During the 1820s, a Spaniard by the name of Sebastian Serrallés emigrated to Puerto Rico and created a new hacienda named Hacienda Teresa. Being in the Caribbean and owning a decent plot of land, Serralles did what most new farmers did in the region: he started growing sugar cane.
In 1865, his son, Don Juan Serrallés Colon – now in charge of the Hacienda, imported a pot still from France and began a family tradition in producing rum. For the early part of the family’s history in making rum they focused on producing rum for a number of small, Puerto Rico-only brands. It wasn’t until around the time the U.S. ended its (ig)Noble Experiment and repealed Prohibition that the Serrallés distillery reorganized to produce its own, higher quality brand of rum, and Ron DonQ was born.
DonQ is a nod to the well-known literary character of Don Quixote (Don Quijote en Español) who tilted at windmills along with his loyal squire, Sancho, to win the heart of his lady fair (who had no idea what this Man From La Mancha was doing). According to the company’s website, “Just as Don Quixote represents the search for a perfect world, DonQ signifies the family’s quest for perfection in rum.”
DonQ Gran Añejo is the top of the line rum produced by Destileria Serrallés. It is a blend of rums that have been aged from three years to twelve years in used bourbon casks before being bottled at 80 proof (40% abv). The rums are all made using fermented molasses which is then distilled in the company’s six column stills.
The rum is packages in a heavy crystal bottle with gold embossing and a wax seal above the company logo. It’s quite the looker on the shelf.
In the glass the rum is a pale mahogany color. The requisite swirl leaves thin legs traveling down the sides of the glass.
Right away your senses are given sweet gifts of vanilla and molasses. There’s a heavy does of caramel and some grassy characteristics that catch you a bit off-guard. An almost honeyed scent fills your nostrils before the burn of the alcohol hits, preventing you from inhaling too deeply.
Honestly the beginning of the nose is quite lovely, but the finish of it is a little rougher than I expected from a Top-Of-The-Line rum like the Gran Añejo – especially one that is supposedly in the Puerto Rican tradition. This rum has a few rough edges left to it.
Rich vanilla, honey, and caramel greet your tongue on the entry. A wonderfully rich viscosity envelopes your palate as the rum fills your mouth. There’s a hint of grass at the mid-palate through to the finish with just a touch of leather.
The finish is initially smooth, but gives way to a bit of a strong burn. For 40% ABV, this rum feels very “hot” on the palate.
Just like on the nose, there are some rough edges that make themselves known toward the end. Again, this is rather unexpected in a Puerto Rican rum, as they – like most Spanish style rums – tend toward the cleaner, lighter side (unlike their Jamaican or Guyanese cousins).
Usually the flagship rum in a company’s line is something that people believe cannot be mixed. This Dood feels that the DonQ Gran Añejo, on the other hand, almost begs to be mixed.
Those rougher edges and bolder flavors are atypical both of Puerto Rican rums by tradition as well as premium rums as a category. They cry out to be tamed by the tart bite of a lime and the sweet caress of rock candy syrup. Like the bad boy character in a formulaic movie, this rum is all rough and tumble, but secretly just wants a loving hand.
Despite its pedigree, I wouldn’t recommend this for an Old Fashioned, but rather as a good stand-in for a Jamaican rum in various Tiki drinks. In a Navy Grog or even a Mai Tai, this rum actually works quite well. Still, as blasphemous as I’m certain Destileria Serrallés may find it (this’ll probably be the last time I see any samples from them, probably deservedly so), this is a rum that was almost born to be mixed with a squeeze of lime, a dash of bitters, and some Coca Cola.
1.5 oz Rum
.5 oz Lime
1 Dash Angostura Bitters
Build in a Collins with ice and top with sugar cane Coca Cola (or “Mexican Coke” as it’s often called here in the US where domestic Coke is made with HFCS).
The dash of bitters deviates a bit from the According to Hoyle (or Dave Wondrich) Cuba Libre, but we started doing this at 320 Main for our Cuba Libres and it’s just bloody delicious. For some added authenticity, throw one of your spent lime shells into the glass before adding the ice.
The Long & The Short Of It
DonQ is a rum with a long history in Puerto Rico and, unlike a certain other rum company that is well-known on the island, is a Puerto Rican original. The Gran Añejo is a damned tasty rum, but suffers from a bit of an identity crisis.
Gran Añejo is a great mixing rum, but only an average sipping rum. Those rough edges that give the rum character also make it a rather unpleasant companion in a glass without additional company – and its placement as a Premium rum somewhat demands that it be better alone than it actually is.
I honestly feel that if this rum were positioned as a Gold Rum instead of a Premium Aged Rum, I’d probably give it a higher rating within that context.
Dood’s Rating: 3 Bottles of Rum Out of 5
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