Meet Jaiker Soto, Who’s Innovating Rum For Modern Palates

Jaiker Soto is the creative mind behind some of the more innovative premium rums made today. As master blender at Destileria Serralles, makers of Don Q, he oversees production of a wide variety of rums at the Puerto Rico company — many which push the boundaries of the category.

Including the new Don Q Vermouth Cask Finish. We recently spoke to Soto about this new product, as well as the overall modern craft rum industry, what consumers want from it, and how rum can appeal to whiskey connoisseurs.

Kyle Swartz: Why finish a rum in vermouth casks?
Jaiker Soto: When the magic of the aging process is happening inside the American white oak barrel, your rum is going to adquire a smooth body and mouthfeel, creating a balance between sweet and dry flavors that you won’t get in other spirits. With resting time in Vermouth casks, you can enhance the rum profile with a delightful bouquet of this special European spirit during the second stage of resting, developing botanical characteristics, spiced notes with anise ending, toasted memories, and fresh grass and tea.

This is like a connection between cultures, our roots in the old continent, an international bridge of melding classic flavors as homage to the masters.

KS: What delicate work into finishing a rum in a different cask?
JS: Finishing a rum in a special cask requires the work of sampling, with sensory and physical-chemical evaluation throughout the process, to determine the cask’s influence on the final profile of the rum and the rum’s overall evolution.

KS: Are we going to see more cask finishes in the rum category?
JS: Yes, we have in our pipeline the development of three new cask finish expressions. These blends are resting in the special casks right now, and we’re sampling and evaluating their evolution month by month. 

KS: Do consumers expect more creativity from the rum category?
JS: Yes, definitely. Today we have more educated consumers with a lot of desire to learn more and more about distilled spirits. In our case, with the rum, we are introducing new techniques such as single-barrel rums, new casks and finishes such as Vermouth, and other new expressions that are in development. We are aiming towards the introduction of premium rums to a market that shows a trend in consumption of rums with quality, as defined by process and the higher-quality liquids.

KS: Why should a whiskey connoisseur check out rum?
JS: Rum is gaining reputation day-by-day, and as producers of quality rums we should aim to raise the level of the category. Our goal is to conquer the whiskey consumer’s palate. Our rums follow a unique production process that defines them as an aged premium spirit. We distill like a bourbon using a column still that was purchased from Kentucky to meet consumer demand for rum. Also we age like a whiskey in used ex-whiskey barrels. The only difference is the raw material: we produce our rums from the sugar cane molasses.

Kyle Swartz is managing editor of Cheers magazine. Reach him at kswartz@epgmediallc.com or on Twitter @kswartzz. Read his recent piece The Journey of Clown Shoes From Contract Brewer to Corporate Partner.

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