MIAMI Nov 16 Bacardi, long known for its
low-priced, white rums to mix with cola or fruit juices during
the hot summer months, is launching a limited edition line of
high-end rums culled from the family's century-old private stock
in the hope of changing the world's perception of its flagship
Bermuda-based Bacardi Limited, owns 200 spirit
labels, including Bombay Sapphire gin and Grey Goose vodka. This
month it began distributing 12,000 bottles of the sipping rums,
some aged up to 23 years, in New York and Miami.
Unlike Bacardi's ubiquitous $15-per-bottle rums, the four in
the Facundo Collection, named for Bacardi's founder and family
patriarch Don Facundo Bacardi Masso, are meant to be served
neat, with a splash of water or an ice cube.
"We have about 300 rums in our family's private reserve,"
said Facundo L. Bacardi, chairman of Bacardi Limited and the
founder's great-great-grandson. "We've experimented with them
for 150 years in a variety of different ways, but no one thought
about commercializing them."
The Facundo collection includes four varieties, varying from
Neo, an up to 8-year-old clear rum that sells for $45 a bottle,
to the top-of-the-line rum - Paraiso - which is aged up to 23
years in White Oak barrels, emerging as a deep amber color and
retailing for $250.
Stepping even further away from Bacardi's mostly commonly
known rums, each comes in a heavy glass bottle adorned with
images reminiscent of Bacardi's long history, including its
signature bat logo or a glass relief of Havana's landmark
Bacardi Building, the company's former Art Deco headquarters
which was seized by the Castro regime in 1960.
The darker rums are "a step above what we associate with
Bacardi," said Ed Hamilton, a Chicago-based rum importer and
industry consultant. "Historically, Bacardi has neglected their
aged rums while concentrating on their younger white and gold
rums, which are the best-selling rums in the world."
The high-priced rums are not Bacardi's first foray into
high-end aged rum, though whether they will shift the perception
of Bacardi as a purveyor of party spirits to one of refinement
remains to be seen.
The company distributes an $85, 12-year-old rum called
Reserva Limitada sold only in Puerto Rico, where it operates a
To celebrate the family's 150th anniversary the company
released 400 bottles of a 20-year-old rum called Ron Bacardi de
Maestros Vintage MMXII priced at $2,000 each.
Rum making begins with sugar cane juice, or more commonly
molasses, the dark byproduct of sugar production. Yeast, added
to a mixture of molasses and water, converts the sugar in the
molasses to alcohol, which is then distilled into rum.
Modern rum production in the Caribbean developed as a result
of sugar production in the mid 17th century.
The Facundo collection rums are created by blending
different varieties of aged rums and aging them again in barrel
made of Sherry or White Oak.
Bacardi began on Feb. 4, 1862 in Havana when Don Facundo
Bacardi Masso, who emigrated from Spain in 1830, opened the
With the rising popularity of craft spirits in the United
States, Bacardi's Brand Managing Director Toby Whitmoyer said
the time is ripe to introduce drinkers to a higher-end product.
"With the Facundo collection we've taken on the
responsibility to show them the way, and raise the bar so that
more people can discover these rums," he said.
The popularity of aged rum in the U.S. has been building
over the last decade.
"Bacardi is realizing that what it produced before was a
mixing rum," according to Gabriel Orta who runs The Broken
Shaker, a high-end bar with a speakeasy atmosphere on Miami
Beach. "They see all these great bourbons and gins where
manufacturers aren't cutting corners and I think they want to be
a part of that."
(Additional reporting by David Adams)