Until recently I hadn't noticed Don Q. It's been in the States for awhile now but with the market throughly saturated by Bacardi's technicolor-rainbow its hard for a new-comer to get noticed; even a really good one. Actually, Don Q isn't really a new-comer. In fact, its a very old Puerto Rican brand that dates back to 1865, but it's only recently started to get any space on shelves in the States. Turns out that in Puerto Rico the mighty Bacardi is thought of as a foreign brand (since their headquarters are in Cuba) which has made Don Q the best-selling Rum in the land (1).
Ok, we all know what this one is up against: The Bacardi Silver juggernaut. Ok maybe that's a bit dramatic but let's face it: "is it better than Bacardi" is the only question people are going to ask when they see this. But, what can I say? Silver, Crystal, or whatever you want to call it, you're still only going to be using this rum for mixing cocktails (unless there is a strange clear-rum enthusiast club I don't know about). So how does it stack up against the Big B.S.? When tasted straight up I felt like it was hard to beat Bacardi, the same way it was hard for Sailor Jerry's to best Captain Morgan's spiced variety (even though I think it ultimately does). I know, I know, this is booze-nerd blasphemy, but stay with me, ok? Here's where I draw the line: When you want only a hint of rum, I.E. you want to make a drink that doesn't taste much like booze, use Bacardi. If you're looking for a light rum that will stand out more in your drink Don Q plays that role better.
B+ / $12 - $14
This one is really just ok in my opinion. Honestly, with the price-point being pretty close I'm not sure why they don't just market the Crystal and the Anejo and leave it at that. Not sure if anyone in power over at Don Q will read this...(and I haven't seen their sales-numbers), but based purely on taste I'd say scrap the Gold and work on pushing the Anejo. This is just my opinion, but I don't really have a place in my home-bar for a middle-aged Gold, especially when the Anejo works as both a solid base spirit for cocktails and a sipping rum.
B- / $12 -$14
Ok, you can tell I like this one. But here's why: When I tasted this one I had one of those rare booze-moments where your eyebrow shoots up on one side and you look down at what's in your glass and think, "where did that come from?" It tastes of sweet molasses or brown sugar and has obviously spent some time mellowing in a barrel. Its no slouch though, still has some kick, but it's also smooth enough to drink on it's own still and works great in the classic Rum and Coke. This is currently my favorite dark rum.
A / $20