150 Years and Still Going Strong: How Bacardi Rum Is Made

A step-by-step guide to the rum-making process

Puerto Rico may only be a stone’s throw away from the mainland, but this U.S. commonwealth is about as different from the continental U.S. as it could possibly be. Turquoise waters, swaying palm trees, and an actual rain forest with more biodiversity than the country's other national forests combined set Puerto Rico apart as an idyllic retreat. Combined with the vibrant culture and nightlife, this makes Puerto Rico a hot spot for many American travelers who are looking to get away to someplace warm without the added pressure of a passport.

Click here for the 150 Years and Still Going Strong: How Bacardi Rum Is Made Slideshow

At the center of it all is a little drink called rum. It’s been a Caribbean staple for generations, but it has reached its pinnacle here in Puerto Rico with the Bacardi brand. One of the world’s most popular cocktails, a Cuba Libre, combines Bacardi rum and Coke to achieve a refreshingly sweet finish, while piña coladas are synonymous with beachside boozing. If you want to get away to an island paradise, complete with tropical drinks, you need not look further than Puerto Rico and Bacardi.

Bacardi has been called the king of rums and the rum of kings, and it's no surprise that with over 500 awards, it is the most awarded rum and spirit in the world. This past year, Bacardi celebrated an incredible milestone: 150 years of making the world’s favorite rum.

It all started Feb. 4, 1862 when Don Facundo Bacardí Massó, a Spaniard living in Santiago de Cuba, decided to elevate the harsh spirits common to the time by coaxing them with a series of revolutionary techniques. Starting with high-quality blackstrap molasses, he isolated a special strain of yeast that is still used in every single batch of Bacardi rum.

Don Facundo also initialized a technique for charcoal filtration that was never before seen in the spirits world. It allowed him to use a particular finesse when removing impurities and controlling flavor of the rum. Instead of bone char, coconut husks are actually used for the charcoal, creating a vegan-friendly result. In fact, all Bacardi rum is vegan, gluten-free, and kosher.

Today, Bacardi continues to be an example of forward thinking. Back in 1862, a colony of fruit bats in the rafters of the distillery in Cuba caught Don Facundo’s wife’s attention. Bats were considered to be a symbol of good health, family unity, and good fortune, and the Bacardi family embraced this symbol and has featured it on every bottle of rum they have sold.

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Although they may not flaunt it, Bacardi is involved in many green initiatives that set it apart from other brands. The distillery in Puerto Rico is 75 percent self-sustaining; they create their own energy sourced from wind and methane to power a majority of their facilities in the area. Every day Bacardi recycles 22,000 gallons of water. They also collect rain water, purify it, and use it for energy and to cool their distillation tanks.

Bacardi is always expanding due to the continuing demand, but every step of the process is met with consideration for the environment and respect for the legacy of Don Facundo. His signature is etched in the glass of every Bacardi bottle, a reminder of his revolutionary spirit and pride in perfection. Here’s to another 150 years, Bacardi.

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