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Caribbean Related Discussion

Getting around the islands can be half the adventure of discovering new rum.


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Old 01-30-2009, 05:35 PM   #1
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Default Ron Bacardi tour

On Wednesday, January 28 I met Federico Hernandez, the organizer of the upcoming Puerto Rico Food and Rum Festival along with MOR member Rumelier. We had scheduled a tour of the Ron del Barrilito facility as well as the Bacardi plant. Here is an account of the Bacardi tour.

Fresh off our tour of Barrilito we were straight off to Bacardi arriving at the gates around 11:30 AM. The guard issued a tour pass and we were directed to the visitors parking lot. Federico lead us directly to the newly inaugurated tasting center. It is an open air semi- circular bar with an interpretative design Bat wing shaped roof.
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We were greeted by a representative who quickly issued us two tickets apiece, each good for a complimentary Bacardi libation. The Rumelier inquired if we had been put on a VIP tour. The representative asked us to belly up to the bar while she verified our tour. Two bartenders were on duty. Pre-made Mojitos were lounging in an interesting glass dispenser contraption. We perused the selection of rums for tasting. The top shelf was lined with Bacardi “8” which was produced in the Bahamas (It has been widely known that Bacardi is to close that facility in the Spring of this year. Rumelier’s contacts have indicated that it is already shuttered.). Rumelier looked over and said, “How about an 8 on the rocks for breakfast?” A man after my own heart…so we had one….or three… The bartender was engaging and knowledgeable.

We then got the call that our VIP tour was ready. We were driven over to the visitor center in a golf cart type buggy. Our guide Michael greeted us at the curb. He spoke perfect English with a New York accent. The entry foyer is lined with ceramic tile murals depicting the importance of sugar cane, molasses and rum in Puerto Rican history. We were then seated in a wide screen movie theatre for a short film on the history of Bacardi featuring a number of past Master Distillers. We were then lead into a small replication of a pot still distillery replete with sound effects.This lead into a reproduction of an old Bacardi director’s office with many old documents and old bottles of rum on display. Hey Rumdog007…I got to see a number of those old bottles of Bacardi you have in your collection. We followed into a “sensory” room where little barrels of products ranging from raw materials to finished rum can be nosed.Then whisked into a show bar styled after an old private club setting. The bartender delivered a wonderfully choreographed demonstration on how to make three classic rum drinks. The Cuba Libre, the Mojito and the Daiquiri. It was like having the actor James Earl Jones tutoring you on cocktail making.






The last room before exiting was the “interactive room” where Rumelier was seen sending out an email.

We walked out into the warm sun and fresh trades which were coming on a slant from the Northeast and were driven over to the entrance of “The Cathedral” which houses the distilling facility.




We were not shown the “back rooms”, but our guide Michael lead us up to the roof top terrace where we were able to get a birds eye view of the 126 acre facility and a peek at the GIANT five column still at the rear of the building.




As our tour came to an end our guide brought us to the gift shop where one can stock up on all things Bacardi.

A wonderful unhurried tour with excellent service from start to finish. This is a worthwhile tour if for no other reason than to get a feel for what a family has done in becoming a worldwide leader in rum production.


One always learns something when touring with others who have the same passion. An interesting point I had never learned before is that by law, aged Puerto Rican rum cannot be “topped off” in the barrel with younger rum. This distinctive point was brought up at the Barrilito tour and was again confirmed at the Bacardi tour.

Federico invited us to lunch, with no arguments. His Restaurant/Rum bar “Cana” is undergoing a remodeling. So he brought us to “El Picoteo”, which is an authentic Spanish tapas bar located in Hotel El Convento in the heart of Old San Juan. Federico ordered, we ate and drank. Tremendously good food and service.

The day did not end there. Federico was off to pick up his daughter from school…and the Serralles museum was still ahead for the Rumelier and me. Bob..Help me out and post a report on Serralles and KOCO Rum Bar!


What a heady day for me. In my twelve years of living here I had never visited Barrilito or Bacardi. To do so in the company of Federico and Rumelier was special indeed.

Age, culture or languages are not boundaries when one has a glass of rum in hand.
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Old 01-30-2009, 06:48 PM   #2
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That sums it up perfectly fo me Jim. We actually went on after the Don Q Museum (where more rum was consumed) to the "Rums of Puerto" rum stand in the Tourism Offices but unfortunately it was closed. I retired to my hotel pool bar for some more Cuba Libre's before I ended up in Koco for Dark 'n Stormies and Montecristo's with some Red Snapper. As Rum Runner said language and age are no barrier for the love of the Noble Spirit. Might do it all over again in May
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Old 02-02-2009, 01:03 PM   #3
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Bob were is Koco's? Is it in old san juan?
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Old 02-02-2009, 02:02 PM   #4
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Glad you got to see more than the golf cart and bat tour. As I flew over the Bacardi distillery last week, I could almost smell the fermenting molasses.

I was also impressed that there seemed to be less effluent coming from the distillery into the bay. Bacardi was the first distillery of which I was aware to make an effort to clean up their waste product stream and turn it in to methane to fire their boilers. That experiment didn't prove to be as productive as the accountants would have liked but like they say in the chemistry lab, no experiment is a failure.

I don't know the exact figures but I'm told that today Bacardi recovers a significant amount of methane from their spent yeast reducing the biological oxygen demand on the environment.
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Old 02-02-2009, 02:09 PM   #5
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Quote:
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I don't know the exact figures but I'm told that today Bacardi recovers a significant amount of methane from their spent yeast reducing the biological oxygen demand on the environment.

From the top of the Cathedral would could see the huge anaerobic tanks where the methane is produced. There are least 3 or 4 of them. We were told the percentage of energy this process produces toward firing the boilers. Of course now I can't remember the exact number, but I think it was upwards of 60%.
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Old 02-02-2009, 02:43 PM   #6
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I have only very jealous thoughts about both of you!
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Old 02-02-2009, 04:44 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by RonJames View Post
Bob were is Koco's? Is it in old san juan?
Koco was in the El San Juan Hotel and Casino outside of Old San Juan. They had a fairly good rum menu, unfortunately there were many mistakes on it, eg. Malibu from the Bahamas!! and Zapaca Rum from Guatemala. I asked the helpful waiter if I could have a copy. After he asked his boss, they said no, and that he would e-mail me a copy later. I'm still waiting! It must have been top secret, like many things in the rum world.
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Old 02-02-2009, 05:37 PM   #8
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Ha! Everyone knows that Zapaca rum is from Turks and Caicos.
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Old 02-02-2009, 09:21 PM   #9
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Rumdog007...You are always welcome here in Puerto Rico. If you are passing through and time permits, let's meet up.
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Old 02-02-2009, 10:53 PM   #10
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Its a bit like Don Q not being Puerto Rican and Bacardi 8 coming from Trinidad. Now all the secrets are coming out!!
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