“80% of the rum that is shipped around the world comes from here, that’s why this distillery is so important,” explained Jaoquin Bacardi III, a fifth generation Bacardi family member and current President & CEO of the Bacardi Corporation, as he gave Pursuitist an exclusive tour of the company’s headquarters and distillery in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
“I’ve been here 22 years myself. Started up in the ranks and worked my way up…”
It’s true. Many companies around the world do not have the history that Bacardi has. A family culture — 152 years old — driven by culture, tradition, and a drive to see success after Don Facundo Bacardi was exiled in 1959 from Cuba and the family was forced to leave with nothing.
And now? What separates Bacardi from every other global operation, many of which started as family businesses that no longer have family backing, is a mix of the Patriarch, the product, and a lot of planning before the pour.
A tour of the San Juan Bacardi Distillery starts with a welcome rum cocktail, of course … and continues in an interactive exhibit room where guests find a recreation of Bacardi’s first distillery, heirlooms and memorabilia from the past, and sniffable rum displays that let you smell your way through different varieties and blends of the spirit.
“The family takes responsibility for the consistency of the product,” explained Bacardi as he allowed one of the company’s top mixologists to teach about some of the steps that go into making rum: the two types of fermentation, the best types of rum for sipping vs. mixing, and even what Bacardi does with the byproducts of rum production.
While no proprietary secrets were shared, Pursuitist was privy to an exclusive entrance to the actual distillery and warehouse where Barcardi’s barrels are stored, before we returned to the “Cathedral of Rum” to pay more homage to the largest privately-held, family-owned spirits company in the world.. and every sip they allowed us to savor.
“Since 1959, we’ve converted Bacardi rum to become the number one selling spirit in the world,” beamed Bacardi.
We’ll toast to that!
Kate Michael is a Writer, Emcee, On-Camera Host and Fashion/Commercial Model. Follow her at @kstreetkate