The Serrallés family has been producing rum in Puerto Rico since family patriarch Don Serrallés imported a copper still from France and made his first batch in 1865. Almost 150 years later, the Serrallés family continues to produce the Don Q line of rums at their family distillery, Destilería Serrallés.
Recently, sixth-generation rum maker Robert Serrallés and his business partner Rande Gerber launched a new premium white rum, Caliche, which uses a three-layer cask solera system and combines 3-, 4- and 5-year aged rums. (TheRumelier has a great explanation of solera aging half way down this page. Think of it as a multi-layered approach to blending.)
I tracked down Robert Serrallés to learn a little more about his new rum and how the perception of rum is changing in the market place.
It seems rum is trending well. Twenty years ago rum was only used to make daiquiris and punch. Now there's a bevy of options, from sipping rums to different flavors. What's driving the change? I believe consumers who are getting interested in cocktails find in rum a great and noble spirit due to its mixability and elegance. Rum as a category is getting more respect as people become more familiar with how rum is made, with the varied styles of rum made in different regions of the Caribbean and with the passion and dedication which small family producers like ourselves put into our rum Brands. It's exciting times for rum.
The Serrallés family has a large portfolio of rums with the Don Q line. What makes Caliche different? Caliche is our expression of what a super premium white rum should be; so smooth it can be consumed on the rocks but with enough rummy notes and body that it works great in any traditional rum cocktail. It's a blend of aged rums up to 5 years old as well as a bit of Solera aged rum which gives it a great deal of character and depth. Caliche is different than our DonQ Cristal only in that its blends include older aged rum inventories. But to be clear, our entire line of rums, from DonQ to Caliche, are made using rums aged at least one year, which qualifies them as Puerto Rican rum, under local Puerto Rican regulations.
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You've been aging part of this rum for five years now. How does it feel to finally get it to market? Getting Caliche to market has been a true and complete labor of love. The process of developing the right blend took us about three years alone. The development of the package took us well over a year. But in both cases we never took a short cut, my partner Rande Gerber and I never accepted anything less than perfection. We are ready to upgrade the rum category.
Caliche rum is "treated with a special charcoal blend to remove the color build up during aging." Why remove the color? The reason to remove the color was to make the product truly versatile. The real challenge was how to remove color without removing all the wonderful rummy flavors. So, while a few have tried to develop a super premium white rum, we believe we have created a truly special super premium white rum that is wonderful in cocktails and delectable on the rocks.
Your family is obviously steeped in rum. How important to you has it been to develop your own rum? As a sixth-generation rum maker, rum runs in my blood. I am very passionate about all things that have to do with rum. This project is one of my proudest accomplishments to date, and I hope it helps lift the rum category to the place it surely deserves.
Caliche is available in liquor stores around Dallas.