DonQ Gran Añejo

DonQ Gran Añejo rum

Product of:  Puerto Rico
Aged:
3-12 years (Solera)
Price: $50
Alcohol: 40% ABV
Context:  Premium Aged Rum
RG Rating: 8.5

Tasting Notes
DonQ Gran Añejo displays a beautiful light golden amber color through an attractive decanter; the presentation sets high expectations.  A wonderful vanilla bouquet leads, with caramel, paraffin, citrus and oak aromas following, then some sweetness but not as heady as you might expect.  More subtle notes include dried leather, a subdued citrus essence of mild meyer lemon but with a tart edge hinting of prune and cranberry, and sweet butter.  The initial taste is nicely creamy and more full bodied than the fine aromas lead you to expect.  Flavors consistent with the aromas spread quickly across your taste buds, with a little smoky char for added complexity before seamlessly transitioning to a buttery, nicely sweet finish.

Ricardo Serralles explains his rum

Anecdotes   
While touring the Serralles distillery in August 2011, I asked why the Serralles Distillery in the 1930’s choose DonQ as the brand for their rums.  Roberto Serralles (pictured at right), the fourth generation family member, holder of a PhD in Environmental Sciences and the man responsible for spearheading Serralles’ admirable efforts to “greening” the company’s production processes from distillation to waste reclamation, gave this elegant explanation:  “We are originally from Catalunya, Spain.  We are Catalan.  Don Quixote is the masterpiece of Spanish literature, and we want to be the masterpiece of Rum.”  In my studied estimation, they have certainly succeeded in producing the finest Puerto Rican rum available.   

Don Quixote painting @ Serralles

The Serralles family began producing sugar on their plantation in Ponce about 1820, and the first written record of Serralles producing rum for sale (an invoice) dates back to 1865, so the distillery is at least that old.  Beginning with a French copper pot still, a column still came online in 1934 exists today as a working testament to tradition and family craftsmanship.  The DonQ brand began at about the same time.  But most of the rum bottled as DonQ is produced in a modern statuesque five column still that towers nearly to the clouds.  Heavy rum passes once through the first column, lighter rums are prodcued using all five columns.  But. “The real magic of rum comes from aging in oak barrels,” Roberto Serralles declares.  Every DonQ rum is aged for at least one year, and the mellowing quality is plainly apparent.   

Sylvia @ Serralles

Master Blender, Sylvia Santiago (at right) allowed me to sample four Serrales rums, each diluted to 20%ABV for evaluation:  unaged light white rum, aged light rum, unaged heavy rum, and an aged heavy rum.  In both the heavy and light rum distillates. the difference produced by just one year of aging was obvious and delicious.  Message received.

Packaging was udpated in about 2009.  Gone is the paper-labeled, slab sided container (also used by St. Lucia Distillers for their fine Admiral Rodney rum), and until recently by Angostura for their 1919 rum.  There’s nothing wrong with the old bottle then, it keeps great company.  However, DonQ’s new bottle is a but more impressive and upscale. Packaging starts with an impressive display case lined in gold cloth that highlights the gold printing on a reverent square bottle sporting slightly broader shoulders and sides that taper gently toward the base. A faceted, hollow glass cap (doubles as a shot measure) adds a crowning affect.  It’s a welcome update and eminently presentable as a collectible rum.

Opinion 
DonQ Gran Añejo is clearly one of the finest Puerto Rican aged rums available.  Characteristically light, but offering a complex harmony of aromas and full of those desirable flavors associated with barrel aging, DonQ’s flagship rum is worthy of the family’s pridful efforts atop the distillery’s portfolio.  

Reviewed: August 2011 at the Serralles Distillery in Ponce, Puerto Rico and at the Rum Gallery, USA

© Dave Russell 2017