The largest sugar cane spirits producer and bottler in Panama, Varela Hermanos SA traces its history to 1908 when Don José Varela Blanco founded the Ingenio San Isidro sugar mill, the first in Panama.

Today the company operates the Destilería Don José where they produce spirits from sugar cane juice and molasses. The sugar cane juice is pressed from cane hand-cut on the 1000 hectares of sugar cane fields surrounding the town of Pesé, squeezed at the distillery and then distilled and bottled under several labels. Most of this sugar cane juice spirit is bottled for local consumption or bulk export. Molasses from another sugar mill in Panama is purchased to make the Abuelo line of aged rums. The modern distillery operates a four-column continuous still to produce several sugar cane spirits under the Seco, Cortez, Rum Jumbie and Abuelo labels. The company also produces vodka and gin. Recognizing that burning the cane is detrimental to the quality of juice, none of the cane is burned before it is harvested. Varela Hermanos SA is one of the few companies in the Caribbean that harvests all of their cane by hand providing much needed employment in the rural area of Pesé. The company also maintains a community career training center as part of their community responsibility program.

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