Originally from Cataluña, Spain, the Serrallés family migrated to Puerto Rico in the mid 1830s where they established a sugar cane plantation in the outskirts of Ponce. They became very prosperous by exporting cane sugar to the USA, UK and France and their plantation grew to become a virtual town with its own railway, workers' housing and private airport. (Which became Ponce's Mercedita public Airport).
In 1865, Juan Serrallés imported a still from France and started producing rum on the estate, called the new distillery ‘Hacienda Mercedita’. The Don Q brand was launched in 1932 and quickly became popular with native Puerto Ricans who considered rival Bacardi to a foreign brand as it had recently moved to the island from Cuba. Many Puerto Ricans still consider Don Q the local brand and Bacardi a multinational brand.
Until 2011, some 70% of the total production of Destileria Serralles went to make Diageo’s Captain Morgan run but Diageo shifted production to the US Virgin Islands due to the authorities there passing on a large proportion of the rebates received from excise tax on rum sales in the US.