I’ve had far too few Puerto Rican rums but things will be changing this week, I’ve got a nice set of rums to taste from Don Q. Our first review, the Cristal, is a silver/white rum with a perfectly clear coloring. It’s amazing to see a rum that is between one and three years old be so crystal clear, apparently we know where it gets the name “cristal.”
Of course, you can mix this spirit into a cocktail, as we will do on Common Man Cocktails but today I’m taste testing this on the rocks (with ice) and neat (room temperature). The nose of the Cristal is very entertaining after you get through the initial sniff of fairly potent ethanol. Once my nose adapted to that attack of the senses it brought along with it a bit of warm butterscotch and a lightly scented chocolate. I caught a bit of pineapple core on the tail end of the nose, not exactly a strong pineapple skin or ripe fruit but a subtle flavoring that required deep examining. On ice I found the scents to be more swayed towards stronger pineapple and a milk chocolate profile.
The taste is even more complex than the bouquet, bringing a pineapple attack on the tip of the tongue with a chocolate and butter mid-palate transition into a butterscotch finish. There is a bit of a mid-palate alcoholic “heat” but it lasts a short period of time and has no offensive flavors; the alcohol is more of a warming sensation than a burn. The viscosity of this silver rum is amazing, it’s so smooth and silky on the tongue, much like the Tommy Bahama White Sands Rum.
The Don Q Cristal costs USD $15.99 which is about six dollars more than some of the mass market rums which only bring a burning sensation of rough alcohols. The additional $6 price seems to bring a well crafted smooth experience in a crystal clear liquid. Creating a clear product out of an aged complex rum is a difficult and expensive process and Don Q has taken care to do what was needed to bring the presentation to the same quality as the liquid itself.
On ice, I find more burn in the finish with muted flavors of chocolate on the initial attack but with a sweet buttery finish. I found the texture to be a bit weaker and thinner when the water begins to melt off into the chilly Don Q Cristal.
Overall, I believe the Don Q Cristal works best served neat or in a cocktail. The nuances and complexities of this spirit are well defined in a product for under USD $20. You’ll struggle to find a comparable product of such quality with such affordability, and in these economic times, there are many places in our cabinets for well crafted affordable rums.