With the trend toward artisanal blends and even the tiniest island nations producing their own brand, Puerto Rico can still lay claim to being the rum capital of the world. While sugar cane harvesting has all but disappeared from the island, distilleries turn out products that account for more than 70% of the rum consumed in the United States.
Bacardi has a history that is strongly tied to the island of Cuba, where family members first developed the refined white rum, Bacardi Carta Blanca. Bacardi family members served in government, constructed landmark art deco buildings, opened distilleries, invented the Cuba Libre cocktail, and supported the revolutionaries until Castro adopted a communist agenda that led to the seizing of all Bacardi assets. The company’s modern story includes taking the headquarters of Bacardi Ltd. to Bermuda, where it has expanded to become the largest privately held spirits company in the world. Besides the number of Bacardi rum products, the company owns other spirits brands including Grey Goose vodka, Patrón and Cazadores tequilas, Dewar’s blended Scotch, Bombay Sapphire gin, and Martini & Rossi vermouth.
From Puerto Rico, where the Bacardi Corp. has been producing rum since 1936, the brand offers Bacardi Reserva Ocho Rum—Rye Cask Finish. This rum is aged for eight years in American oak barrels under the Caribbean sun before being transferred to rye whiskey casks for finishing. The green-label bottles sport the Bacardi sugar bat logo and offer rum that promises a “memorable experience, according to its marketing pitch.”
– Pairing by: Erik Calviño
The nose on this 8-year-old rum is deliciously balanced between the classic, molasses-driven, fruit notes and the spicy, rye and oak zing. On the palate, there’s a bright characteristic right out of the gate accompanied by caramel, light vanilla, cinnamon, and spicy oak. This rum is suitable for sipping neat as well as with a large ice cube.
Cigar Pairing: Fratello Navetta Inverso
The Fratello Navetta Inverso brings a strong, flavorful backbone of earth, pepper, cedar, spice, and roasted almonds complemented by a smooth, creamy texture. This combines exceptionally well with the sweet, fruity flavors of the Bacardi Reserva Ocho Rye Cask Finish. Take a sip of the rum, and then take several puffs to find the sweet spot where the smoke gets infused with the richness of the rum. A delicious butterscotch note emerges every now and then making this pairing a delight.