Bacardi Factory, San Juan
When visiting San Juan in the past, we rarely strayed beyond the confines of Old San Juan itself. During our latest visit, we made the decision to branch out a little. We visited the Bacardi Factory -- perhaps a pilgrimage for serious rum lovers. Bacardi is now the largest premium rum distillery in the world.
The drive out to the grounds of Casa Bacardi, as it's known, in the town of Cataño took roughly 1/2 hr. or so mostly due to traffic congestion. Casa Bacardi is a complex of manicured grounds, a Visitor Center, offices and distillery, a restaurant, gift shop and a tasting tent which was being used to temporarily replace the iconic, bat-shaped, open-air pavilion. After gathering at the tasting tent, we boarded a tram for the short ride to the Bacardi Visitor Center where we saw displays and an interesting wall mural which included a Bacardi family tree. Here we had a lengthy talk by our Bacardi guide who explained the history of the Bacardi family and rum. The founder of the empire, Don Facundo Bacardí Massó, immigrated to Santiago de Cuba in 1830, though the rum distillery moved to San Juan in 1936. The guide explained a small bit about how rum is made and how it was stored in burned oak barrels. How the bat came to be the symbol for Bacardi was quite an interesting story.
After a very short mixology lesson and question and answer period, we had a look at the current distillery machinery, saw some museum displays, then moved on to the gift shop where you could not only purchase Bacardi souvenirs, but a variety of the Bacardi rums themselves. This shop was quite pricey as you might expect, but I did pick up a souvenir shot glass for a friend.
Our last stop was back at the tasting tent where we could use our ticket to obtain one free rum cocktail from a short list of drinks. Included with the free cocktail ticket was a nice souvenir Bacardi tumbler which you can see in the accompanying photo. Premium cocktails could be purchased for additional money as could additional tumblers.
There is also a nice restaurant in the Bacardi complex, and though I went there earlier to purchase a cold drink, we had to move on before I could actually do that.
This particular tour was $12pp (2015 price) which included 1 free rum cocktail and a souvenir tumbler glass. Other tours focusing on different experiences are also available for different prices. Tours can be booked online.
If you are without private transportation, you can take the Cataño Ferry, or La Lancha de Cataño (a small commuter ferry that services this one route only) from Pier 2 in Old San Juan to cross the bay to the ferry terminal in Cataño for a nominal fee each way. From the ferry landing, take a taxi to the Bacardi Factory -- taxi fare should also be reasonable.
Monday to Saturday from 9:00am to 4:30pm
Sunday from 10:00am to 4:30pm
The opening of a new restaurant at Casa Bacardi in July, 2015. I visited it briefly, but our tour was scheduled to begin in only a few minutes so having lunch here was no possible. The restaurant, Georgina, had we the time looked like a great place to eat.
Address: Carretera 165, Cataño. Puerto Rico
Directions: Bay View Industrial Park, near Parque La Esperanza, Cataño, Puerto Rico
Phone: Phone: (787) 788-840
Ntot a lot of excitement to the tour. The basic tour (as of April/2015) was $12 admission, which includes a large, plastic Bacardi cup, a token for a complimentary drink, and a boring pamphlet.
The basic tour gives you basic history of the company, the founder, and his family. The gift shop is rather expensive. I didn't dislike the tour, just wasn't anything to write home about.
If you are visiting Puerto Rico, or simply thinking about your next weekend, visit the largest premium rum distillery in the world – the BACARDÍ Rum Distillery, where more than 85% of the BACARDÍ rum is distilled. Here you will have the opportunity to experience first-hand the history and tradition of the most awarded rum in the
The Bacardi Factory is a fun little excursion if you're in San Juan, but I don't think it would top my list. First of all, be warned that it really shouldn't be called a "factory tour"--you don't see the actual factory at all or get to go into the building known as the "Cathedral of Rum." They do explain quite a bit of the history of the Bacardi company and the process of making their rums, and there's a "bartender" who explains how to make Cuba Libres, mojitos, and daiquiris. It's basically an interactive advertisement for Bacardi, so some people may find it fun, but others may not. It's a free tour, and they even give each person two free drink tickets, which is pretty fun. The gift shop there is great too.
One tip I have--don't go to the Bacardi Factory in a taxi from the cruise ports or pay money for it. Take the ferry across the bay for 50 cents a person, then you can take a $3/person taxi ride over to the factory. If you go with one of the taxis from Old San Juan, they have to drive you all the way around the bay and they will charge you $30+ when the tours are free and the ferry is much cheaper!
Across the bay from Old San Juan, in Catano, are the main offices and distillery of Bacardi Rum. They offer two free drinks before taking you on a tour of the process (not actually of the distillery) and they treat you to a demonstration of how to make Daquiris, Mojitos, etc.
When we walked off the ship we went to catch the ferry to old San Juan then a public bus to the Bacardi Rum Factory. Once we reached the factory we joined a group for a tour. The tour was interesting and then we had two free drinks each at the welcome center. My personal favorite was the cherry flavored rum. We bought one bottle of the cherry rum to bring home.
If you plan to ride a public bus make sure you have money in the form of coins. They do not take bills. It was only 50 or 75 cents but we did not have coins so the bus driver let us ride for free. He said it was his treat. That was nice of him. The driver would not take a tip either.
Waste of time and effort. Of all the things we did during our trip, this is the one we should have skipped. First of all, in the incredible heat, the trip there was exhausting and the tour did not justify the cost spent on the taxi and ferry getting there. They give you two free drinks which is nice, actually found a new drink I really like. But otherwise, not worthwhile. They take you to watch a little movie and then show you a facade of an original distillery and the first bar in the original bacardi building. You don't see anything they are actually doing now and turns out the headquarters. This isnt even the headquarters or the original site of Bacardi. Unless you love rum/bacardi, its probably not worth the effort.
Address: San JuanRelated to:
We hadn't exactly planned on hitting the Bacardi Factory but when we found ourselves with a bit of time to spare before going to the bioluminescent bay, we decided to make the short trip across the bay to visit the "Cathedral of Rum". To get to Casa Bacardi from Old San Juan, you need to take the Cataño ferry across the bay (Pier #2; tickets are only 50 cents). Once you exit the ferry terminal in Cataño, turn right and you'll find plenty of taxis waiting by the big yellow building. (there is a fixed rate of $3 per person). Don't forget to allow some time on the way back to take pictures of San Juan from across the bay!
When we got to Casa Bacardi, we were offered 2 coupons for free drinks at the outdoor Bacardi bar - they can make any drink you want, and I'd recommend the mojito or coconut rum mixed with pineapple juice :o) I thought the tour was very interesting since it mostly dealt with the history of the Bacardi family, from their early beginnings in Santiago de Cuba in 1862 to the construction of the new Bacardi factory in Puerto Rico as a result of the Cuban Revolution. What can I say? I like to drink rum, but I don't care all that much how it's made so for me learning about the Bacardi family was much more interesting than a real distillery tour. The tour began with a short video presentation and we were then shown into a room filled with old family photographs, rum bottles, letters and contracts, medals and awards. There was also another section where we could smell all the different rums along with their main ingredients. Finally, we stopped by the lounge where the bartender showed us how to make a few Bacardi cocktails and also explained the origins of the Cuba Libre, Daiquiri and Mojito.
Since the tour is free and you only need to pay for transportation, I thought it was well worth paying a total of $7 per person for a ferry ride across the bay, a visit to Casa Bacardi and 3 free drinks (we managed to get an extra coupon!). Casa Bacardi is open daily (check the website for schedule).
Directions: Casa Bacardi is located on Route 888 in the town of Castaño.
We decided to go to the Bacardi Rum Factory on the day we were leaving on the cruise since we had more time that day than the one we returned, I wouldn't put this on my must see list, in fact I think it's pretty close to being a tourist trap except for I did learn a little about the history of Bacardi Rum, which is still a family owned business, and why they use a bat as their logo, a colony of fruit bats at the original distillery in Cuba was the inspiration, bats are a symbol of health and prosperity.
To get to the Bacardi factory, you need to take a ferry ride across the bay (50 cents each way), and then catch a van for $3 per person which are sitting in a garage just about a block away if you turn right. It's too far to walk from the ferry pier. Once you get to the factory they will give you a free tour ticket and a couple of tickets for free drinks which you can have before or after your tour, obviously all made with Bacardi!
I was disappointed as this is not a factory tour, you don't see any of the rum production or inside the distillery. The tour consists of a very short ride via tram to the Bacardi welcome center where they tell you a bit of the history of the Bacardi family and how they ended up in Puerto Rico, next you watch a short film and then see a couple of recreated rooms, the Bacardi office and the 1st distillery. The last stop is the Bacardi lounge where they show you how to make some of the classic rum based drinks like the Cuba Libre, mojito and Daquiri. Then it's back on the tram to the gift shop, the only unique thing that they sell there is Bacardi's exclusive Reserva Limitada, aged twelve years, which was $85 per bottle.
Bacardi rum did not originate in Puerto Rico, the Bacardi family emigrated from Spain to Cuba where they started a distillery in 1862. The plant in San Juan was built after Prohibition in the US ended to save taxes on import to the US, after Castro came to power in Cuba, Bacardi left Cuba and currently does not have a presence there.
Personally I'd only recommend this tour if you've run out of things to do in San Juan.
Address: Catano, Puerto Rico
Directions: Across the bay from Old San Juan, if you are at El Morro, you can see the factory across the water. Cheapest way to get there is by ferry followed by a cab
Jason absolutely loved the Bacardi Rum Factory. He had such a great time learning about the history of Bacardi Rum and about how the rum is actually made. His favorite part was when he got to taste the various types of rum. The good thing about this tour is that it is free and you get 2 free drink tickets. You can drive to the factory as outlined below or you can take the ferry from Old San Juan. The ferry is only 50 cents a person. It's cold inside the building so bring a sweat shirt or sweater.
The tours are available 7 days a week Monday thru Saturday from 8:30 am to 6pm. The last tour begins at 4:30pm and Sunday 10am to 5pm with the last tour leaving at 3:45pm. The factory is open for tours 357 days a year- closed for 3 Kings Day (1/6), Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Years Day
Address: Hwy. 888, Catano, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Directions: From San Juan by car, get out of San Juan, take Rt 18 until Highway 22 W, take the exit for Catano Road 165. There is a little brown Bacardi sign. Take Road 165 until km 2.6 - follow the brown Bacardi signs. You can also turn right at the light at Int 888
Just got back from San Juan and took ferry over to tour the bacardi rum distillery....guess what? It was closed for two weeks. So disappointed, we had no option but to ferry back across the river.
I certainly wish the site would have told us they would be closed, but we saw nowhere that the first two weeks of September was a plant closing.
So, you folks planning a trip next year....remember this..........also, learn to speak Spanish fluently....very few over in Puerto Rico speak English.
Christened as the “Cathedral of Rum” by a former governor, the Bacardi Rum Factory is the world’s largest producer of distilled spirits. Producing more than 100,000 gallons of rum daily and shipping more than 21-million cases of rum per year worldwide, this is a massive operation with a correspondingly massive tax bill (along the lines of $240 million per year). Free forty-five minute tours provide insight into the company’s history, the rum-making process, and rum-mixing. Most importantly, a visit includes two free drink tickets per person to sample the goods.
IF YOU MUST GO TO BACARDI, KNOW THIS:
PROS: free tour, complimentary beverages (2 per person), inexpensive alcohol and gifts, gracious staff
CONS: 4+ hours total (including travel from Condado), BORING tour, bus/taxi to ferry to bus/taxi just to get there and back, surrounded by other tourists, long lines for drinks and/or gift shop
GREAT ALTERNATIVE TO THE ABOVE!!!
Don Q Rum has a "Casa Don Q" across from Pier 2 in Old San Juan. Think of it as a miniture Casa Bacardi tour, and at your own pace. Same free beverages, excellent gifts, gracious hosts, and interesting facts as Bacardi (and I, personally, think better rum!) without the extra ferry and bus/taxi ride. SUGGESTION: when you first walk in, go directly to the bar area and ask for a "house mix" (very tasty) with an extra shot of Don Q Crystal and take your time browsing the company/manufacturing info in the clean, air-conditioned Casa Don Q.
Address: Old San Juan, across from Pier 2.
Directions: Once you're in Old San Juan, look for Pier #2, stand in front of it, and turn around 180 degrees.
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Great if youve harboured a lifelong ambition to own a Bacardi branded key-fob or ash tray.
For normal people, a hideous waste of your holiday.
After the mediocre Guinness Factory in Dublin, the abysmal Heineken Experience in Amsterdam, we have finally learnt our lesson - a drink related factory tour is not / cannot be a good thing.
The most interesting exhibit is a collection of small barrels containing different flavoured Bacardis that you sniff.
Located on the other side of the bay, a trip to the Bacardi Factory will swallow up at least 4 hours of your holiday - spend the time in Old San Juan instead.
As for the "free samples" - they're not FREE. You've paid for two ferrys and two taxi rides by the end of the day.
They're not even that good. The mojitos have been mass produced in a jar that looks like a dirty fish tank.
Address: Not telling you
Directions: Still not telling you - AVOIDRelated to:
Although the Bacardi factory sounds like good use of an afterenoon, your time would be better spent touring Old San Juan. The factory is your standard tourist trap, and not worth a visit. Sure you get two free rums, and a semi interesting tour of the factory, but visit the fort instead.