The Bacardi distillery is huge; it emcompasses many other buildings besides manufacturing. When we arrive, we park next to tents which are going up for next week's arts and crafts festival which they sponsor once a year. Revenues from the fair go to charities. This tour is completely free, and you are given white tickets to enable you to board the tram that takes you from building to building. Orange tickets allow complimentary drinks mixed with Bacardi. The choices today were coke, fruit punch, 7 up and some other thing.
Our tour guide speaks English fluently. They are very conscious of security here, and are constantly counting heads and speaking into their walky-talkies.
The first sugar cane plantation in Puerto Rico is established in 1517. Harvesting starts in January by slave labor until it's abolished. Work is done in exchange for basic necessities, such as lodging and food. They are very strict about No pictures allowed inside any of the buildings. The Bacardi logo is a bat which had been suggested by the founder's wife, as the first building had fruit bats in it. Fruit bats are a sign of family unity and prosperity. This is now the 6th generation. They are processing 21 million cases per year and are exporting to 71 countries. The rum is also made in Mexico and the Bahamas, and the labels will say that.
On to the 5th floor where they have the rum gallery, they show off the "cuatro" which is the national musical instrument of Puerto Rico made of white oak. In the early 1990's they bought the Martini & Rossi brand and subsequently, acquired the Dewar's brand. They continue to be made in Italy and England respectively.
Different color rums are used for different flavor mixes. Bacardi 8 is the top of the line and is aged for 8 years. Bacardi Light outsells all other world rums. The 151 is flammable and not permitted on airplanes for that reason; it is 75 proof. Bacardi is made from molasses, yeast and water
. On to 2nd floor where they show the manufacture; we see a huge 50,000 gallon drum with a brownish gold liquid fomenting,- looks like some alien form.
There are 700 people employed at Bacardi/Puero Rico, and 7000 worldwide. The carbon dioxide which is collected post fermentation is sold to soda companies and people who make dry ice.
The drums for storing rum are made of white oak which is imported from Kentucky and Tennessee.
We then watched the bottling process from filling to putting in cases for shipment. Women do the quality control in various stages of the process. In the gift shop, we purchased a bottle of Tropico for $12.95, and which sold for $25 on Ashford Avenue in Condado. It's a fascinating story about a family business that grew to mammoth proportions.