Review: Don Q Vermouth Cask Finish

Destileria Serralles is a Puerto Rican rum distillery that produces rum since 1865. It all started in the 1820s when Juan Sebastian Seralles arrived in Ponce, Puerto Rico and established a sugar plantation. The first Serrales rum distillation used a pot still imported from France, but around 1890 column stills arrived in Puerto Rico which along with short fermentation and filtering gave their rums the distinct clean and light profile they have today.

In 1934 Distilleria Serralles launched the Don Q brand which is derived from Don Quijote – the main character in Miguel De Servantes Saavedra’s well known and apparently the Serrales’ favourite novel. Don Q is the leading rum on Puerto Rico’s domestic market which is quite impressive considering which other giant makes rum in Puerto Rico.

The rums coming out of Distilleria Serralles are a blend of light and heavy distillate. As expected the light component is predominant in most of the blends, but usually Don Q features rums with more body than most ‘Spanish-style’ rums, yet still on the light side compared with juice from the likes of Barbados and Jamaica – pair that with their “no additives” policy and there you go, great Puerto Rican rum.

They use a 40 hours short fermentation distilled in a multi-column still installed in 2007 for the light distillate and a 7-10 days long fermentation distilled in one of the columns of their 1934 setup.
Interestingly enough they also use small quantities of rums from their own (true) Solera system in their blends. More on this, their production and history in Matt Pietrek’s Don Q Deep Dive which helped me write this review.

Don Q Vermouth Cask Finish is the work of Master Blender Jaiker Soto. Molasses based, multi-column/column distilled and aged from 5 to 8 years in ex-Bourbon casks in Puerto Rico. The rum is then finished from 4 to 6 weeks in Mancino Vermouth Veccio casks (Italian sweet vermouth). Bottled at 40% ABV and free of any additions as far as I know.

On the nose it feels quite fruity and floral. Maraschino liqueur, honey, melon, apricot, almonds, pine tree, violets and rose petals. Cinnamon, bianco vermouth – which is interesting as this was finished in a sweet vermouth cask, drops of nail varnish, lemon zest, sweet cherries, white grapes and hints of sea salt. It’s an interesting flavour combination that I wouldn’t normally expect in a rum.

On the palate it’s very floral/botanical again. If I didn’t know I would’ve thought this is a Perfect Rum Manhattan with a touch of Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur. Almonds and roses petals again. A prominent dry/bianco vermouth, lemon and grapefruit zests, cardamom, hints of juniper and some cloves. I feel like the Mancino casks overpowered a bit the light character of the rum. Some vanilla and sea salt in the background. The finish is quite short with hints of menthol and salt.

Again, it feels like a bottled Manhattan, and while it doesn’t let the rum itself shine too much, it is more rummy than other Puerto Rican expressions. For £33 a bottle it’s not a bad choice if you want something a bit botanical but you’re not a fan of intense spiced rums. There’s also a Sherry cask finish from the same range that I heard good things about so I guess I should get one of them soon.

Don Q Vermouth Cask Finish score:
Flavour/taste: 46/70
Value for money: 14/15
Transparency/purity: 15/15
Overall: 75/100


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