It may sound a bit touristy to visit a distillery while on vacation, and it is, but it is fun, and educational in Puerto Rico. If you have ever had a rum drink, then you know there are varieties and brands, and probably have found the one that suits your tastes. Over the years I have always found Bacardi White suits my tastes. It seems to blend well with Coke, Diet Coke, Mojitos and a number of Rum drinks, without a strong or harsh flavor to interfere with your enjoyment.
While vising the flag ship Bacardi Plant in Puerto Rico, I discovered that the famed Bacardi Rum comes in several aged and flavorful varieties. In a special VIP Rum Tasting, I was offered 4 varieties and instructed to evaluate them, as if they were fine wine, looking for bouquet, legs and color. I once thought all these evaluation techniques to be questionable, relying on subconscious labeling, but now realize there is credence to the process.
My small class was offered Bacardi White (still my choice), Bacardi Oakheart (a competitor to Captain Morgan’s brand), Bacardi 8 (aged longer than most) and the top of the line, Bacardi Reserve Limitada (which was the most flavorful because it is a blend of several varieties – just as it is in the classification of Reserve Wines). The latter is the most expensive and hardest to find in retail, but the complexities of flavors makes it a perfect sipping beverage – not to be diluted in mixed drinks.
Tours are available daily through the visitor center giving tour groups a history of the process and a museum like exposure to the artifacts of the family business, which started in Cuba but was moved to Puerto Rico when Cuba became a communist country in the 1950s. A short film is informative and entertaining as well.
In a group scheduled tour at 9 am and with added generous samplings before touring, it was an enjoyable, informative, and tasty (pun intended) adventure. One visit here and you’ll never again take Bacardi Rum for granted.
NOTE: Terry Zinn is past president of the International Food Wine and Travel Writers Association