Abuelo Rum Marketing Manager Larissa Arjona (interview)

Published by The Rumlab ago about the Abuelo company

Abuelo Rum Marketing Manager Larissa Arjona (interview) article cover image

Larissa Arjona, born & raised in Panamá. Recently, she became a Spanish citizen as she has been living in Madrid for the past 15 years, to study for her Master’s Degree in Law. She is a Lawyer too.

In a nutshell, she is a cool mother (of two), a great friend, a good peer, and an Epicurious human as she loves to discover, meet & share new experiences in countries & cultures.

TRL: What does the rum mean to you?

Rum means life & family to me, as my grandfather is from Pesé (Heart & Land of Ron Abuelo), and since a little girl we used to spend summers in the beautiful Valley and Pedasí (nearest beach), and the love for Ron Abuelo and Seco Herrerano is printed in our traditions and costumes.

TRL: What made you fall in love with rum and when did it happen?

Falling in love with Rum is too easy especially in Panamá, for me it was back in my teenage years during the Carnivals of Panama, which is a “big deal” over there, where Ron Abuelo is everywhere with amazing parties and part of everyone’s celebration.

TRL: Three essential characteristics that define the rum according to your perspective.

In my perspective, Rum has to be: strong, complex & smooth. Culturally, Spanish style “Ron” is meant to be drunk any way you’d like such as in cocktails, straight, on ice or paired with cigars, coffee, and good food.

TRL: What is the most important contribution you have made to the rum industry?

Well, this is a long haul, I’d like to think that I’m already contributing in the long term as an empowered woman leading a diverse team, sharing ideas towards our common goal which is being the best representative of Ron Abuelo & Panama we can be!

TRL: Benefits that the rum industry has given you.

– Freedom: free to lead, discover, experience, and enjoy different aspects of work and life altogether.

– Friendships: new friends made during my travels, organized events & work colleagues around the world who became my friends over time.

– Challenges: to be always driven, to look for the latest trends, organize tailormade plans in different countries according to specifics of their cultures to present Rum in the best light possible.

– Pride: Proud of representing  Ron Abuelo & Panama as it is part of my roots.

TRL: What’s another thing you are passionate about, in addition to rum? Why?

– I’m a family person so I also love to create unforgettable memories with my family, my kids, and my friends.

– I’m also a foodie, I love to try new things and get to know new cultures through food experiences, I just enjoy it so much and it makes me so happy!

TRL: What is your favorite place for drinking rum?

It’s a bit “cliché” but there’s no better place to drink Rum than by the beach. However, it’s very hard to have one favorite place so here are 3 of my favorite places to enjoy a  good meal with good rum :

In Panama: Maito in Panama City – www.maitopanama.com – and Lazotea in Casco Viejo – https://lazoteapanama.com –

In Spain : La Negra Tomasa in Madrid – www.lanegratomasa.com –

TRL. Favorite drink + Recipe

I’m a big coffee lover, especially when it comes to cocktails as you have the perfect balance between the bitterness of coffee with a nice creaminess and a touch of sweetness. (cocktail attached)

Panama Express


- 45ml Ron Abuelo 12 años

- 25ml Guinness Syrup (DM if you want the recipe @arjsagla)

- 25ml Coffee Liqueur

- 30 ml Espresso (better if Panamanian coffee)

Technique: Shake and double strain into a cocktail glass

Garnish: Chocolate powder (better if Panamanian cacao)

TRL: Why is it important to educate the rum consumer?

I believe education is knowledge therefore knowledge is key to understanding the complexity, versatility, and history of the Rum, Rhum & Ron World

Educating Rum consumers not only, as professionals our duty is also to reconcile non-Rum consumers with us as it helps to better understand the nuances in the many different cultures where Rum has originated.

TRL. Is the commitment to sustainable development the key to success for the permanence of the rum industry in the world? Why?

It is essential, especially with the increased human carbon footprint. I firmly believe that the Rum industry is already one of the most sustainable in the spirit business as the raw material is sugar cane which means that we do not need fertilizers or pesticides as the sugar cane needs only water and sun.

Ron Abuelo is committed to caring for natural resources. We have a strategic plan, which is allowing us to develop and execute more actions to achieve a 100% sustainable operation.

TRL. Who would like to meet in the rum industry? What would you say to him/her?

I believe everyone has a story to tell, but, of course, there are some people that I would love to have a conversation with, but they no longer exist, like Don José Varela, I would have loved to have a deep conversation with him and get a “boost” of inspiration by this adventurer and pioneer man (Ron Abuelo founder).

TRL. What are your next goals in the rum industry?

I would like to leave a footprint in the industry for sure, first my brand, I would like the whole world to recognize that this rum is just amazing, the history, the land, the production, the innovation, the passion, the people in the company and Zafra workers, everything that we are trying to do it’s just a part of a bigger plan and Ron Abuelo is already a pioneer but, need to get acknowledge for that. About me, my goal is to be part of the evolution of Ron Abuelo and list it as one of the Top Ten Luxury Rum Brands of all time, in the long haul, I want to be in the process and have contributed to achieving that.

TRL. Plans you have when you leave the rum industry.

Even if I get retired, my love for Rum will continue, and hopefully, I will share my stories when back in the days I was “RUMming” the world with Ron Abuelo. But, I´m still young, I would like to focus on the present time and we all should do that, live and enjoy the present.

TRL. Why is the role of the bartender important in the rum industry?

At the end of the day, Bartenders are the ones who can talk about your brand to a new potential consumer, and if they genuinely like our rum, they can spread the love of the brand.

TRL. What is your advice for new generations in the rum industry?

We can be whatever we want to be, as long as we are driven by a passion for what we do. Get inspired and then inspire the following generations after you.

TRL. How can people learn more about you? Website? Social media page?

You can see my crazy life on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/arjsagla/ , surrounded by my friends and family, and of course with a lot of Ron Abuelo