Some 600 members representing several generations of the Bacardí family gathered at the Cataño distillery to mark the rummaker’s 150th anniversary late last week as part of the global celebrations taking place this year.
Bacardí’s relationship with Puerto Rico is rich and long. In 1909, the iconic brand was first registered on the island, but it would not be until 1936, when the family would decide to establish an operation on the island. The first batch of Bacardí rum made in Puerto Rico was produced Jan. 1, 1937. About two decades later, in 1958, the company purchased the 138-acre lot in Cataño, where it built its plant and the museum that the island’s first governor, Luis Muñoz Marín, christened as the “Cathedral of Rum.”
“The Bacardí family has been closely linked to Puerto Rico for more than 75 years. It is an honor to celebrate our 150th anniversary, here in front of the Cathedral of Rum, which produces more than 80 percent of the rum enjoyed by everyone,” said Facundo Bacardí, chairman of Bacardí Limited and member of the family’s fifth generation.
On Feb. 4, the company celebrated its evolution from a small distillery founded by Facundo Bacardí Masso in Santiago de Cuba in 1862 to what is now the world’s largest privately owned spirits company. Bacardí’s 150th birthday parties for consumers are taking place across the globe, from Berlin to Miami, through the rest of the year.
“This is an extraordinary milestone to celebrate as the passion and entrepreneurial spirit shown by my great-great grandfather in Santiago de Cuba a century and a half ago gave birth to exceptional rum that changed the spirits industry forever. Every day I’m inspired by his achievements and am proud to carry on his legacy,” Bacardí said.
The Puerto Rico operation will be featured in the National Geographic Channel’s “Ultimate Factories” show that will air Feb. 11, company representatives said.
Largest Bacardí family reunion ever
Last week’s family reunion activities included a commemorative celebration featuring a family photo of all eight generations of the Bacardí family and the unveiling of a bust of Bacardí Masso by sculptor and family member Helena Bacardí that will take permanent residence on the Bacardi campus in Puerto Rico.
Gov. Luis Fortuño and a handful of cabinet members, including Secretary of State Kenneth McClintock, were on hand for the historic milestone. Fortuño presented Bacardí with a proclamation declaring Feb. 4 “Bacardí Day” in acknowledgement of the company’s key role in the island’s economy.
The Casa Bacardi Visitor Center in Cataño is the second most-visited venue in Puerto Rico, drawing more than 230,000 visitors a year to learn about the rich history and unique production of Bacardí rums.
“It is exceptional for a family-owned company to survive 150 years, let alone thrive,” said Seamus McBride, CEO of Bacardí Limited. “The fact that Bacardí has grown into the third-largest global spirits company is truly something to celebrate.”