Category Archives: Bacardi

Bacardi Limited is the largest family-owned spirits company in the world. Bacardi produces, markets and distributes brands such as Bacardi Rum, Grey Goose Vodka, Bombay Sapphire & 42Below Vodka. The Bacardi Limited brand portfolio comprises more than 200 brands and labels.

Casa Bacardi Visitor Center – Cataño, Puerto Rico

Bacardi Superior through the years - photo copyright Cheri Loughlin

Casa Bacardi Visitor Center welcomes visitors with pristine white building, beautiful pillars, lush landscape and radiant walkways.  The doors are a gateway experience through the past, present and a glimpse of what the future of Bacardi holds for not only the brand, but the company and family.  What I experienced in visiting Bacardi is unity within the structure of staff.  This privately held family based company operates on an international scale, yet relates to each individual with openness and a giving spirit. 

Charles Rodriguez kindly led my small group through the exact tour hundreds take every day at the facility in Cataño, Puerto Rico.  The following is a sampling of the history behind the Bacardi brand, the infamous bat and what you will see when you visit Casa Bacardi Visitor Center, Catano, Puerto Rico.

Casa Bacardi Visitor Center Catano Puerto Rico photo copyright Cheri Loughlin

The four pillars leading into the Casa Bacardi Visitor Center represent each of the four Facundo Bacardi y Maso children; Amalia, the only daughter, and Facundo, Emilio and Jose, the three sons.

Tiled murals within the entry high above head play tribute to Bacardi advertising through the years. 

Bacardi Bat Visitor Center photo copyright Cheri Loughlin

Upon entering the double doors, the Bacardi Bat radiates from the center of what resembles a Spanish Caribbean colonial courtyard.  Don Facundo used the Bat as the Trademark for his rum as an easily identifiable insignia.  His rum became known as “el Ron del Murcielago” or rum of the bat.  His rum was also proclaimed to be, “Better than any Cognac.”  The bat is symbolic for good health, fortune and family unity. 

Christopher Columbus photo copyright Cheri Loughlin

Three tiled works of art hang on the walls of the colonial courtyard surrounding the bat.  These illustrative stories tell of the three major milestones that took place in history that facilitated Don Facundo’s experimentation with the distillation of rum. 

Christopher Columbus sighted land on his first trip to Americas on October 12, 1492. The land he discovered was San Salvador in the Bahamas. A few days later he discovered Cuba then modern day Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The following year, on his second trip, he discovered the island of Borinquen, which he named San Juan Bautista, today known as Puerto Rico. He wrote in his journal: “All the islands are very beautiful . . . but this last one seems to be superior to the others in beauty.” Columbus brought with him sugar cane shoots from the Canary Islands. – Cited from Casa Bacardi

Sugar Cane Cultivation photo copyright Cheri Loughlin

Sugar Cane originated in the Pacific island of New Guinea. The Moors brought it to the Canary Islands and in 1493, Christopher Columbus to the Caribbean. Puerto Rico’s Governor, Juan Ponce de León, was one of the first to cultivate sugar at his farm, ten miles south of San Juan. In the 17th century sugar production increased when large numbers of slaves were brought from Africa to work the sugar plantations. A by-product of the sugar manufacturing process, molasses, was what was and is used for the manufacture of rum. – Cited from Casa Bacardi

Piracy in the Carribean photo copyright Cheri Loughlin

In the late 16th century, treasure-laden Spanish galleons proceeding from Mexico into the Caribbean were a natural target for privateers – commanders of pirate ships that were allowed by their governments to capture, attack and loot enemy vessels. It wasn’t until 1856 that most European countries declared privateering illegal. Some of the most notorious pirates to visit to Puerto Rico were Captain Francis Drake and Captain François Le Clerc known as “Jambe Le Bois” for his wooden leg. Jambe Le Bois is also known for looting and sacking Santiago de Cuba. These pirates were known to drink a concoction called “Kill Devil” or “Rumbullion”. This brooding and medicinal tasting alcoholic drink was a crude and rough predecessor of today’s rum. – Cited from Casa Bacardi

There is an intriguing movie that lasts brief minutes once visitors pass through the colonial courtyard.  Unfortunately this is something I could not capture through photography, so it is a must see for your visiting pleasure.  The music is stirring as it takes one through a collage of Bacardi advertising history and then introduces the viewer to the history of the Bacardi family and company.  You will learn the reason behind the palm trees that grow so prevalently on the Bacardi property and the significance of a single palm withered and left behind in Cuba.  After the movie a reproduction of the distillation process awaits. 

Antique Production Process

Don Facundo Bacardí Massó immigrated to Santiago de Cuba in 1830 where he set up business as a wine merchant and importer. Within a few years, he began to experiment with the distillation of rum. After years of experimentation he achieved a breakthrough that revolutionized the manufacture of rum and eventually transformed it from a local Caribbean beverage into an internationally consumed spirit. The new type of rum, BACARDI, much lighter and milder than the local spirits, became the local favorite. On the 4th of February 1862, Don Facundo Bacardí and his brother, José, bought a rum-making operation — The First Distillery — for the modest sum of thirty-five hundred pesos. The price included a copper-cast iron still, or alembic, with the capability of distilling 35 barrels of fermented molasses in one day. – Cited from Casa Bacardi

Another room filled with generations of Bacardi family, stories, history and awards is merely steps away.  If our guide, Charles, could have stayed for hours there would have been stories upon stories to tell about each and every photo in this room.  These are the stories I would love to sit and listen to.  Perhaps one day…

Don Facundo Bacardi Masso with Charles Rodriguez as guide photo copyright Cheri Loughlin

Don Facundo Bacardi Masso

Founder of the Bacardi Company

In 1830, at the age of fifteen Don Facundo Bacardí emigrated from Sitges, Catalonia to the handsome colonial city of Santiago de Cuba. On February 4, 1862 he established the Compañía Bacardi. Its products would soon delight kings, connoisseurs, and independent thinkers the world over. Don Facundo not only changed rum forever, he changed the way people drink and think about rum. By raising the quality of the product through attention to every detail of the process and, as a result, the quality of rum’s image, Don Facundo created rum, as we know it today. – Cited from Casa Bacardi

Bacardi Awards and Certificates with Charles Rodriguez as guide - photo copyright Cheri Loughlin

Bacardi Awards and Certificates

Premium Aged Spirits - Bacardi 8 photo copyright Cheri LoughlinThere are eight medals that appear on every bottle of BACARDI rum. The oldest was awarded in Matanzas, Cuba (1881), shortly after Don Facundo, the originator of the world’s original premium light bodied BACARDI rums, retired as the founding president of Bacardi y Compañía. Other awards followed from international exhibitions in Paris (1889 & 1900), Bordeaux (1881), Barcelona (1888), Chicago (1893), Buffalo (1901), and St. Louis (1904).

The Bacardi Company is also honored to exhibit the Royal Spanish Coat of Arms on its labels. It was in 1888 when Her Majesty, The Regent María Cristina, conferred on BACARDI rums the distinction of “Purveyors to the Royal Household” of Spain. Four years later court physicians used BACARDI rum to cure her son, Alfonso XIII, of the influenza. The Royal Physician later wrote to the Bacardi family and thanked them for “making a product that had saved the life of his Majesty”. – Cited from Casa Bacardi

Taste of Bacardi

Bacardi offers samplings of the Bacardi rums by way of aroma.  Since our palate is tempered by more than just taste it does wonders to sample the varieties side by side, comparing their similarities and differences in an alternate fashion.  Bacardi offers alcoves with small aroma containers with rum varieties inside.  Here visitors get the opportunity to sample lighter bodied rums, premium aged rums and the flavored rums of Bacardi.

Next up: The Lounge

The original Cuba Libre or Bacardi & Cola first came together in Old Havana after the Spanish American War.  An American military officer ordered Bacardi rum, Coca-Cola over ice with a lime wedge.  After enjoying a few he ordered a round for his buddies.  The drink became known as Cuba Libre, the most popular cocktail on the planet.  Interesting to note: The original Cuba Libre is not just Bacardi & Cola.  A traditional Cuba Libre uses Bacardi Gold Rum rather than Bacardi Superior.

Bacardi & Cola photo copyright Cheri Loughlin

Bacardi & Coke

1 measure Bacardi Gold Rum

3 measures Coca-Cola

Wedge of Lime Garnish

Pour Bacardi into a highball glass filled with ice.  Add Coca-Cola and the wedge of lime

Bacardi Mojito photo copyright Cheri LoughlinThe Bacardi Mojito became popular in Cuba around the same time Don Facundo originated the Bacardi Light Rum.  The Mojito clearly remains popular as can be seen on cocktail menus the world over.  This sweet concoction of bruised mint leaves, sugar, lime juice, club soda and Bacardi Rum makes a fabulous spring or summer time sipper.

Bacardi Mojito
1 measure Bacardi Rum
12 Mint Leaves
1/2 Lime
4 teaspoons Sugar
2 measures Club Soda
Crush 12 mint leaves, sugar and a half a lime into a highball glass. Add ice and pour in Bacardi Rum. Fill with club soda.

Bacardi Daiquiri photo copyright Cheri LoughlinAn American mining engineer seeking relief from Cuba’s hot Caribbean sun developed the Bacardi Daiquirí at the same time as the birth of the Cuba Libre. After a long day’s work in the Daiquirí iron mines, Jennings S. Cox took fresh lime juice, sugar, crushed ice, and Bacardi rum and mixed them into an overnight sensation. Then, in the nearby city of Santiago de Cuba, he named the cocktail Bacardi Daiquirí after the mines. – Cited from Casa Bacardi

Bacardi Daiquirí
3 measures Bacardi Rum
1 measure Lime Juice
1/2 teaspoon Sugar
Mix all the ingredients in a shaker with ice.  Frappe and serve strained on the rocks or mix all ingredients in a blender and serve in a chilled cocktail glass.

Will Ramos, Cheri Loughlin - The Intoxicologist and Joe Gerbino - photo copyright Cheri Loughlin

Why to ask for Bacardi by name

You have experienced a small photo essay of the Bacardi Visitor Center tour learning a tiny fraction of Bacardi history and how to make three of the Bacardi legendary classic cocktails.  What you may not know is a variation of the Bacardi Daiquirí is the Bacardi Cocktail which was also the subject of a 1936 court ruling that not only protects the Bacardi name, but ensures you as a consumer are entitled to receive exactly what you order when you walk up to a bar. 

At the time of the court ruling a restaurant owner was selling ‘Bacardi Cocktails’ without using Bacardi Rum.  Bacardi was just as highly regarded a brand then as it is now.  Protecting the family name and business was and still is a matter of honor and pride.  When you think about it, it is also protecting the consumer.  When we order Bacardi at a bar, we want Bacardi in our glass and not just whatever the owner or bartender feel like pouring.  The same may be said for any other brand whether it be vodka, whiskey, tequila or cognac.  Bacardi paved the way for the protection of all brands with this court ruling. 

Today, Bacardi Rums continue unchallenged as the only spirit which is truly ‘The Mixable One.’

The Intoxicologist at The Wall of Bacardi Superior photo copyright Cheri Loughlin

Of course Bacardi offers all their visitors two cocktails as a token of their appreciation for stopping by to tour the beautiful facility.  After spending time at Bacardi and around San Juan, I’m not sure where visitors will get a better offer.  The grounds are spectacular, the people welcoming and the history rich with a wealth of information if one chooses to soak it all in.  The gift shop is unlike any other with pricing well below what I have seen out on the open market.  To wonder if trekking out to Casa Bacardi is worth the experience is mind boggling.  I traveled from Omaha, Nebraska.  Not only was the visitor tour worth it, this was my second tour and I would definitely go back again.

Cheri Loughlin is a leading cocktail and photography resource for beverage companies, event planners, businesses and individuals. High resolution cocktail and beverage stock photography images are available in downloadable digital format in the newly redesigned Stock Photography Gallery at www.cheriloughlin.com.

Twitter, Facebook, StumbleUpon – str8upcocktails @ gmail.com – ©2011 Cheri Loughlin-The Intoxicologist, All Rights Reserved. All opinions, reviews and spirits’ coverage are the personal opinion and decision of Cheri Loughlin.

 

Bacardi: The Superior Factor

92 Beautiful Rainy Beach photo property of Cheri Loughlin

April 25, 2009, I sat at a beautiful outdoor hotel bar with rain falling down around me on a beach in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in sheer delight at having been given a personal tour of the Bacardi facility in Cataño, Puerto Rico, the day before.  As I sat indulging myself on parmesan cheese and garlic smothered French fries remembering the previous days in paradise while listening to the ocean behind me, what stood out in my mind the most were the people rather than the place. 

69 Distillery View 3 Across the water photo property of Cheri LoughlinPuerto Rico is indeed beautiful with the huge trees, fabulous weather and beaches that stretch on for miles and miles.  The culture and history runs deep.  I could photograph the countryside and stroll the streets endlessly soaking up the past, present and what the future holds for this place.  But it is not the location in itself that makes Puerto Rico such a wonderful destination, nor was it being invited by one of the largest liquor companies in the world.  It was being welcomed.  There is a difference between an invitation and feeling welcome.  Bacardi, the people within the Bacardi family and the people I met along my travels to, within, and home from Puerto Rico welcomed me with open arms. 

It takes me too long to gather my thoughts when something strikes me to the core.  Call it procrastination, perfectionism or not enough time in the day.  I wonder sometimes how to talk about something that seems ordinary that gets taken for granted and is often the target of criticism due to its global proportions in the industry.  Bacardi; it is internationally recognizable as a brand and family, criticized for the way their business is structured due to its private nature, yet respected as a worldwide contender in the liquor industry.  On a personal level; esteemed by many in the community in which the Bacardi facility in Cataño resides.  Bacardi is well-regarded by its employees as well.  As a product it has been taken for granted as an ordinary rum doing an average job as a mixer.  Upon closer examination its superior qualities become quite evident.

Bacardi – The Superior Factor

From this day forward Bacardi Superior will no longer be relegated to the freezer amid bags of frozen brussel sprouts and fast food dinners kids deem as delicacies (ie: mini corn dogs and taquitos).  The reason should have been clear as the label states: Superior.  Bacardi Superior, sometimes referred to as light rum, reigns far more supreme than this Intoxicologist once thought.  Thank goodness it took more than a shake and strain in a cocktail shaker to discover this spirits enormous, yet subtle characteristics.  It was my extreme pleasure and privilege to learn the exceptional quality of the Bacardi spirit from Will Ramos, Bacardi Brand Master.

74 Will Ramos, Cheri Loughlin - The Intoxicologist and Joe Gerbino photo property of Cheri Loughlin

Bacardi Superior’s primary function in a cocktail is its instant mixability.  No one single characteristic contained in this particular spirit either dominates or fades into the background.  When swirled in a snifter for an initial tasting one can see the tears that form just as quickly as they fade away.  This is just one visual clue as to this Puerto Rican rum’s light quality.  Three short whiffs of the Bacardi Superior reveal vanilla and slight citrus with notes of almond.  Adding a single ice cube to the snifter will open up the bouquet of the spirit and a flush of revived flavor waves throughout allowing one to detect a few more flavor notes. 

75 The Bacardi Spirits photo property of Cheri LoughlinNo matter how modern the distillation process has become through the years one thing remains the same.  Bacardi maintains strength of character with its consistent profile.  While Puerto Rican rum is required to be aged at least one year, Bacardi Superior is aged a full year and then blended with sometimes older years of Superior to bring the spirit to the same character profile as the original Bacardi to maintain consistency of character.  This special spirit uses the oldest form of Cuban yeast.  This yeast was discovered in the early morning as it bubbled naturally at the bottom of sugar cane stalks.  Bacardi’s special strain of yeast is like a fingerprint.  Other rums may try to duplicate the formula, but just like every individual is unique, so is Bacardi.

Don Facundo not only changed the way people thought about rum, but he created ‘firsts’ for the rum industry; charcoal filtration.  The Charcoal filtration process acts as a magnet, lifting impurities or congeners from the spirit to leave behind the cleanest, lightest of rums available.  Bacardi still does not rest.  Polishing filters give Bacardi a special sheen so that it lilts and sparkles from bottle to glass.  The polishing filter adds nothing to the flavor, but rather is part of experiencing the Bacardi spirit. 

There have been many other firsts for Bacardi through the years.  Since the time Don Facundo first began creating and offering his rum to the public to this time when Bacardi carries a full line of rum with the Bacardi name as well as other spirits companies under its wing, there will continue to be original creations and new beginnings.  Bacardi stands at the forefront as a leader in the liquor industry.  My visit to Casa Bacardi was supposed to be all about the liquor, but in all honesty I became a little sidetracked while meeting the people of Bacardi.  It is a fair and just statement to say Bacardi is all about spirit; human spirit is wrapped up in everything they do at Bacardi and I was fortunate enough to witness that for a few hours one day. 

Cheri Loughlin is a leading cocktail and photography resource for beverage companies, event planners, businesses and individuals. High resolution cocktail and beverage stock photography images are available in downloadable digital format in the newly redesigned Stock Photography Gallery at www.cheriloughlin.com.

Twitter, Facebook, StumbleUpon – str8upcocktails @ gmail.com – ©2012 Cheri Loughlin-The Intoxicologist, All Rights Reserved. All opinions, reviews and spirits’ coverage are the personal opinion and decision of Cheri Loughlin.