Don Q

Don Q
Destilería Serrallés
Type Private
Industry Distilled beverages
Founded Ponce, Puerto Rico (1865)
Key people Felix Juan Serralles, Jr. President and CEO
Products Rum
Website and

Don Q is a Puerto Rican rum, distilled, manufactured, bottled, and distributed by Destilería Serrallés from its corporate facility in Ponce, Puerto Rico. Don Q is the top-selling rum in Puerto Rico, where over 70% of the rum consumed in the United States is produced.[1] The rum is named after Don Quixote,[2] the protagonist in Miguel Cervantes' classic Spanish novel.[3] The rum is sold internationally, competing against Bacardi for market share.



The Serrallés family was a Spanish family from Cataluña that migrated to Puerto Rico in the mid 1830s, and established a sugar cane plantation in the outskirts of Ponce. They were successful in harvesting and refining cane sugar and exporting it to the United States, the United Kingdom and France. The plantation became very prosperous, and virtually became a company town, with its own rail line, workers' housing, transportation fleet, commissary, and private -- later public -- airport (Ponce's Mercedita Airport). Most of these operations were eventually annexed to the municipality of Ponce, in whose lands the plantation is based.[4]

In 1865, the family opened a rum manufacturer at the plantation, "Hacienda Mercedita". On that year, Juan Serrallés, who would go down as one of the most successful liquor salesmen in Puerto Rican history, imported a still from France, which enabled him to produce his first casks of rum.[5]

The Serrallés operation produced various local rum brands, most of which were short-lived. Inspired by the success of other rum producers in the island, the family decided to launch a refined brand with the intention of exporting it elsewhere. The Don Q brand was launched in 1932, and became popular with locals who considered rival Bacardi either harsher in taste or a foreign brand (when Bacardí opened its distilling operations in Puerto Rico in the early 1930s it was considered a Cuban brand since its headquarters were based in Cuba; since the 1960s Cuban revolution, Bacardi has had its headquarters in Bermuda). Don Q is considered Puerto Rico's finest rum.[6]

By the 1960s, Don Q was available on most of Puerto Rico's important supermarket chains, such as Pueblo and others. It also became available at Amigo.[7]

Distillation process

Don Q is distilled from sugar cane. The combination of the type of yeasts employed for fermentation, distillation method, aging conditions, and blending determines the characteristic flavor of rum. Made with molasses, water, mash, and yeast, Don Q is distilled in a continuous still. Once distilled, the clear spirit is aged in oak barrels for up to a year per Puerto Rican law, adding a golden color and character to the rum. Flavors and spices, if any, are added as an option at this point. The brand’s taste is achieved through a proprietary recipe, which is blended into the rum mixture at the final stages of production.[8]

Advertising and sales

Currently, Don Q is sold in the United States, Mexico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Spain, and a number of other countries.[9][10]

Don Q is the best-selling rum in Puerto Rico, followed by Bacardi and Palo Viejo. Other brands include Ron Castillo and Captain Morgan. The Captain Morgan Rum brand is owned by a different company but made by Destilería Serrallés at destillery facility in Puerto Rico under a supply contract with Seagrams, now Diageo.[11]

Destileria Serrallés has been engaged in numerous advertising campaigns for its rums.[12] Television ads have run on Puerto Rican channels for decades, and the brand has sponsored local sports teams, such as Ponce's Leones de Ponce baseball team and their BSN counterpart the Leones de Ponce basketball team. The Serrallés distillery is also involved in the Copa Serrallés boat race, where Don Q is prominently advertised. Don Q also has appeared on a number of films. Small sample bottles of the Don Q are available at supermarkets, pharmacies, and liquor stores.[13]

International awards and recognitions

Despite focusing on the middle and lower end of the price spectrum, five of seven Don Q offerings have achieved a modicum of success at international spirit ratings competitions. For example, its Don Q Gran Añejo rum earned multiple gold medals at the 2008 and 2009 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.[14]

Also, in 2010, Don Q scored high at the Spirits International Prestige (SIP) Awards, in San Diego, California. Compeating against hundreds of rums from around the globe, Don Q Añejo, Don Q Gran Añejo, Don Q Cristal, Don Q Coco, Don Q Mojito y Don Q Limón were awarded rankings in the “Platinum-Best in Class” and “Gold” categories. In this competition, according to Alberto "Tito" Torruella Bartolomei, Don Q's VP for Manufacturing, all of the Don Q products brought to the competition received awards. Unlike other awards, the SIP Awards select consumers for judges. "It is not the first time that Destilería Serrallés receives an international award. In a recent competition in Las Vegas, Nevada, Don Q Cristal received the top award within the category “Best Mojito”. Don Q Oro also received an award.[15]

In September 2011, the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences awarded Don Q Gran Añejo a five-star rating, something they "don't award to just any rum...In fact they found only one worthy enough of this honor: DonQ Gran Añejo...Gran Añejo is the first rum ever to receive this rare distinction, reserved for the greatest achievements in travel, hospitality products and services. The American Academy of Hospitality Sciences Board of Trustees recognized in Destilería Serrallés for DonQ Gran Añejo exceptional quality and character.[16]


Don Q has been produced in a number of different types, some of the most prominent being:[17]

  • Don Q Cristal
  • Don Q Limón (Lime Flavored Rum)
  • Don Q Pasión (Passion Fruit Flavored Rum)
  • Don Q Coco (Coconut Flavored Rum)
  • Don Q Mojito (Lime & Mint Flavored Rum)
  • Don Q Gold
  • Don Q 151 (discontinued in late 2009-early 2010)
  • Don Q Añejo
  • Don Q Gran Añejo


  1. ^ DonQ awarded 5 stars.Puerto Rico Daily Sun. San Juan, Puerto Rico. 15 September 2011. Retrieved 19 October 2011.
  2. ^ Museo/Exposición/Galería de arte Don Q. Retrieved 2 October 2011.
  3. ^ Ministry of Rum
  4. ^ Destileria Serralles History
  5. ^ Rum: The Epic Story of the Drink That Conquered the World. By Charles A. Coulombe.
  6. ^ El Boricua Puerto Rican Recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom
  7. ^ Don Q at Pueblo Supermarkets
  8. ^ 2003 Industrial Symbiosis in Rum Production. By International Society for Industrial Ecology. Page 3.
  9. ^ Serrallés USA Joins Forces With Powerhouse Glazer Distributors
  10. ^ Mexico
  11. ^ Favorite rum in the Land of Rums
  12. ^ Sample DonQ advertising Retrieved January 16, 2010.
  13. ^ Don Q Rum Promotions
  14. ^ " Website". Retrieved 2010-08-11. 
  15. ^ Carmen Cila Rodríguez. Arrasa otra vez la Destilería Serrallés. Periodico La Perla. Section "Gente." Retrieved August 11, 2010.
  16. ^ DonQ awarded 5 stars.Puerto Rico Daily Sun. San Juan, Puerto Rico. 15 September 2011. Retrieved 19 October 2011.
  17. ^ Don Q Types

See also

External links

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