My wandering eye is a series reacting to the crazy rising prices in the bourbon world. We’ve reached a place where even average products have hit the range where they compete price-wise with other types of aged spirits. If I’m going be asked to drop $40 to $70 on a mid-range bourbon, I might as well see what else I can get for that money. See if another spirits category offers something that is downright tasty in that price range. The goal isn’t to find cheap spirits, but to maximize the quality, I’m getting at a particular price point.
Last week I was on my first Carribean cruise. One of the stops was Puerto Rico. Having realized through this series that I enjoy rum, even if I don't know much about it yet, I made sure that a couple of bottles of the spirit came home with me. When in Rome and all that.
I don't know a lot about what to look for in a Rum. I haven't spent enough time to learn more than the basics. But I planned ahead and loaded my friend Fred Minnick's book Rum Curious on my Kindle before I left. I may not have tasted a lot of Rum, but I know he did, and he recorded what he learned in that book, so it made an excellent place to start.
I spent most of my short visit in San Juan visiting the old Forts, but on my way back to the ship I made sure to stop off at the duty-free store so that I could see what they had. My mother-in-law had given me an ultimatum that she wanted to buy me a bottle of Rum for Christmas while we were on the cruise and had given me a $50 limit. Luckily, for Rum that seemed to be a pretty generous limit. I ended up settling on the Don Q Gran Añejo, mostly because Fred said it was good, the bottle said it was 9-12 years old, and it was exactly $50.
Now I knew nothing about the Don Q brand when I picked it off the shelf. But after visiting their website for a little bit, I realized that they seem to be fairly forthcoming with their information. The company that produces the brand (Destilería Serrallés, Inc.) dates back to the early to mid-1800s and the sugar plantations that were on the island. They started producing Rum in the 1860s. They use water from the Río Inabón as their exclusive water source and their distillery is located outside of Ponce, Puerto Rico. They do their best to be environmentally friendly in their processes. The Don Q brand itself was launched after the end of Prohibition and was named after Don Quixote. Though they don't get into a lot of the data points of production (for instance, Fred Minnick reports that the off the still proof of their Rums are 94.5% ABV which is not on their website), I did enjoy making my way through all the information that they do provide.
Don Q Gran Añejo
Purchase Info: $50 for a 750 mL bottle at the Duty-Free Store in the San Juan Cruise Port, San Juan, Puerto Rico. (Available locally for $59.99 at Total Wine, Burnsville, MN.)
Details: 40% ABV. Blended from rums between 9 and 12 years old.
Nose: Brown Sugar, vanilla bean ice cream, cola.
Mouth: Soft mouthfeel with vanilla bean ice cream, caramel and a hint of spice.
Finish: Gentle burn with lingering caramel, baking spice, root beer and a hint of menthol after it is all done.
Thoughts: This is a tasty drink whether you are having it in a glass with a little ice or in an Old Fashioned. It is sweet with just enough spice and menthol to keep it interesting. It's certainly one I hope to pick up again.
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