Rum connoisseur interview of the week: Carlos E Esquivel G. Founder & CEO of PILSA and co-founder & Global Brand Ambassador for Don Pancho Origenes Rum

Carlos E Esquivel G.
Founder & CEO of PILSA and co-founder &
Global Brand Ambassador for Don Pancho Origenes Rum

1) Who is Carlos Esquivel G.

I am the founder and CEO of PILSA, a sugar cane distillates purveyor for customers worldwide. It’s a company dedicated to the development and formulation of rums for different customers and segments of the rum market. I am also the co-founder and global brand ambassador of Don Pancho Origenes rums.

2) What made you fall in love with rum and when did it happen?

My first steps in the rum world where back in the late 80s as a Central and South America sales rep; the importer that I worked for had on their portfolio Myers, Appleton and Havana Club. So I became familiar with the category, however, it wasn’t until I met my Havana Club supplier at the time, who really taught me about quality rums. This supplier became years later my business partner. I also worked 7 years for Varela Hermanos, producers of several brands of rums like Ron Cortez and Ron Abuelo opening South American markets with their portfolio. Although I was fortunate to travel and visit different distilleries in Scotland, France, and the United States, it wasn’t scotch, cognac or bourbon that got my attention as rum did. Living in a country where the average temperature is on the 90s all year round, its hard to drink distillates neat, so the handy helper when you needed to entertain a guest was a sweet chilled rum cocktail. As years passed by, my palate became more developed, so I had to say “thank you” to the Cuba libre, piña coladas and mojitos for opening the way to the complex world of aged rums.

3) The biggest achievement you personally feel you have accomplished for the rum industry.

I feel very satisfied that our operation has been able to develop successfully, rums for a wide range of customers in different markets (a short list, in no order:  Don Pancho Origenes, Caña Brava, Panama Pacific, Grander, Selva Rey, Panama Red, Rum Arome). To see one of our “kids” become a tool that brings profit to the importers, pride to the mixologist who chooses our rums as part of their craft and satisfaction to the end customer, it is indeed a great sensation. That being said, I humbly think that our contribution to the rum industry so far is that we brought back the “old school” Cuban style of rum making. But what does that mean? It means that all of the rums that we had produced are from molasses and some of them go to a process called Carta Blanca, meaning that once the spirit comes out of the still, we lay it to rest in American Oak Barrels previously used to aged Bourbon and for the first three years, we don’t t call it rum. After this period of time, if the spirit has evolved as expected towards complexity, profile, and aromas, at that moment, we can call it rum. But, how old is that rum? In our world, it is zero. We then start to count “rum” years. Before that, it was “aguardiente” years.

4) What is that thing that makes you want to continue in the rum industry?


In spite of rum being around for a couple of centuries, it is now that we are starting to see beautiful expressions that are art in liquid form. Rum has given me a wonderful network of friends all over the world, but there is more to experiment and taste, always respecting the rum as a being as well as the consumer. The momentum for rum its really just starting, its fun, it’s exciting and it is invigorating, why quit now?

5) Favorite Rum Drink?

“Don’t tell Babo” created by Bratislav Glisic from EO in NY 1 1/2 oz Don Pancho Origenes 8YO rum 1 1/2 oz Dolin Blanc 3/4 oz. Nonino Amaro 3 Dashes Bitter Truth Chocolate Bitters Stir serve over fresh ice and lemon peel.

6) Where do you see the rum industry today and in the next 5 years?

Right now the big rum brands are losing worldwide their share of the market. However, the premium segment is coming strong. I still foresee a huge and bitter war between the big brands, this will benefit the small producers, the artisan producers, the quality-driven producers. A couple of years from now, you will find more quality rums on the shelves and the back bars, than the usual “sponsored” sugar cane distillates. Also, I see in the future a much more educated consumer than now.

7) Share some (2-3) of your mentors and how they have helped you.

I’d been fortunate enough to learn and work with people that I respect and admire, some of the life lessons learned came as words of advice on an evening of chatting and rum drinking some others as serious mentorship. From the countless people from all ranges of this industry I can mention my friend since the early 90s and partner for more than 20 years Francisco Don Pancho Fernandez for enlightening me on the process and principles of rum making; Beltran Domecq Williams for teaching me the importance of being the keeper of a tradition and the heritage of you family name. Anthony Terlato for reminding me that quality cannot be improvised, that quality lasts. And Luis Ayala, for reminding me the attention to detail and the importance of doing things “by the book”.

8) What 3-5 things do you have on your bucket list for the next 12 months?

To keep spreading the “gospel” of Don Pancho Origenes rum in the US, Europe, Scandinavia, and Asia To have a drink or two with all my rum friends around the world To continue the rum education, especially in the US.  To learn more about mixology and the cocktail culture, especially Tiki cocktails. To consolidate our relations with other rum producers.

9) Any last words?

Rum is the joyful kid of the sugarcane, enjoy it responsibly, enjoy it in good company.

10) Where can people learn more about you? Website? Social Media Page?

How can people learn more about you? Website? Social Media Page? They can reach me via  Facebook: Carlos E. Esquivel G.

Author: Fede

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