Earlier this year Destileria Serrales, producers of Don Q Rum in Puerto Rico, released what will be the first in a new line of single barrel vintage rums. This rum was distilled in 2005 and aged 10 years in used American oak bourbon barrels before being blended to 80 proof and bottled. The company is clear in stating that the rum is not blended with rums from other barrels staying true to the single barrel vintage statement. This does allow for some variances in flavor between the barrels but there is a core consistency in the vintage. They also stated that no color, sugar or other additives were used during production of this rum.
Everything about this product is a departure from the standard Don Q line. The standard 750ml bottle is replaced with a short handled bottle with small informative front and back labels that allows the golden amber liquid to shine through. The wooden cap holds a natural cork and has a metal embossed Don Quixote silhouette with the words “since1865” on it. When I swirled the liquid a thick band formed around the glass that quickly released equally thick fast moving legs. It took quite some time for the ring to bead up and evaporate.
The robust aroma of this rum greets you half way to the glass. Vanilla and mocha notes filled the air as they dissipated I detected sweet apple, banana, breadfruit with hints of smoky oak and leather.
The first sip enters with a swirl of crème brule and oak tannins that has a light astringency that forms the foundation of the experience. The apple and banana notes from the aroma come in and form the midline while dark Madagascar vanilla takes the high notes. Caramel and dark chocolate pop at the rum transitions toward the finish with notes of dried coconut, roasted almond, brown sugar and oak tannins uniting to form a lovely long finish.
Before reviewing this rum I had it on two other occasions in private sampling experiences along with other rums. It stood out and made a positive impression. This rum is very different from what we have come to expect from the Don Q brand. The only common denominator I found is that the core oak tannin notes remind me of those found in their Gran Añejo product. I enjoyed exploring the rum in an isolated environment as well as with a meal. The complexity of the product is something to be savored and enjoyed. I recommend trying it neat, with a cube of ice, or bit of water. I believe you will be pleased by what you discover.
I have always liked the idea of vintage rum products as it allows the Master Blender the opportunity to create something new outside the normal product line and give enthusiasts and collectors something to hunt and hopefully enjoy. Limited to four thousand bottles with allocations going to the United States, Puerto Rico and Europe, this is rum that should be purchased on sight as it will not be around long. Luckily there is a 2007 vintage scheduled for release in 2017. After my experience with this rum I have high expectations for their next vintage.