During the Prohibition years, increased demand for BACARDÍ products made expansion necessary. A bigger distillery was first built in Santiago de Cuba to increase production. Company president Enrique Schueg then expanded the company internationally by constructing distilleries in La Galarza, México in 1931 and in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico in 1936.
In 1958, just prior to the government’s illegal seizure of Bacardi assets in Cuba, a grand new distillery in Cataño replaced the one in Old San Juan. The setting could not be more picturesque, with 127 acres of palms and lush gardens and breathtaking views of the Bahía de San Juan, making the facility seem more like a hacienda than a place of business. Puerto Rico’s first governor, Luis Muñoz Marín, christened the facility as the “Cathedral of Rum.”
The Cataño distillery is the largest premium rum facility in the world. It produces 100,000 gallons of rum every 24 hours and ships 21 million cases per year across the globe. Nearly eighty-five percent of Bacardi’s production comes from the “Cathedral of Rum.” Casa BACARDI, an interactive museum and visitor center that tells the story of the brand and the family that founded it, sits on the distillery campus. It is the second most popular tourist site in San Juan with 230,000 annual visitors.
Sugarcane by product is shipped from other countries, since Puerto Rico’s sugarcane industry fell with the global collapse in the mid-20th century. Colossal 20,000 to 50,000 gallon fermentation tanks facilitate distillate maturation in a process that takes 20 to 30 hours. Distillates are then shipped in stainless steel tanks to be blended, and bottled in Jacksonville, Florida.
In addition to its commitment to the quality of its product, Bacardi is also dedicated to making its operations as sustainable as possible, producing 75% of energy used in the plant from organic waste. An on-site wastewater treatment plant recycles water for reuse, saving about 22,000 gallons of fresh water per day. Two enormous wind turbines placed right by the bay provide all the electricity needed to power the visitor center.