Since the construction of Bacardi’s grand distillery in Cataño, Puerto Rico, in 1958, the building dubbed the “Cathedral of Rum” has impressed visitors from around the world. The Casa BACARDÍ Visitor Center introduces as many as 230,000 visitors each year to the story of the Bacardi family and their globally renowned brand.
However, Cataño is not the only place where those interested in the Bacardi legacy can delve into the family’s history. The company chose to open a second visitor center in Spain following the success of the BACARDÍ Academy, which drew more than 4,000 visitors to the village of Sitges in 2009 after relocating from the BACARDÍ Spain headquarters in Madrid. Due to the shared history of Bacardi and Sitges, Bacardi choose its founder’s birthplace as the site of its second museum and visitor center.
In July 2010, the company opened a Casa BACARDÍ in Sitges, Spain, which is only a 45-minute drive south of Barcelona. Located in a 19th century building next to the Sitges City Council at the Mercat Vell, or old market, in the village’s old city center, Casa BACARDÍ Sitges offers a glimpse into Bacardi’s history within a hub of Spanish art and culture.
Working in partnership with the Sitges Tourism Promotion Agency and the Sitges City Council, BACARDÍ Spain set out to develop a permanent exhibit that would enhance the already rich culture of Sitges. Casa BACARDÍ is part of Sitges’ Espai de la Mediterrània, a local effort to preserve the historical and architectural heritage of the city’s oldest areas while honoring its cultural and artistic history.
Bacardi held the opening ceremony for Casa BACARDÍ Sitges on July 28, 2010. Together, former Bacardi president and CEO Séamus McBride and then Sitges Mayor Jordi Baijet Vidal opened the doors and embarked on the museum’s inaugural tour. Casa BACARDÍ then welcomed visitors to experience the exhibit for free during its opening weekend from July 29 to August 1.
Where it All Began
Sitges, Spain, is the birthplace of Don Facundo Bacardí Massó, the founder of Bacardi and the creator of its first premium rum. Don Facundo lived in Sitges until he immigrated to Santiago de Cuba in 1830 at just 15 years old. After saving some money, the young entrepreneur opened his first business, a shop, in 1844.
Don Facundo faced several trials during his time in Cuba, including a devastating earthquake, the bankruptcy of his business, and a cholera outbreak that claimed the lives of two of his children. Still, he persevered, turning his attentions to the spirits industry. From his home in Santiago de Cuba, he set out to develop a lighter, smoother rum that would contrast with the harsh, unrefined varieties consumed in the Caribbean at the time.
Don Facundo Bacardí Massó worked for 10 years to develop the perfect blend and revolutionized the industry in the process. He was the first blender to discover the merits of using a single type of yeast to control fermentation and originated the technique of blending multiple rums, developing the flavor in oak barrels, and using charcoal filters to remove impurities. Not only did his innovative methods yield a superior rum, they also became the new industry standard.
In 1862, his years of effort produced Ron BACARDÍ Superior, the world’s first aged white rum. Don Facundo’s masterpiece offered a pure, balanced flavor that made it ideal for cocktails, and its smooth taste made it popular among more sophisticated audiences.
Ron BACARDÍ Superior is now the most popular premium rum in the world, and Bacardi—the company Don Facundo founded over 150 years ago—is the largest privately held spirits company.
A Tour through the Past
At Casa BACARDÍ, visitors have the chance to explore the history of the Bacardi family and its iconic brand. Guided by a seventh-generation Bacardi family member, guests move through four distinct rooms with a variety of interactive attractions. The BACARDÍ brand ambassador first leads visitors through the Heritage room, which provides an overview of Bacardi’s history from its founding to the present day. The Heritage room reveals the history of Bacardi’s iconic bat logo and coconut tree symbol, and it follows the trials and triumphs of the Bacardi family from Spain to Cuba and beyond.
Next, guests can visit the Production room, where they may explore the steps that go into creating Ron BACARDÍ Superior. While learning how molasses, barrels, stills, and filtration fit into the production process, visitors can gain hands-on experience with rum production as they take molasses samples and even grind their own sugarcane. Guests can then try their hand at mixing their own Ron BACARDÍ Superior cocktails at the BACARDÍ Lounge Bar, as professional cocktail makers lead them in crafting traditional BACARDÍ cocktails such as the Cuba Libre, Daiquirí, and Piña Colada. Afterwards, students can enjoy their own cocktails in the warm open air of the outdoor terrace.
In addition to the cocktail classes included in its normal tours, Casa BACARDÍ offers two-hour cocktail workshops that provide a more extensive look at the history and evolution of popular cocktails, including recipes for original BACARDÍ cocktails and other well-known contemporary drinks. Students learn how to use the tools of the trade, practice creating and tasting their cocktails, and even receive a personalized certificate upon completion.
Casa BACARDÍ in Sitges can also serve as a venue for private events and celebrations. With a customizable event experience and exclusive celebration space, both locals and tourists alike can choose the rich history of Sitges and Bacardi as the backdrop for their events.