As a result of these experiments Facundo decided to use charcoal filtration to remove the rum’s impurities, and he also employed oak-ageing to smooth the raw edges of the spirit and produce a mellow clear white rum.

There is no doubting Don Facundo’s drive and business acumen. He bought a distillery and in 1862, with his brother Jose, he established Bacardi & Co. in order to properly distribute and market his product. In 1872 he turned the management of his business over to two of his sons, Emilio and Facundo Bacardi Moreau.

There followed one of the political upheavals that were to have a direct bearing on the destiny of the company. In the 1890s Emilio Bacardi was exiled from Cuba by the controlling Spanish government after fighting for the Cuban rebels in the Cuban War of independence. The company was steered through this politically messy period by Emilio’s brothers, while the family’s women went into exile in Jamaica. However, in a triumphant reversal of fortune following the Spanish defeat by US forces and the brief subsequent American occupation of Cuba, Emilio Bacardi was made mayor of Santiago de Cuba in 1899. It was also at around this time that the Daiquiri was invented.

The company fared rather better at the beginning of the new century, expanding into the US and Spain and completing a new distillery in Santiago shortly before the death of Emilio in 1922, an event which occasioned the shops of Santiago to close for two days in mourning. With Emilio’s brother Facundo at the reigns of the newly-incorporated company, Bacardi was well-placed to take advantage of the Prohibition-inspired American tourist boom of the 1920s and ‘30s, often using specifically US-targeted ad campaigns.

Further growth followed in the 1930s, with the company opening a new bottling plant in Mexico and a new distillery in Puerto Rico. This latter resulted in Bacardi becoming embroiled in the first of many significant legal battles over copyright - in this case to win the right to put the Bacardi name on the rum produced in Puerto Rico.

During WWII, Bacardi was headed by Jose Pepin Bosch, a member of the extended family who would eventually become Cuba’s Minister of the Treasury in 1949. In the period before the Cuban Revolution of 1959 Bacardi switched their international trademarks out of Cuba to the Bahamas. The year after the revolution, the family were forced to flee when their Cuban distillery was nationalised by Castro. Bacardi refused any settlement from Castro and today the head offices are in Puerto Rico, Bermuda and Miami.

In recent times, Bacardi has diversified to expand its portfolio, acquiring major brands such as Martini & Rossi vermouth, Grey Goose vodka, Bombay gin, Dewar’s scotch, 42 Below vodka, Cazadores tequila and Drambuie and Benedictine liqueurs.

  • Bacardi
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