WE ALL have our favourite rums in the Caribbean.
But however we feel about rums from this island or that island, we cannot ignore the impact of Bacardi on the world of rum.
And that makes the company’s Puerto Rico headquarters outside of San Juan a must-visit for any rum enthusiast.
We made our recent pilgrimage with a helpful tip from the concierge at the San Juan Marriott — don’t take a cab.
Instead, take the ferry from the port Old San Juan.
As ferries go, it’s a bargain — about 50 cents each way. And included in the price are a slice of local life and superb views of the bay.
Arriving in the town of Cataño that’s home to Bacardi’s operations, it just takes a short walk on the harbour to a parking garage featuring a small band of taxi drivers.
The Bacardi Factory isn’t just a distillery — it’s an impressive campus, with perfectly manicured grounds, pristine palm trees and even wind turbines that produce a portion of Bacardi’s energy needs each year.
While you can’t visit the actually industrial operations, the expansive tour, which features a look at the history of the company from its beginnings in Cuba to its arrival in Puerto Rico, is fascinating.
It’s a reminder of role rum has played in modern history.
It’s also well illustrates the impact of a small group of potent cocktails and, of course, the origins of a company whose roots go back to Don Facundo Bacardi Masso’s young life in Spain.
The tour concludes with a demonstration of different cocktails, from the famous Cuba Libre to a Mojito.
And, finally, there are complimentary rum drinks in the large pavilion at the centre of the campus. (We recommend the rum punch, naturally).
It all leads up to a rather comfortable rum back on the ferry to Old San Juan, completing a rite of passage for any rum pilgrim.