Rum Review: Don Q 2005
Don Q Single Barrel 2005 Limited Edition Rum Review
On the island of Puerto Rico, Don Q may not make the most rum, but among its residents, it is unquestionably the local rum of choice. It’s a tradition that began in 1865, when Don Juan Serrallés imported a copper pot still from France to further capitalize on the molasses from his family’s sugar plantation. It was a natural extension of his father Juan Sebastian’s sugar business, which he founded shortly after arriving from Spain in 1820. Rum sales grew until the U.S. passed the 18th Amendment in 1920, and during prohibition they got by making denatured alcohol and Bay Rum. With the repeal of prohibition, the family launched the Don Q brand in 1934, naming it after the most famous character in Spanish literature, Don Quixote of La Mancha.
In 1981, Felix Serrallés took the helm. Under his leadership, Don Q was re-launched in the U.S. mainland, and the company made major strides in sustainability. With the guidance of Environmental Science PhD and sixth generation rum maker Roberto Serrallés, the company installed a CO2 capture and reclaim system, and an anaerobic digestion system that turns the distillery’s waste into biogas that generates 50% of the facility’s power.
In 2015, Serrallés celebrated its 150th anniversary, and the company commemorated it with a special rum selected from the family reserves. That 20-year-old offering was limited to 1865 bottles priced at $1865 per bottle. Far too rich for my blood, I was not able to procure a bottle, but I was lucky enough to taste it with Roberto and members of the Serrrales USA team. It was in a word: sublime.
The 150th Anniversary release was followed by Don Q’s first ever single barrel offering, which was distilled in 2005 and aged for ten plus years in ex-Bourbon barrels. “Single Barrel” means this rum was not blended, but bottled from individual barrels, so there may be some minor variations from bottle to bottle. This new 40% ABV signature release is limited to 4,000, six-bottle cases, and for $40 each, I bought two of them at retail. Let’s take a closer look…
Don Q 2005 is contained by a bottle unlike any other marque in their lineup. Short with just enough neck to form a secure grip, the labels are small and purpose-built to let the rum do the talking. The closure is comprised of a natural cork stopper capped with a wooden top. Inset atop the wood is a cast metal disc bearing a raised silhouette of Don Quixote and “Since 1865”.
In the glass, the rum bears a golden hue that suggests no added color. On the nose, there is a bit more astringency than one might expect at 40%, but it quickly fades with some swirling. The aromas are likely to defy your expectations of a typical Puerto Rican aged rum—bright fruit notes leap forth from the glass, led by pear and green apple. The bright fruits give way to ripe banana and then caramel, vanilla, and crème brulee. Soon after is a hint of spice, principally nutmeg.
As the rum enters, the bright fruit notes are carried on a mildly astringent wave that engages the entire palate. Most noticeable are the oaky tannins that coat the sides of the tongue and mid-palate as well as the front of the upper palate. Once attuned to the spirit, the fruit flavors again make themselves known, with ripe dark cherries now joining the pear and apple. Beyond the fruit, the charred oak provides a strong foundation upon which the bright flavors rest. And between the oak and the fruit, the caramel and crème brulee once again emerge, followed by a hint of nutmeg and cardamom. As the flavors fade on the long finish, the fruit goes first, followed by the cream, and the oak lingers a spell before a graceful exit.
An impressive offering that makes me excited for the next signature release in 2017.