On my second day in San Juan, we visited the Bacardi Distillery. Now I can’t say I’m the biggest fan of the Bacardi brand, but how could I miss the biggest rum distillery in the world? Getting to the distillery involved a short ferry ride across the bay and the Bacardi campus was big, green, and clean. Best of all, the tour was free and came with two free drink samples.
When we arrived, we were told we had 45 minutes before the next tour. After a quick look through the surprisingly sparse gift store, we moved on to the outdoor bar, set in a really ugly, 1960s era outdoor pavilion.
My friend Austin ordered a Mojitio and I ordered a Daiquiri. What we got was quite remarkable: probably the worst mojito and the worst daiquiri in the world. While at the world’s most famous rum distillery. My daiquiri was made of a highly watered down sweet and sour mix and the rum. It hit all the wrong notes in what you’d want with a good daiquiri – sweet, watery, and only chemical notes of sour, along with almost no rum taste. The mojito was even worse and we should have seen it coming, as it was served out of a large container with no visible signs of spearmint leaves.
It wasn’t until we went back in the gift shop to see if the prices on rum bottles might be low enough to assuage our dissatisfaction with the cocktails we’d been served that I realized the reason for the crappiness of the mojito. Bacardi makes a bottled mojito mix for sale to the public. It’s really nothing more than a rejiggered sweet and sour mix where all you have to do is add rum and ice. Naturally since Bacardi makes this godforsaken mix, they’re obliged to push it in their cocktails at their distillery. Sadly, this course of action confirmed for me how awful a mix I would never dare buy was, as well as being a strong clue in to the coming mediocrity of the distillery tour.
I’ve been on a few distillery, brewery, and vineyard tours. I go on them because they can be incredibly interesting and informative. For whatever reason, the Bacardi distillery guided tour missed the mark in a big way. It was hokey, superficial, and too long for a guided tour. It just didn’t do anything for me and as a result I’m going to be advising friends who visit Puerto Rico to take a pass on the Bacardi distillery (unless they don’t actually like mojitos and daiquiris).