Friday Happy Hour: DonQ Grand Añejo & the Quest for Rum Perfection
Different people measure the greatness of different rums in different ways. For some, bold flavor is the key. For others, it’s a smooth finish. Still others place the greatest emphasis on the cane, distillation technique, and family bloodlines.
Me? I’m kind of partial to speed.
That is to say, the faster a particular bottle goes empty, the greater my impression of the rum.
By that measure, the squat bottle of sweetness pictured here is the best “new to me” rum I’ve tried so far this year. It’s called DonQ Grand Añejo, and it only lasted about a day-and-a-half around me over the June 11-12 weekend earlier this summer.
Yes, I did have a wee bit of help in making this stuff disappear so quickly, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t need it. Grand Añejo is just so good, so smooth and easy-drinking that each sip compels you take another… and another… and another!
As we mentioned in a previous post about another great Puerto Rican añejo, DonQ is a product of Destilería Serrallés, Inc., the #2 rum producer in La Isla del Encanto. Serrallés may not be the biggest, but to me their rums are certainly among the best, with Grand Añejo now my new favorite among their product line.
DonQ rums carry the trademark light flavor with no harsh aftertaste emblematic (and mandated by law) of all Puerto Rican rums, but there’s an added edge of quality and craftsmanship that sets them apart. The difference is born of the Serrallés family tradition of distillation that dates back to 1865 when Don Juan Serrallés imported a copper pot still from France and started producing rum amid the ideal tropical conditions along Puerto Rico’s southern coast.
From the 1860s through the early-1930s, the Serrallés family produced rum under its own name. Then, in 1934, the DonQ brand was born. The brand was named in honor of Don Quixote, but a name is not the only thing this rum shares in common with the famous literary character. From the DonQ website:
Just as Don Quixote represents the search for a perfect world, DonQ signifies the family’s quest for perfection in rum.
Now, I’m not saying they’ve achieved their quest 100% with Grand Añejo, but it’s definitely a big step in the right direction.
DonQ Grand Añejo is a blend of rums aged between three and 12 years in oak barrels formerly used to age bourbon. It was originally commissioned to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Columbus’ “discovery” of Puerto Rico in 1493, so you can imagine that the Serrallés family mined some of their best stash to produce it. They also went all-out on the bottle presentation, as you can see above, though the real beauty is what lies inside.
What I like best about it is its balance. Taken neat, it’s not too dry, harsh or sweet. Grand Añejo goes down nice and smooth all the way through to the finish, which doesn’t stay with you too long either. It’s just clean, and with a few rocks, refreshing.
Mix if you must (here’s a good recipe), but I’ll take my Grand Añejo just the way it is… again and again and again.