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.
Subscribe to Difford's Guide and start receiving our regular updates on cocktails, booze and bars. For a limited time you will also receive a copy of Simon Difford's Top 40 Cocktails delivered straight to your inbox!