fruity on the nose. It boasts signature vanilla notes together with orange citrus notes and ends with a smooth, long finish.

Q: What would you say sets your product apart?

A: Most rums in the world come from the Caribbean or Latin America, which makes a premium aged rum from the Philippines truly unique. The Philippines has been known to be one of the biggest exporters of sugarcane in the world, and where there is sugar, there is rum. Don Papa Rum is the original premium aged rum from the Philippines.

Q: What one fact should bartenders know about your brand?

A: Don Papa Rum is a very versatile rum that is good enough to drink on its own or used as a cocktail.

Q: What’s your favourite part of the job?

A: When I was doing the product development for Don Papa Rum, my favourite part was learning about the science that goes into the development of spirits, particularly with rum. I loved learning about barrel ageing, conceptualising ideas on packaging, and developing the brand’s story based on the taste of the liquid and the heritage of Don Papa Rum.

Q: What’s your favourite way to drink your brand?

A: I personally love having my Don Papa Rum as a Negroni or an Old Fashioned. As for the super-premiums, such as Don Papa 10, Don Papa Rare Cask, Don Papa Sherry Cask and Don Papa Sevillana, I prefer drinking them on the rocks.

Q: What’s your career highlight so far?

A: Winning accolades for the products I’ve spearheaded, such as our first gold medal win for product category in the San Francisco International Spirits Competition for the Don Papa Sherry Cask.

Q: Who do you admire in the industry and why?

A: I look up to my superiors within the company such as the founder of Don Papa Rum and our directors in Europe and the USA. They are all industry experts having worked in the spirits industry for more than 20 years. I take their wisdom and consider them as my mentors.

Q: How do you relax outside of work?

A: As your typical millennial, I try to achieve a proper work-life balance. Work itself already involves some play which keep things fun and interesting. Outside of work, I try to balance this lifestyle with yoga and spontaneous trips outside of the city.

Q: If you could invite anyone for a drink who would you ask, where would you go and what would you drink?

A: I’m a big fan of stand-up comedy, so if I could invite anyone for a drink, it’ll be Conan O’Brien and we’ll go to a local bar anywhere in the world and drink rum Negronis.