Before becoming in 1862 the cradle of one of the most famous drinks in the world, Santiago de Cuba already housed historical treasures such as the first house in America, the first cathedral and the first museum in the country.
The city, founded more than five centuries ago, treasures and protects the secret for manufacturing Cuban light rum, an exquisite blend transmitted over generations. The Cathedral of Cuban Rum, also known as "Don Pancho" Storehouse. Created in 1921, it conceived the bases of aged rums and gave birth to a beautiful elixir "extremely aromatic -as the Master of Cuban Rum Tranquilino Palencia Estruch (Tano) would say-, from white oak and blends of several barrels".
In this place the genuine traditions of more than a century and a half old are put into practice, related to the technique of distillation and aging in white oak barrels, which ensures a finish to the rums and guarantees their quality.
According to the historical records of the province and the testimony of the Rum Masters born in the Heroic City, the name of Don Pancho is due to the name of its first manager Don Francisco Savigne y Lombard, who was known as Pancho. This man participated in the war of 1895 with Emilio Bacardi Moreau, who was the first mayor of the city of Santiago de Cuba.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, Bacardi was the president of the rum company and when in 1922 the aging building was opened, he appointed Francisco Savigne as manager.
Currently, the Don Pancho storehouse is the largest of the country in size, quantity of aged liquids and, therefore, the one that houses the most barrels in Cuba. The oldest aged bases of rums in the country are kept there. For this reason, the historical privilege has granted it the name of Cathedral: because it is the sacred place where these bases rest in a state of aging, for many years.
The Don Pancho Storehouse, a reference site for those who like Cuban rum, is located on Paseo La Alameda, very close to the railway station. As another sign of symbiosis and syncretism, these essences and their lovers follow the tradition of visiting Santiago de Cuba to reach El Cobre, the sanctuary of Our Lady of Charity. The same symbolic power that's attributed to her for being the Patroness of Cuba, is a nod to the respect of the rum manufacturers when they come to this old colonial town in their yearning to cross the doors of these aging houses.
Another feature that grants this distinction is that by housing the largest volumes in this Caribbean nation it is possible to produce the special rums, in limited editions, with great quality and a high degree of aging, a delight for collectors and people with exquisite palates.
Several myths related to this fact emerged among residents where the legendary Cuban Light Rum was born, which have also helped to promote the Don Pancho storehouse as the cathedral of this beverage. It is said that the climate of the city, one of the hottest in the country, along with the movement of the earth, as it is also one of the areas where the largest number of earthquakes in the island are recorded, are two "secrets" for the making of the coveted nectar. The same is said of the history, idiosyncrasy and traditions of the santiagueros (people from Santiago de Cuba).
Another of the "mysteries" is the fact that drinks inside the barrels never "fall asleep", they are always "awake" by the railroad traffic, avoiding the incrustations that so harm their aging process, as one of Leonardo Padura's chronicles would read in his compilation The Longest Journey, in the chapter dedicated to the legend of rum in eastern Cuba.
In addition to the first centenary of existence of the Don Pancho Storehouse, the city is proud to be the cradle of the Rum 500th Anniversary of Santiago de Cuba, presented during the XXXIII International Fair of Havana, a product promoted by the Cuba Ron Corporation S.A, as the heir to a mighty cultural tradition.
This facility, in addition to its atmosphere of heritage and tradition, provides selling and tasting services at the tavern, with an area dedicated to the typical rums of this eastern city.
Within the framework of the celebration of the storehouse's centenary, the Cuba Ron Corporation is preparing a group of commemorative actions that include the remodeling of the winery and the rum production areas, as well as the proposal of a limited edition rum, to celebrate together this important date, of great significance for the ancestors and traditions.