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We are celebrating the Rums of Puerto Rico today as August 16th happens to be Rum Day. Rum Day is a perfect excuse to mix up your favorite rum cocktail and delve into the history of this exciting liquor….
Puerto Rico is known as the Rum Capital of the World and rightly so: it is Puerto Rico’s largest export and over 70% of the rum consumed in the US comes from Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico is the only rum-producing country to adhere to a minimum aging law for the drink
Rum production began in the 1650’s as a by-product of the sugar cane produced throughout the island. But Puerto Rican rum really took off and became synonymous with quality when the Bacardi family fled Cuba in the 1950’s. They moved to Puerto Rico and set up new distilleries and today, the Bacardi factory in Puerto Rico is the largest manufacturing facility of rum in the world.
In the last several centuries, there were hundreds of rums produced in Puerto Rico, but today, they have been consolidated down to a few brands; all of which can be found in the Caribbean Trading Company Store:
- Bacardi – The world’s most popular rum, has a massive distillery located in Cataño. It’s a popular and free tourist attraction. It is available in a variety of white, dark, flavored and aged rums. Of particular note is the Bacardi Reserva Limitada which is aged in lightly charred American white oak barrels for ten to sixteen years. The resulting rum is a deep reddish gold in color, and has a rich, smooth taste with hints of vanilla, oak and dried fruit.
- Don Q – Favored by locals as the best rum in Puerto Rico. Don Q maintains a tasting room by the piers in Old San Juan and is available in clear, gold and flavored rums. They are very smooth rums and are excellent for mixing.
- Ron del Bariilito – The “Cognac of the Caribbean,” it is a blend of rums aged six to 10 years in charred oak barrels. Not available outside of Puerto Rico, this is the rum to take home as a souvenir. It is a sipping rum meant to be drunk on the rocks.
- Palo Viejo – Hard to find outside the island, and a favorite for classic drinks like coquito, the Puerto Rican egg nog. Available as a white rum.
- Ron Llave – A traditional, mellow rum available in light or dark grades.
- Pitorro – A type of rum moonshine, and flavored with tropical fruits or unflavored, which is also known as Ron Cana. This was generally only available through friends, but recently the government of Puerto Rico has started approving artisan Pitorros approved for sale within Puerto Rico. Similar to moonshine, it is best to take shots of these.
How to Experience Rum in Puerto Rico:
Self – Guided: You can easily experience and try all of Puerto Rico’s rum while in Puerto Rico. On the to-do list: Try all of the different rums in the nearest bar. Visit Barrachina in Old San Juan, the birthplace of the Pina Colada. Visit the Don Q Hospitality House in Old San Juan and the Bacardi Factory in Cataño. Make sure to order a Cuba Libra – the most popular drink on the island.
Guided: Take a tour with Legends of PR – they do a great Rum Tasting Tour. Or visit during the Taste of Rum Festival, an annual event in Old San Juan.
At Home: Throw a Rum Tasting Party! Why not, right? TO get started, pick up various white and dark rums. You can set up some tastings of small shots of rum, but mixed cocktails is where rum really shines, so consider mixing up some rum cocktails as well. To learn more about Puerto Rico’s most famous Rum cocktails, click here.