It’s hard to say precisely when cask finishing began in the rum world.
Sure, over the years there were rums like Dos Maderas, which took Caribbean rum and then aged it for years in sherry casks.
Then there was HSE, the Martinique-based rhum producer that is now the leader in the rum world, globally, when it comes to finishing, with an agricole expression finished in just about every kind of cask you can think of, from sherry to whisky to sauternes. (HSE has also become the world’s most innovative rum distillery when it comes to barrel aging in general).
It’s all helped take rum to new heights, and underscore the importance of barrel aging generally, such as the way different kinds of oak can totally change the raw spirit.
More and more companies are now diversifying their aging and finishing, and they’re helping to raise the profile of rum in part by showing its remarkable flexibility as a spirit.
The result is that cask finishing is likely here to stay — so it was nice to see another major player recently entered the space.
That was Puerto Rico’s Don Q, which recently debuted its first official cask-finished rum: Don Q Vermouth Cask Finish, which Rum Journal obtained on a recent stop in Puerto Rico.
So what’s it like?
The aroma is unsurprisingly sweet, with notes of white wine, brown sugar, a hint of tropical fruit, spice and more subtle elements of the classic Don Q nutty-vanilla aroma.
The flavor profile begins with an initial note of oak that opens up into hints of almond, pepper, nutmeg and only a small whisper of the dessert wine notes that appeared on the nose.
This is a light-bodied rum with a satisfying soft finish that eventually hints at some sweetness and even a little spice. It’s not what you expect when you first encounter the aroma — and it doesn’t have a heavy vermouth note, happily.
Yes, it’s a Don Q, and yes, it has those quintessential notes that most Puerto Rican rums share — but it’s got a different personality, a different identity, the lightness joined by a kind of elegant personality.
It’s something new.
And we always like that.
Rum Journal Review: 89 Points