The Serrallés family was a Spanish family from Cataluña that migrated to Puerto Rico in the mid 1830s, and established a sugar cane plantation in the outskirts of Ponce. They were successful in harvesting and refining cane sugar and exporting it to the United States, the United Kingdom and France. The plantation became very prosperous, and virtually became a company town, with its own rail line, workers' housing, transportation fleet, commissary, and private -- later public -- airport (Ponce's Mercedita Airport). Most of these operations were eventually annexed to the municipality of Ponce, in whose lands the plantation is based.In 1865, the family opened a rum manufacturer at the plantation, "Hacienda Mercedita". On that year, Juan Serrallés, who would go down as one of the most successful liquor salesmen in Puerto Rican history, imported a still from France, which enabled him to produce his first casks of rum.
The Serrallés operation produced various local rum brands, most of which were short-lived. Inspired by the success of other rum producers in the island, the family decided to launch a refined brand with the intention of exporting it elsewhere. The Don Q brand was launched in 1932, and became popular with locals who considered rival Bacardi either harsher in taste or a foreign brand (when Bacardí opened its distilling operations in Puerto Rico in the early 1930s it was considered a Cuban brand since its headquarters were based in Cuba; since the 1960s Cuban revolution, Bacardi has had its headquarters in Bermuda). Don Q is considered Puerto Rico's finest rum.By the 1960s, Don Q was available on most of Puerto Rico's important supermarket chains, such as Pueblo and others. It also became available at Amigo.