Boulevards & Byways

Where to go for Puerto Rican Rum History

A Taste of Puerto Rican Rum History

There's nothing better than rum punch on the beach.

There’s nothing better than rum punch on the beach.

As a by-product of the sugar making process, for rum production in Puerto Rico became a major industry in the 16th century. Sugar cane juice (guarapo) is extracted and boiled at a high temperature. The process yields a syrup called molasses, which when mixed with water and is fermented, produces the distilled spirit rum.  This is just a taste of Puerto Rican  rum history and here are two places you can visit to learn more.

Don Q Rum & the Serralles Castle in Ponce

A Taste of Puerto Rican Rum History

A refreshing mojito is my favorite rum drink.

A refreshing mojito is my favorite rum drink.

If you’re interested in the history of rum production in Puerto Rico, the Serralles Castle museum in Ponce is an interesting place to start.  This elaborate summer home of the family of Juan Serralles, the founder of the Serralles Rum Distillery, is the producer of the very popular Don Q Rum which is known for its distinctive flavor.   Build in the 1930’s, the mansion sits high on a hill with stunning views of Ponce and the Caribbean Ocean from its elaborate gardens and terraces.  Tours are offered of the mansion, which contain many of the family’s antiques, and includes information about the history of sugar cane production and rum distillation.   You unfortunately do not get any rum samples to taste here, this is strictly Puerto Rican rum history.   The rum is produced at the Serralles distillery in town, but they do not give tours.

You can purchase a ticket to just visit the castle or you can buy a combination ticket which will also include the Cruceta del Bigia and the Japanese Gardens which are across the street.  The Cruceta del Vigía or the Watchman’s Cross is a 100-foot-tall cross used by early Spanish settlers in the 1800s as a look-out for invaders and pirates.  This ten-story vertical tower with a horizontal sky bridge provides amazing views of the city of Ponce and the Caribbean Sea.  A Japanese garden was built on the grounds near the cross with the purpose of encouraging spiritual peace and harmony by the means of nature and Zen music. The garden features small lakes, rivers, bonsais, and bridges.

Hours for the Castle: Thursday through Sunday 9:30-5:50. Admission can include the museum only, the museum and gardens, or the museum, gardens, and crucifix.
Address: #17 Sector El Vigia, Pso De La Cruceta, Ponce
Phone: 787.259.1774
Web: Museo Castillo Serrallés or castilloserralles.org

The Bacardi Factory in San Juan

At the Bacardi factory you will learn how to make delicious rum drinks.

At the Bacardi factory you will learn how to make delicious rum drinks.

The Bacardi Visitors tour in San Juan is a popular tourist destination devoted to the history of Bacardi Rum.  The company actually began in Cuba and moved over to Puerto Rico in 1936 before Fidel Castro took power. The Bacardi brand’s fermentation process gives Bacardi rum its clear color and distinctive taste.

There are three tours:

  • $15 History Tour Includes: Learning about the past, present, and future of the Bacardi brand and how it evolved from being a small rum manufacturer in Santiago de Cuba to becoming one of the largest rum producers today.  This informative tour takes you through the history of sugar production and rum making and includes a movie about the Bacardi family and their rum production business. You receive: A commemorative Bacardi cup, a Bacardi special “welcome” cocktail for adults, and refreshments for children.
  • $45 Rum Tasting Tour includes: All of the above and PLUS guests will learn how to prepare a cocktail and learn about the attributes of the finest rums within the Bacardi portfolio. A  Distillery Tour and access to the Cathedral of Rum with an assigned Brand Specialist is also included .You receive all of the above, plus an  Honorary Certificate of Completion.
  • $45 Mixology Tour Includes: All of the above PLUS a class on how to prepare three legendary cocktails: Cuba Libre, Mojito and Daiquiri.

Hours: Monday to Saturday from 9:00am to 4:30pm
Sunday from 10:00am to 4:30pm

Address: Carretera 165, Catano, 00949, Puerto Rico

Phone: +1 787-788-8400

Website: casabacardi.org

Ron del Barrilito Rum

Ron Barrilito rum is a local favorite.

Ron Barrilito rum is a local favorite.

I would be remiss if I didn’t write about Ron del Barrilito, Puerto Rico’s oldest rum brand, and one highly esteemed, it is often called a “cult rum”.  Lauded for its deep, almost whiskey-like complexity, the two-star rum rests for three years, and the three-star is a blend of six- to ten-year-aged rums. Barrilito only exports to Spain and a few states.

As the story goes, in 1871, Pedro Fernández took over the property where his father was running a sugarcane plantation.  He had been producing small amounts of rum for guests. Fernández developed the secret rum formula, aged in Spanish sherry barrels that his family still uses today, and produced a smooth and mellow rum.   The small family run factory in Bayamon is not seeking endless growth. They only want to make excellent rum.

It’s 5:00!
Time for a Pina Colada.

Time for a Pina Colada.

It’s 5:00 somewhere, so it’s time for a taste of Puerto Rican rum history. Cuba Libre, Mojito, Pina Colada, and coconut rum are some of my favorite rum drinks. Which one should I have today?  Which one is your favorite? The history of rum and its long-standing relationship with Puerto Rico must be tasted to truly understand The culture.

 

 

Read more here:

3 Places to Visit for Coffee Production in Puerto Rico

5 Things to do in Puerto Rico

 

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7 thoughts on “Where to go for Puerto Rican Rum History

  1. Ali

    Can’t believe I haven’t been to Puerto Rico yet. I definitely want to do a rum tour when I get there! It’s my favorite liquor!

  2. Lia

    Mmmmm we are total booze travellers and I didn’t even realize Puerto Rico had such a fantastic rum scene! I’m gonna have to put this up next on my list (right after the Malt Whiskey trail in Scotland, which is currently #1 for places I’m itching to visit)!

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