Don Q Gran Anejo

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by Raul Faria

While Don Q may not be the first name that jumps to mind when people hear “Puerto Rican rum” the company points out that it actually outsells any other brand of rum on the Island and is actually headquartered in Peurto Rico for almost 150 years. Destilaria Serrallés that produces Don Q is a family run company going back six generations, The Seralles family’s rum has been a staple in islands since its first cask in 1865. It was also the rum that was used in the first Pina Colada at the Caribe Hilton Hotel by barman Ramón “Monchito” Marrero Pérez (he was credited as the inventor by the by the Sage of all that is tropical and boozy, Jeff Beachbum Berry in Potions of the Caribbean). Don Q Gran Anejo is an anejo aged Puerto Rican Rum and is considered the crown jewel of the Don Q line. Blended with rum that has been aged in American white oak casks from 6-12 years and some are even aged for 20 years in the Solera method, it is a bold yet balanced expression of an aged rum. It is a sipping rum, a rocks glass, an ice sphere and maybe a dash of pimento bitters and you’re all set. Below are my impressions of Don Q Gran Anejo

Aroma- Big oak with crème bruleé burnt sugar, pronounced vanilla with fruity tropical notes providing the foundation.

Taste- Velvety texture and luxurious mouthfeel, almost buttery with woody oak flavors front and center backed up with toffee, vanilla, crisp pear with faint notes of pimento.

Finish- Long woody and walnut tannic finish with some lingering vanilla.

I also got a chance to speak with Western Regional Manager for Don Q rum, David Duran, about Gran Anejo and Don Q.

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How is Don Q rum different from other Puerto Rican rums on the market?

We age everything, including the rum we use in our flavored rum, a minimum of 1 year. To be called a Puerto Rican rum it has to be aged a minimum of 1 year. We are very specific about our process. For example, we pasteurize our molasses before fermentation to kill any bacteria or wild yeast, we used the same strain of yeast since 1935, we distill 5 times, we age at low proofs and we age and blend all our rums. It’s all about making a clean distillate and letting the barrels do the talking. With our base rums we add no sugar and with our flavored rums we use all natural flavors and infusions and we never use artificial colors nor preservatives. Finally, we have invested millions of dollars to make sure the operation is ecologically sound and sustainable, even though doing this makes our rums more costly to produce. For example, we treat all our waste water which is costly instead of dumping our waste water in the ocean like some of our competitors do. After all, it’s about doing the right thing!

What factors contribute to Don Q’s #1 position in Peurto Rico over some of the bigger brands?

We have been making rum on the island since 1865, longer on the island than any of the other distillers. For 6 generations the Serralles family has been perfecting the art of making exceptional rums on the island and the quality, taste and smoothness of Don Q rums have made it the local favorite. Puerto Ricans cherish light and mixable rums that are great in cocktails and Don Q rums deliver a perfect combination of smoothness, structure and clean rummy flavors.

Does Don Q grow its own sugar cane? If not where is it sourced?

No, we do not. It is sourced through brokers and we are very specific in who and where we get it from. As recently as the late 1970’s there used to be nothing but sugar cane fields surrounding the distillery, but the local sugar industry could not compete with other lower cost regions. The Serralles family is working with the government in bringing sugar cane back to the island and the government recently started by planting about 1000 acres. We hope to continue growing sugar cane production on the island to more than 3000 acres in the near future.

Describe the barrel and aging process of the Don Q Anejo and Gran Anejo? Where does don Q source the barrels?

Anejo is a blend of 3-10 year old rum aged in American White Oak barrels. It is by far the best rum on the planet priced below $20. In fact, it’s a steal. Gran Anejo is a blend of 6-12 year old rum aged in American White Oak barrels and Solera rums aged up to 20 years in Sherry Casks. Our barrels come to us after being used 2 times. First in bourbon, then American or Canadian Whisky. We choose those barrels so some of the Char is not too strong which will affect the flavor profile we are seeking through aging.

How does the flavor of Gran Anejo compare to Bourbon?

I call it the brown spirits (Bourbon, Scotch, Cognac) drinkers’ rum. Because we add no sugar and let the barrels do the talking, it is smooth, elegant, well structured and has all the nuances of a fine Bourbon or Scotch. One of my friends calls it “The Caribbean Cognac”!

How do you enjoy your Gran Anejo?

The way it should be… with One Gläce Ice Sphere in a snifter. But by the way, it makes an amazing Manhattan too!

I want to thank David Duran for taking the time to chat with us about Don Q Gran Anejo. Be sure to visit donq.com for more information on their line of rums and find out where you can pick up a bottle!

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