February 6, 2007


And the man behind the brand is...
Don Facundo Bacardi

Don Facundo Bacardi was a prosperous wine importer and merchant in Cuba. He had emigrated from Spain, where he was born in Stiges in 1816, at the age of 14 and married a daughter of a French Bonapartist fighter in 1843. They raised four children as Bacardi built his influence in Santiago de Cuba.

But rather than relax in comfort Bacardi became intrigued with improving the harsh rum favored by buccaneers and Spanish adventurers in the area.

Rum is created by fermenting a drop of yeast in molasses, a by-product of sugarcane processing, and continually transferring the culture to larger vats as it grows. As a major supplier of sugarcane Cuba provided Bacardi with tons of cheap molasses with which Bacardi could experiment. For many years he toiled in search of a smoother, mellower rum.

Bacardi perfected his rum, augmenting his personal stock of liquor. But the distinctive taste of Bacardi’s rum did not stay sequestered under his roof for long. Friends persuaded Don Facundo to undertake the laborious task of producing his rum commercially. He invested $3,500 in a dilapidated tin-roof distillery, better suited as a home to its colony of fruit bats than distilling rum. On February 4, 1862 Bacardi began selling rum from his ancient stills and fermenting tanks.

Bacardi’s rum went to market in bottles dressed in labels bearing a bat insignia, a suggestion of Don Facundo’s wife. That bat trademark remains on Bacardi bottles today. Bacardi’s rum was awarded a gold medal of recognition at the Philadelphia Centennial in 1876 and a few years later Don Facundo stepped down from the business. Assisted by his three sons and a son-in-law, Bacardi was able to keep his production process a family secret and even today Bacardi, which is the world’s most popular rum, is in the hands of the family.


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