You don't need to be a fan of rum to enjoy touring Casa Bacardi in Puerto Rico, the largest rum distillery in the world. With three tour options, you can learn all about the history of the Bacardi family, learn how to taste rum, and even take a cocktail-making class.
Bacardi has been conducting tours since 1962, an almost 50-year tradition of showing visitors their factory. Bacardi's founder was Don Facundo Bacardí Massó, a Spaniard who emigrated to Cuba in 1830. He and brother José learned to filter rum through charcoal to remove impurities and age it in oak barrels to give it its smoothness.
Facundo's son, Emilio, was a politician, author, and eventually the mayor of Santiago de Cuba, but it was his brother-in-law, Enrique Schueg, who was the architect of Bacardi's international growth. Schueg began rum production in Puerto Rico in the 1930s.
Today, Bacardi continues to be a family business, now in its fifth generation. They continue to be, as Enrique labeled the spirit, "The Kings of Rum."
The Showroom and Secrets
Perhaps the most entertaining part of the tour is the interactive exhibit room where you'll find a recreation of Bacardi's first distillery, heirlooms, and photos from the past, and rum displays that let you sniff your way through different varieties and blends of the spirit.
You'll also learn 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.
How to Book a Tour
There are many tour companies that sell tours to Casa Bacardi and for cruisers in San Juan for the day, this is one of the most popular excursions. Note that if there is a cruise ship in town the day you intend to visit the distillery, you might be run into some crowds. Many tour companies will also combine the distillery visit with a day tour of the city, so that could be a good option if you're short on time.
It's also possible to book directly on the Bacardi website, where you'll have the choice of three different tour types.
- The Historical Tour is a 45 minute tour of the visitor center and includes a welcome cocktail at the Bat Bar. This is the most basic tour and best for those who are just looking for quick look-see at Casa Bacardi.
- The Rum Tasting Tour lasts 75 minutes and includes a welcome cocktail and a guided tasting of six different kinds of rum.
- The Mixology Class includes a welcome cocktail, plus the three cocktails you will learn how to make yourself in the class. The class lasts approximately 75 minutes.
Bottle Your Own Bacardi
Casa Bacardi also offers the opportunity to purchase and bottle your own bottle of rum with a personal engraving. The experience includes a bottle of Bacardi's Special Reserve Rum, which can only be purchased at the Puerto Rico distillery, a nice box to store your bottle, and a photo of you and your bottle in front of the barrel you poured it from. The most fun part is sealing the bottle with Bacardi's signature red wax.