Interview With Roberto Serrallés About 150 Years of Rum Making

Serrallés and its Don Q Rum brand both celebrated their 150th anniversaries in 2015. To mark the occasion, sixth-generation rum maker Roberto Serrallés (pictured above) created Reserva de la Familia Serrallés, a 20-year-old rum with a $1,865 price tag, which matches the year Destilería Serrallées first produced rum. I recently spoke to him about the milestone and the new product.

BD: How did Reserva de la Familia Serrallés come about?

RS: We wanted to do something special. Because of aging losses, a 20-year-old, single-barrel rum aged in the
tropics is as rare as it gets. We had 36 charred American White Oak barrels from 1994, and we chose the top six. We were not only looking for quality of age, but also mellowness, notes of wood, and something that reminded us of molasses.

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Reserva de la Familia Serrallés, a 20-year-old rum.

BD: Why the detailed, artistic packaging?

RS: We worked with a company called Nouvel Studio, in Mexico. They do premium bottles. The artists designed the bottle to covey a story. And that story starts on a ship, with the bottle resembling the sail of a tall ship. And the top of the cap resembles Don Quixote.

Those are the motifs, and at the end of the day it’s just beautiful. We looked at about ten designs before deciding upon this one. And the box it comes in is like a trunk – something in which you put a family heirloom or treasure.

BD: Who is the intended consumer?

RS: The price point does kind of establish the consumer. Unfortunately, it limits the number of folks who can enjoy it. This is for the person who’s looking for something absolutely unique. This is a piece of history. It’s a testament to our doing things the right way for 150 years, of pursuing our passions.

BD: What aspects of rum making have carried forward over all those years?

RS: We’ve been using the same yeast since Prohibition. We’ve been using the same source of water since day one. It’s surface water from the volcanic mountains to the north of us.

The aging and blending of our rum is the artistic side of things, and we do those the same way as we always have. That knowledge has been passed down through the years as tradition.

And we have the same exacting standards. Before a drop of Don Q hits a bottle, it goes past our master blender. He noses the rum. If he doesn’t like it, then it doesn’t go through. We’ve carried that same attention to detail forward, which really defines our products.

We don’t add sugar for the sake of adding sugar. We don’t add coloring, either. We make honest rums, and our customers have always liked them.

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