Dating back to the end of the 19th century, Sérum was born during the arduous and often deadly construction of the Panama Canal. Plagued by malaria, weakened by malnutrition and wearied by backbreaking labor, countless workers lost their lives due to illness, hunger and sheer exhaustion.
As necessity is the mother of invention, the mothers and sisters of the beleaguered workers were inspired to enhance their local rum by adding dried fruits, herbs and spices to it. This fortified concoction provided the necessary stamina to carry out the impossible task of finishing a full day’s work under the most gruelling of conditions. Later, this “miracle drink” was used not only for its boost of energy, but also for the alleviation of snakebites and for the treatment of malaria.
As the healing effects of the
rum became more and more evident, the men and women of the area began calling it
which means “the cure.”
…as legend has it.
As luck would have it, while rummaging through the inventory of medicines left behind by his predecessor, Colonel William Crawford Gorgas happened upon several barrels of aromatic rum and an ancient recipe for a most unusual potion. On closer inspection, he discovered that the rum was in fact a locally made elixir containing dried fruits and herbs with curative properties.
The natives called this fragrant spirit “Sérum.” It is believed that Colonel Gorgas was so entranced by the purity of Sérum that he consumed at once all but one of the barrels. The contents of the remaining cask were then used as a template according to which the distillery near the town of Pesé mixed the finest mature rums.
As a sign of gratitude for his service to the natives of Panama, Colonel Gorgas
would receive from the locals a barrel of Gorgas Sérum, named in honor of him,
on each of his subsequent birthdays.
Or so goes the legend…
It was 1914 when the steamship Ancon made history by becoming the first seaworthy vessel to enter the newly built Panama Canal. On board were wealthy industrialists, renown statesmen, seasoned mariners and intrepid adventure seekers all keen to be a part of this epoch-making event.
To welcome their illustrious guests, the Panamanian natives opened wooden kegs of their most prized rum, calling it “Sérum,” which they would consume only on special occasions. Mesmerized by this liquid “talisman,” which was said to bring good luck to those who imbibed it, the passengers and crew dubbed it “Ancon” in homage to the ship which had safely brought them to this enchanted land.
Ever since then, travellers hoping for safe passage through the Panama Canal
have drunk a toast with Ancon Rum.
Or so goes the legend…