Those that know me know, that I don’t normally write about spirits, and prefer to stick to wines…. But my vacation destination this year was beautiful San Juan in Puerto Rico and I thought it would be a great idea to drop by Casa Bacardí to learn more about their famous and award winning rums.
Casa Bacardí, known as “the Cathedral of Rum” see picture below, is located in Cataño, overlooking the Atlantic sea and the San Felipe del Morro Fortress, a historic Spanish colonial must see, if you ever come to town.
I started the tour with a welcome drink of Mojito, and a visit via trolley of all Bacardí installations, where I was told they process 85% of all their rum sold worldwide.
Bacardi Limited is a privately held (family) company founded by Don Facundo Bacardí Massó in 1862, in Santiago de Cuba. The story tells that, after buying a small distillery in Cuba, Facundo’s curiosity to create a smoother and finer rum, took him to experiment with different distillations, filtering and aging that paved the way to create a unique product: a clear and smooth spirit, that was drunk on its own but soon became the base of many Bacardí original drinks, such as the Cuba Libre, Daiquíri and Mojito.
History says that Facundo’s wife Amalia came with the idea of using the black bat we find in their logo, fruit bats were abundant around the distillery and were considered a symbol of prosperity, family unity and good fortune.
After Fidel Castro rose to power, and seized all Bacardí facilities, the family left Cuba and became exiles. But this didn't stop them, they opened facilities in Puerto Rico and Mexico, and continued to expand. Nowdays, Bacardí has offices around the world and sells its rums and spirits to more than 170 countries.
But how is the King of Rums (Bacardí) made?
All spirits are made by concentrating their alcohol via distillation. In some cases, the base used is wine (like in Cognac or Armagnac), but in the case of Bacardí, they ferment molasses (extracted from sugarcane) with specially selected yeasts that Don Facundo found in Santiago de Cuba.
The secret of all distillation is that alcohol evaporates at 78.5ºC or 173ºF, while water evaporates at higher temperatures of 100ºC or 212ºF, this will allow the separation of both in fractions, concentrating the alcohol.
In the case of Bacardí rum the first distillation is called “agua ardiente”, which is rich and flavorful and the backbone of all their rums. Then the process continues with 5 more distillations to get the “redestilado” which is the second and lighter part of the base. Both agua ardiente and redestilado are filtered with charcoal to remove impurities. The true art happens when the Master Blender comes in to create the ideal mix of both, the process is then completed by aging in American oak (used whisky) barrels to further mellow the spirits.
The Bacardi Portfolio available in the US, includes:
The Carta Range: Bacardí Silver (the best sold rum in the world), Bacardí Gold and Black. $15
Bacardí Añejo Cuatro: aged for 4 years. $21
Bacardí Reserva Ocho: aged for 8 years. $30
Bacardí Gran Reserva Diez: aged for 10 years. $40
Bacardí Gran Reserva Limitada, which I happened to taste during my visit, is a special Bacardí selection of fine rums aged for 16 years. $100
To complete the line, Bacardí also produces flavored rums, featuring coconut, lemon, raspberry, mango, etc.
Those interested in visiting Casa Bacardí, can find more info here.