"The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in
its net of wonder forever."—Jacques Cousteau

February 18, 2020

Feb. 17 - (Part I) Bacardi Rum Factory

"Drinking rum before 10am makes you a pirate, not an alcoholic." -Unknown 
Our time in Puerto Rico is coming to an end...today we move to Old San Juan, so we will be closer to the airport. We have a condo rented for the next three days, but we couldn't check in until late in the afternoon, so we decided to spend a little time at the Bacardi Rum Factory. Puerto Rico is called the "rum capital of the world". Over 70 percent of the rum sold in the U.S. comes from Puerto Rico.

The spirit is also a big part of the island's history. Juan Ponce de León first brought Creole sugar cane rootstocks from the Dominican Republic in 1506. Eleven years later, the first sugar mill was established and rum production began in the 1650s.

During the tour of the Bacardi Rum Factory we learned that it was founded by Spanish born Facundo Bacardí Massó, whose family immigrated to Cuba when he was 16. The family bought a distillery in Santiago de Cuba in 1862. They threw away the rule book and made their own unique blends with a revolutionary rum-making process that would change the way rum was made forever. 

Before Bacardi, rum was made cheaply and was not considered to be a desirable drink. They were the first to filter rum through charcoal to remove impurities before and after it is aged in oak barrels, resulting in the first clear, or “white,” rum in the world.

When Fidel Castro’s Cuban Revolution took hold of the island in the 1960s, Bacardi managed to hide its proprietary formula, trademark and assets in the Bahamas. Eventually, it moved its operation to Puerto Rico. Eighty five percent of all Bacardi Rum is distilled in Puerto Rico, but it is bottled and distributed from Jacksonville, Florida. Bacardi is now one of the most recognized and highly consumed rums worldwide. Varieties range from its original white to smooth and mellow gold.

The tour showed us around the grounds of the distillery, gave us history of the family and the company and took us through a replica of the first factory.
This is a replica of the bar that was in the Havana Club in Cuba in the 1930s. It was a very popular place for American's to go during prohibition. It was the only bar in Cuba that had ice.
No tour of a rum factory would be complete without one rum drink. This is the Bacardi visitor center.
In Cuba, bats are considered lucky. When Doña Amalia Bacardí spotted fruit bats in the distillery, she insisted that a bat should appear on every bottle and it has been their logo ever since. 
The two forts that protected San Juan harbor for centuries. Fortín San Juan de la Cruz to the left and Castillo San Felipe del Morro to the right in Old San Juan. 

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