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Don Pancho

Francisco “Don Pancho” Fernandez began his career in Cuba in the early 60’s working with his father, a wine and spirits merchant. After earning a degree in microbiology, he decided to pursue his passion for creating great rums.

In the 1970s as Director of the Cuban Beverage Industry and Master Distiller for Havana Club, Don Pancho led the renovation of the rum industry in Cuba, introducing modern technology, renovating cask inventories and modernizing plants and distilleries. He also helped to improve fermentation, production and blending techniques that set the standard worldwide with iconic products that can still be seen all over the globe. His work enabled him to travel the world and interact with myriad beverage industries including Scottish Whisky and Polish Vodka. These multicultural exchanges enriched his knowledge and skill and made Don Pancho the quintessential Master Blender he is today, with a unique and personal touch.

After the sale of Havana Club, Don Pancho moved to Panama and discovered a neglected distillery in the Herrera region of Panama dating back to the early 1900s. Beneath the overgrown grass, a copper column still was uncovered bearing a small plaque with the inscription “Cincinnati 1922.” He and his business partner, Carlos Esquivel, restored the Las Cabras distillery and transformed it into one of the great rum distilleries in the world.

Now after a successful 50-year career and countless industry awards, at an age when most are enjoying retirement, Don Pancho considers himself in his prime. He has created a rum with no compromises - rum he can truly call his own.