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Meet Liza Cordero, the Master Blender of Puerto Rico’s No. 1 Rum

Liza Cordero DOn Q master blender

Don Q’s expert on the Boricua roots and craftsmanship of the island’s top spirit

Liza Cordero is master blender of Don Q. Her craftsmanship, values and passion help guide the family-owned distillery led by six generations of rum makers. Don Q rums range in notes from the rare, limited edition, ultra-premium rums like La Reserva de la Familia; to the warm and smoky oak finish of the Gran Reserva XO; to the smooth, clean taste of the award-winning Don Q Cristal.

And of course, Don Q gold, used in these two recipes for the piña colada, Puerto RIco’s official national cocktail. Check out DOn Q’s recipes for the cocktail — in two delicioso versions: classic and skinny.

Q: How does Don Q’s production in Puerto Rico contribute to its unique flavor profile, starting with using local sugar cane and water from Ponce’s Rio Inabón, which flows through the island’s volcanic areas?
A: Every distillery has its own process, its own distinction. However, Destilería Serrallés is incomparable and unique. Our roots go all the way back to 1865. Our rum was born here, in Ponce, Puerto Rico. We have grown as a company, but we still are in the same area of Puerto Rico. This is our home. We have used local resources in our manufacturing,  like local water, which has this special and pure taste that imparts a special touch to Don Q rums that no other rum can replicate. Our right to use this water source dates back to the days when Puerto Rico was a territory of Spain. Besides our resources, all the people who work here feel extremely proud to be part of history. We are loyal to our roots and happy that our rum is known all around the world. This is what being Puerto Rican is all about: Adding our special touch to everything that we do, so people get to know our culture.  

Q: How does the work you do as master blender and Don Q’s famously exacting production standards contribute to its enduring popularity and success?  
A: Being the master blender at Destilería Serrallés, besides making my life complete, comes with a great deal of responsibility. Our mission is to always remain innovative and produce a variety of rums for all palates. This is possible thanks to our approach to blending, the excellent quality in our rums, having in place the most rigorous quality standards, and knowing very well what regulations apply to everything that we do. This is how we help set the guidelines and best practices within the industry.  

Don Q

Every time we craft a new rum expression, we need to select carefully which aged rums to use. Their character, taste and aroma are essential in creating its personality. We also have to ensure that our rums honor our history, the Serrallés family legacy, and represent our Puerto Rican culture. All of these characteristics go hand-in-hand with the technical data that confirms that the quality of our rums aligns to the standards. Our success is the result of having a product that exhibits the perfect balance between every aspect that must be considered. And for me, as a master blender, perfection is a must. 

Q: The piña colada was invented in Puerto Rico by a wise and wonderful bartender, Monchito Marrero, who used Don Q Gold. As an expert in rum, what can you tell us about the history of this cocktail that rum lovers might not know?

A: The piña colada has been the most popular cocktail worldwide since its creation in 1954. In Puerto Rico, the government has even named it the national drink. There is also a document prepared by Marrero stating that piña colada is his creation and also mentions the following: “Toward the objective of promoting and associating the ’piña colada‘ created by the writer; Mr. Ramon Marrero, with Don Q Gold Puerto Rican Rum by Destilería Serrallés Inc. I transfer all the copyrights to the said company in enabling its use accordingly.” 

Due to its popularity, its history is very well known and is part of every mixologist’s conversation. The first thing to learn when making an authentic piña colada is to make it with Don Q Gold. It’s like a standard operating procedure! 

Is no surprise that the rum used for this cocktail is the Gold expression. This is a very well-balanced, aged rum (a blend aged between 1 and 5 years) that imparts its rum character and oak notes to this citrus and sweet cocktail, without leaving a heavy and astringent note at the end. It allows you to experience a perfectly aged rum, but without being overpowering. 

Q: Don Q is respected for its early adoption of an environmentally forward distillation and production process. What are some highlights of this process and tell us why they matter? 

A: At Serrallés, we recognize the importance of having an eco-conscious operation. The rum industry relies on nature and the environment, so we need to respect our natural primary ingredients. For example, molasses, our raw material, depends on the environment and how it has been impacted over the years. 

Don Q plant
The Serrallés plant is located in Ponce, Puerto Rico, and is deeply connected to the local climate, river and environment.

Because we have a commitment to positively impact the environment and we understand our role in protecting the environment as a company, we have worked to reduce the usage of fossil fuel in our utilities by means of alcohol burning and LPG at our boilers. We have been able to reduce the greenhouse gases by installing solar panels that supply almost 40% of our electrical consumption. Our distillation process is a state-of-the-art energy efficient one that allows us to use the heat generated throughout the process to preheat other streams. That means less energy consumption per proof gallon produced. Also, our effluent is biologically treated in our anaerobic and aerobic digestors prior to discharging to the irrigation site. Currently, we are working on several efforts for recycling a vast number of water effluents to the very front end of our water-processing plant. This will reduce the raw water usage in our process, which will help us protect our natural water source coming from the Inabón River. 

Q: What are 3 things most people don’t know or misunderstand about rum? 

A: 1. Rum has sugar. 2. The rum industry is not being regulated. 3. There is only white and dark rum.

Q: What is your favorite way to saborear Don Q?

A: In cocktails with Don Q Reserva 7. However, I always ask mixologists to make me a unique cocktail with Don Q. Each one I have enjoyed over the years has a great story and has been an excellent experience. 

Don Q distillery entrance

Q: As a Puerto Rican, how does it make you feel to be working on one of the island’s most iconic products, so foundational to the island’s history?

A: There are never enough beautiful words to describe how I feel working for Don Q Rum and Destilería Serrallés. 

For me as a Puerto Rican, it is important to give back to my island. And what could be better than working for the best and most important distillery in Puerto Rico? I feel so proud to be part of a company that every day introduces Puerto Rico to the world. I love having such an important role in Don Q’s elaboration and having the responsibility to present to people what my island is all about. Our rum is a result of extreme commitment, loyalty to our roots and history, and indescribable passion. In every blend that is made, in every rum that we present to our customers, we honor our culture, values, beliefs, Latino heritage, and traditions.

All of this is Don Q, the authentic Puerto Rican Rum, born in Ponce, Puerto Rico! Twenty years have already passed since I started working for Serrallés, and I have enjoyed every single day. I am hoping for many more to come in which I will contribute to making the best rum there is: Don Q! 

Q: What’s next for Don Q rums and the work you are doing with this legendary Boricua spirit? 

A: Our plan is to continue crafting the best and most recognized premium rum brands. We like innovating every blend — and believe me, we are working tirelessly on some interesting surprises. As always, expect the best from Don Q rums. ¡El auténtico ron de Puerto Rico!

Enter to Win a Puerto Rico Food & Rum Trip for 2!

We’re honored and excited to invite you to enter our sweepstakes Puerto Rico Food & Rum Experience Prize Trip for two people! How would you like to win a delicioso experience for two to attend a Chef’s Dinner Table “GUSTO!” dinner series event in New York City in early October 2023, starring one of Puerto Rico’s best chefs? The prize trip includes dinner for two, a special Don Q rum tasting, and one night’s stay at a luxury hotel. Enter for your chance to win today. Enter to win here!

Puerto Rico sweepstakes prize trip
Enter to win a trip to a Puerto Rican food and rum experience in New York City for two people!

Find recipes and inspiration for adding rum to your cocktails with that authentic Boricua sabor at

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