Katowice, Poland headquartered Dictador Rum, with a Cartagena, Colombia production facility has announced their second edition Mopa Mopa rum, Totem. The company says the brand was established to preserve cultural diversity, encourage traditionalism in art, and honor indigenous artisans and their techniques.
The brand claims in a statement that it owns the world’s largest stock of aged rum, up to 45 years old, which allows Dictador to release a range of innovative rum products to 80 countries around the world.
The limited edition, Dictador Mopa Mopa collection, is 360 bottles, each hand-decorated by Colombian artists. The inspiration for these bottles stems from the ancient tradition of using Mopa Mopa, a native South American phenolic resin, used for centuries in cultural contexts by artisans in the region of Pastó, Colombia, to decorate ceremonial drinking cups known as ‘Qeros.’ The process involves a complex cycle of production whereby sheets of flexible resin are extracted from trees of the genus Elaeagia, which grows in mountainous regions of western South America. This is done without harming the tree during the process.
Dictador says the trek to collect the resin is always done on foot and typically takes up to 5 hours to reach the destination point. Resin gatherers will then set up campsites in the wilderness for 8 to 15 days as they comb through patches of trees for viable harvest. In total, the resin gatherers will collect between 6-9 kilos of Mopa Mopa which will then be sold to varnish masters at a central location closer to town. Mopa Mopa is sacred because of the beauty it makes possible but also because of the effort involved in sourcing it and the rarity of it – the harvest only happens twice a year between May and November.
Because the artistry of Mopa Mopa is so intricate and time-consuming, it cannot be automated for mass production. As a result, the people involved are crucial in the making of these limited-edition bottles. Like many indigenous processes, the harvesting of Mopa Mopa and the ancestral knowledge of the Pastó varnish application process is under threat of being lost due to deforestation and agricultural encroachment. It is because of the passion and commitment of these local people that this artform has been kept alive.