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Editorial

Celebrating 160 years of BACARDÍ rum

8 min read

February 4th marks an epic 160 years of BACARDÍ rum.

From pioneering the rum making processes to surviving fires, earthquakes and hurricanes, it’s an incredible family history worth celebrating. On February 4th, 2022, we mark Founder’s Day by celebrating with our BACARDÍ family and community in bars around the world, drinking our favorite rum cocktails and sharing with you some of our favorite BACARDÍ facts.

RUM MAKING PIONEERS
BACARDÍ rum’s founder Don Facundo experimented a lot with the distillation process before he perfected it and officially founded the BACARDÍ rum company on February 4th, 1862 in Santiago de Cuba. In his quest to develop a light, smooth yet flavorful rum, he experimented by distilling two rum bases in parallel. One heavier and more flavorful, Aguardiente, the other, Redestilado, much lighter thanks to the process known as redistillation. When he blended these together, he found exactly what he was looking for. A smooth and light-bodied rum, perfect for mixing or sipping neat. And with that, the Parallel Production Process was born, a method still used by BACARDÍ rum today.

A SWEET DISCOVERY
Back in the 1800’s, consistency when making rum was not an easy task. Rum was typically made with wild fermentation where airborne yeast would eat and ferment sugar to make alcohol. Distillers were unable to control this process, resulting in an unpredictable flavor profile every time. Don Facundo however discovered that by isolating a single strain of yeast he could ensure a consistent flavor profile. He chose a particular strain of yeast found on local sugar cane in Santiago, one that was to become known as La Levadura BACARDÍ. Cultured by his son, Facundo Bacardí Moreau, it remains the oldest Cuban strain of yeast in the world and is still used today.

It’s impossible to replicate
the taste of
BACARDÍ rums
without it!

To ensure purity and BACARDÍ rum consistency the precious yeast is kept refrigerated, safeguarded under lock and key and only accessed by Maestros de Ron BACARDÍ and experienced BACARDÍ lab technicians. Thirsty to know more? Dive deeper into how we make BACARDÍ rum, from Molasses to Mojito.

THE PROPHECY OF ‘EL COCO’
Planted by Don Facundo’s son at the original BACARDÍ distillery on February 4, 1862, in Santiago de Cuba, El Coco was more than just a coconut palm. El Coco became a symbol of the family’s strength and resilience taking on whatever mother nature threw its way. A distillery fire in 1880, five earthquakes in 1903, 1906, 1914, 1932 and 1947 and, of course, many hurricanes. This resilience bore the El Coco prophecy, ‘The BACARDÍ Company will survive in Cuba so long as the coconut palm lives.’

The beloved palm died two years shy of its 100th birthday and, shortly before, on October 14, 1960, revolutionary government forces illegally confiscated all BACARDÍ operations and assets in Cuba without compensation. Many of the Bacardí family had already fled Cuba in exile, but not before cleverly moving BACARDÍ rum’s precious yeast strain and trademark out of the country.

The prophecy of El Coco lives on today – at every BACARDÍ site around the world, there are palms planted to represent El Coco. Next time you visit Casa BACARDÍ in Puerto Rico, aka the ‘Cathedral of Rum’ and the largest premium rum distillery in the world, why not enjoy a Mojito under the palms as you soak up the history of the Bacardí family!

THE BAT, BY REQUEST
It was Don Facundo’s wife, Doña Amalia, who suggested the bat as BACARDÍ rum’s now iconic logo. Discovered at the distillery, she recognized bats as a good omen. Why? Well, bats represented both good health, fortune and family unity in Spain, Don Facundo’s homeland. And to the Taíno, Cuba’s native people, the bat represented the keeper of all cultural goods.

Both to celebrate Don Facundo’s Spanish heritage and his dream in Cuba, Doña Amalia suggested the bat as the symbol of BACARDÍ. Without realizing it, this turned out to be a stroke of genius. Many people at this time in Cuba were unable to read or write, so the bat became an iconic and recognizable symbol when people began asking for ‘El Ron del Muriciélago’ aka ‘The Rum of the Bat’.

A WORLDWIDE THIRST
Outside of Cuba, the popularity of BACARDÍ rum quickly spread at the turn of the century. This was thanks, in part, to BACARDÍ rum being essential in popular cocktails recipes at the time; the Daiquiri, Cuba Libre and Mismo. To meet the thirst in Europe, BACARDÍ opened a bottling facility in Barcelona in 1910, making BACARDÍ Cuba’s first multinational company.

By 1983, BACARDÍ had bottled, shipped and sold a total of 200 million cases of rum, an equivalent to 2.4 billion bottles. And by 1987, the yearly total alone reached 20 million cases. That’s the equivalent of 240 million bottles or 3.6 billion Mojitos – annually. A feat worth celebrating!

The countdown to 1000 awards is on ...

THE ‘MOST AWARDED’ RUM
From industrial innovations in 1876 at the Philadelphia International Exposition to being bestowed the Spanish Coat of Arms, BACARDÍ has been awarded for its achievements in quality and production since the very beginning. To date, BACARDÍ rum has received over 990 awards and in 2022 is set to surpass 1000 awards! A monumental achievement for the world’s most awarded rum.

Eight family Master Blenders left to right: Mario Portuondo, Manuel Jorge Cutillas, Guillermo Garcia Lay, Joaquín Bacardí Bolivar, Facundo Bacardí Bravo, Jorge Luis Del Rosal, Totén Comas Bacardí, Emilio Bacardí Bravo.

83 MAESTROS AND COUNTING
Did you know that our beloved Maestros, the craftspeople behind our rums are more than just distillers? They take care of the whole rum-making process – from sourcing ingredients to bottling the finished product – ensuring consistent smell, taste and quality of BACARDÍ every time. Practice makes perfect – This craft is honed over time through apprenticeships that can take up to 10 years of training under a qualified Maestro. Since 1862 there have been 83 Maestros, 26 have been family members, and for 100 years they all came from Cuba. And the most recent Maestro de Ron BACARDÍ? That title was appointed to Troy Arquiza late last year. Congratulations Troy!

A LEGACY OF GREAT COCKTAILS
From Mojitos to Old Cubans, BACARDÍ rum has been synonymous with many classic cocktails. And in 1898 the Daiquiri became the epitome of sophistication – refreshing, chilled and elegantly served in a coupette glass. It was invented by Jennings Stockton Cox, a mining engineer who named it after the mine, Daiquirí, in Cuba where he worked. Cox decided to make something refreshing, something to beat the Cuban heat. So he mixed lime, sugar, BACARDÍ Carta Blanca rum, a dash of cold water and ice, a luxury at the time. A couple of shake, shake, shakes later and the rest is history. A delicious history you can read all about here.

THE FUTURE DOESN’T SUCK
A family-owned company since the very beginning, taking care of the planet and its people has always been at the forefront of BACARDÍ. Beyond crafting our rums to perfection, we work hard on crafting a sustainable industry. From World Clean Up Day to our #thefuturedoesntsuck initiative with Lonely Whale to remove one billion straws from the ocean and turning them into records as well as upcycling BACARDÍ bottles into glassware. There’s a whole lot more exciting stuff coming soon – stay tuned.

We’re proud of our 160 years, a huge effort worth celebrating.

CELEBRATING FOUNDER’S DAY AT BACARDÍ
When we celebrate our Founder’s Day, we do it with the whole BACARDÍ community. One recent tradition, known as ‘Back to the Bar’ started in 2018 where BACARDÍ employees (aka our Primos, the Spanish word for ‘cousin’) traded their office chairs for bar stools. It gives employees a chance to visit bars in their local cities, to immerse themselves in the industry, shake up the latest cocktails and meet with bartenders and customers. There’s no better way to connect with customers and see the delicious drink trends unfolding around the world. A tradition we love to uphold when we can!

And now it’s your turn. Whether you’re at your favorite local bar or virtually catching up with friends at your home bar, stir, shake or mix your favorite BACARDÍ cocktail and help us toast to the next 160 years. Salúd!