Don Q holds exclusive rights to a river in Puerto Rico
Sort of like how some people say New York City’s pizza is the greatest thanks to its water, there may be a secret to Don Q rum, too: the Río Inabón. It’s a 20-mile river that runs from the volcanic mountains toward Ponce, and has served as the sole water source for the brand’s distillery since its beginning. A provision in the Treaty of Paris (the 1898 one, that ended the Spanish-American War) even guaranteed the Serrallés family exclusive rights to the Río Inabón, ensuring its water supply will remain unchanged. (Bet you didn’t learn that in history class.)
So what does a river have to do with making rum? Here’s an easy way to sound smart at your next cocktail party: Don Q’s process starts by diluting molasses with water (there’s that Río Inabón, again). The mixture is then combined with a proprietary yeast to ferment into a “molasses beer,” which is distilled in a five-column still, and voilà: the beginnings of rum. Once distilled, each rum gets aged in American white oak barrels for anywhere from three years (Spiced), to nine years (Single Barrel, 2007), and up to 12 years for the Gran Añejo (which gets blended with older rums using the Solera aging system). Even the flavored varieties get aged for at least a year, and are made with natural ingredients like fresh mint and passion fruit (no additives or artificial colorings here, thanks).