Ah rum, whiskeys first cousin, how I love thee.
Rum, that precious distilled spirit made from molasses is dear to my heart. Served with a Coke, shaken with lime juice, or just sipped with two ice cubes, rum is never far from my heart.
And, the heartbeat of this amazing and versatile spirit can be found in San Juan, Puerto Rico at Casa Bacardi, home of Bacardi spirits; makers of the vast majority of the world’s rum. I have enjoyed visiting Casa Bacardi so much, I have actually taken all three tours, making this Average Joe, an expert.
So, let this Average Joe share his rum (drinking) experiences with you and help you plan on an exciting visit.
Bacardi Distillery Tours are very popular. And you have two options for booking your experience. You can go online, and book one or more of the three tours or you can show up in person and hope for the best.
I have done both and I can assure you, booking on line works MUCH better. The day, I showed up ad hoc, the place had hundreds of cruise ship guests and I did not think I was going to get in (I eventually did).
Booking on line my second time and subsequently additional times, this method was mucho better!
When you first check in, you will be given a welcome drink as it is part of your tour package. You will have several classic drink choices:
- The Sunrise
- The Mojito
- The Cuba Libre
- The Mojito
Saddle up to the bar, make your pick and just relax as the staff goes to work making you a delicious drink.
I recommend arriving early, sit under the cabana and enjoy the warm Caribbean sea breezes, As you sip your perfectly made drink, (additional drinks are only $10.00) and just relax, enjoy the music and the vibes of this special place.
Life is best this way.
Three Tours; Three Different Experiences
You have three options for your choice of tours. Some people only do one, some do multiple tours. Staff have told me it is not uncommon for guests to do more than one tour, making for a rather boozy day long adventure!
Each tour is a different experience. Each tour guide provides a different take on the tour. Let me explain-
Signing up for this class allows you a welcome drink, a tour of the grounds and an opportunity for a educational seminar and tasting. You will make three drinks in class:
The class and tour is a wonderful 90 minutes long. And, you will be expected to drink your way through the class as an expert Bacardi mixologist explains the subtle difference between making a half-ass drink and making a frigging great drink!
Yes, there are subtle differences as this Average Joe would learn.
And, by the time you get to making your mojito, life is great as that rum from your “welcome to Casa Bacardi” and the ‘Cuba Libre’ drinks are doing their job.
Mrs. Joe and I loved the class. We found it very interactive and entertaining and as you can imagine what a group of folks are like who are focused on drinking rum can be like, it was just a fun group to be around.
A unique aspect of this tour is you will be able to get a whiff of the molasses that is stored onsite and used in the making of the rum mash. An extremely sweet smell that will have you aching for some baked goods.
Just plan on not driving afterwards.
Cost of the mixology class, $60.00.
Step back in time and see what the early days of Bacardi were like. Yes, it was not all fruity drinks and roses. Ever wandered where the “Cuba Libre” got its name from? Well, this tour will tell you.
Ever wander why Casa Bacardi was suddenly moved from Cuba to Puerto Rico? Yep, this tour tells you, and I won’t spoil it for you.
But here is a hint, Fidel Castro really liked his Bacardi rum.
This tour is akin to more of a museum tour. As the name implies, you will see more of the historical side Bacardi legacy. For a history buff like myself this was great! This is the least expensive of the tours.
And, the least intoxicating of the tours.
The Historical Tour will access different parts of the Distillery different than the mixology class and rum tasting tour, giving you a very different experience.
Cost of the Historical tour, $15.00.
Them big ‘ol guns are shaking up the best daiquiri ever!
Rum Tasting Tour
The vast majority of us are familiar with Bacardi Silver. This is the most common rum served in the fruit based drinks we so hold dear to our hearts; think pina coloda or daiquiri inspired drinks.
What we do not know in our naiveness is all of the age rums that Bacardi makes. This is our mistake.
The Rum Tasting experience allows you to sample 6 different rums, 5 of these are the aged rums
- Bacardi Silver
- Bacardi 4 Year Old
- Bacardi Reserve 8 Year Old
- Bacardi Reserve 10 Year Old
- Bacardi Limited Reserve 12 Year Old
- Bacardi Special Reserve
This is the tour that will challenge everything you thought you knew about rum.
Yes, you are going to receive ample portions of these different rums and will have an opportunity to really understand the differences between a $10.00 bottle of rum and a $160.00 bottle of rum as you sniff and sip each rum over the next hour.
The aged rums have a life of their own. Extraordinarily complex, with tastes of tobaccos, honey, almond, smoked oak, each of these aged rums far exceed the Bacardi Silver and are more comparable to fine bourbons or cognacs without the inexpensive price tag.
These rums you want to sip neat, with perhaps a fine cigar.
As a passionate bourbon drinker, I will have to think twice about future bourbon purchases and consider the aged rums both for variety and as a cost savings opportunity.
The Bacardi Special Reserve is an exclusive bottle, available only here at Casa Bacardi. If you want an exclusive bottle for your collection, this is it. For $160.00 you get to fill the bottle, dip it in wax, and a storage box.
This tour I really enjoyed. I would never had tried these 5 aged rums, and I certainly would have never tried the Bacardi Special Reserve. This was an exceptional treat. One word of caution, I noticed the couple who sat next to me did not finish their samples. I think they were a bit overpowered by the rums. Perhaps, if drinking rum neat is not your thing, just stick with the mixology class and tour.
Cost of the Rum Tasting tour, $50.00.
Of the three tours, the rum tasting exceeded my expectations. I had an opportunity to sample rums that otherwise, I would never have tried. It was highly educational and I left the tour with a far greater appreciation of rum, than when I started.
Average Joe highly recommends this tour!
The Gift Shop
Okay, no tour is complete without a gift shop and Casa Bacardi is no different. All things Bacardi can be found here; you got your shirts, your shots, your mousepads. But, here is where Casa Bacardi’s gift shop takes a hard fork from all the others. We got rums! And not just your silver and gold rums.
No, they got the really good stuff for sale here! The Bacardi aged rums!
The difference between the aged rums and the silver and gold rum is akin to the difference between drinking Coke and Diet Coke. Same manufacturer, totally different tastes and experience. Aged rums are more akin to a well aged bourbon, yet, significantly cheaper than its whiskey cousin.
The 4 year old and 10 year old rums have only been recently released to the public. I have not seen them for sale in the local liquor stores and as such, may not be carried by many vendors. If you enjoyed them, I would recommend buying these rums here.
Now, here is an Average Joe Tip! The price of the 8 year old Reserve Rum is significantly LOWER at the gift shop than outside on the open market. Making this a value for your money. In fact, you can engrave a bottle cheaper here, than purchasing one outside of the gift shop with no engraving.
Look at the two pictures-
I got my eye on one of these beauties-
Getting to Casa Bacardi
If you arrive by cruise ship, getting to the Casa Bacardi is crazy easy. Just hail an Uber or taxi from the docks. There are plenty of them. I would budget about $15.00 with Uber.
From Condado, the main tourist zone, I would also budget about $15.00 with Uber.
I find San Juan taxi drivers to be substantially more expensive than Uber. In fact, in my experience, taxis are double the costs of an Uber. Just for your information.
The drive is only about 20 minutes, depending on if you catch rush hour traffic during the week day.
Follow Average Joe as he wanders the world, saving money and working on setting the World record for most stays in a Marriott branded hotel. With over 5,0000 stays under his belt to date, he has a pretty good shot at it.