If you ever find yourself in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and you enjoy rum, especially Bacardi brand rum, then be sure to tour the Bacardi Distillery. At the time I took this tour, photography was not permitted inside the distillery operations, but one does learn a lot about Bacardi's history and you get to see first hand how they make their delicious rum.
Bacardi Limited is the largest privately held family-owned spirits company in the world. Originally know for its white rum, it now boasts a portfolio of more than 200 brands and labels. Founded in 1862 and family-owned for seven generations, Bacardi employs approximately 6,000 people, manufactures at 27 facilities in 16 markets on four continents, with sales in more than 150 countries. The company sells in excess of 200 million bottles per year.
Facundo Bacardi Masso experimented in rum production, and after several different techniques, he hit upon filtering the rum through charcoal, which removed impurities. In addition to this, Facundo aged the rum in white oak barrels, which had the effect of mellowing the drink. The final product was the first clear or "white" rum in the world. In 1862, Facundo and his brother Jose purchased and set up a distillery in Cuba. This distillery housed a still made of copper and cast iron, and in the rafters of the building lived fruit bats (which became the inspiration for the Bacardi bat logo).
Bacardi eventually expanded overseas, first to Mexico in 1931, then to Puerto Rico in 1936, under the brand name Ron Bacardi (Ron being the Spanish word for rum). Eventually Bacardi expanded to the United States in 1944.
In its 150 year history, Bacardi rum has won more than 550 awards for quality and product profile, making it the world's most awarded rum. Emblems of gold medals and the Spanish Coat of Arms appear on their bottles.