Puerto Rico – The World’s Best Rum

Rum is the traditional drink of sailors, whether they fly the Union Jack or the Jolly Roger. This potent and palatable potion is distilled from sugarcane, Puerto Rico’s world renowned rum industry owes its start to the first sugar cane imported to the island by Christopher Columbus. It was Puerto Rico’s first governor, Ponce de Leon, who established the first rum distillery on Puerto Rico in the early 16th century. The drink found favor both on the island and off, and soon Puerto Rico’s sugarcane plantations were supporting the world’s largest rum industry.

So it is today – Puerto Rico is still the world’s leading producer of rum and supplies 80% of the rum consumed in the United States. Available in white, amber and gold varieties, Puerto Rican rum is the basis for such delicious cocktails as the Pina Coloda, Planter’s Punch and the aptly named Rum & Coke. The heart of the Puerto Rican rum industry is located just a few miles outside of San Juan at the Bacardi Rum Distillery. Called “The Cathedral of Rum”, the Bacardi distillery is the world’s largest and has become a popular tourist attraction.

The Bacardi factory has set up guided tours to accommodate the throngs of tourists who visit, perhaps hoping for a sample of the finished product. Visitors must take a short but scenic ferryboat ride across San Juan harbor to the town of Cataño where the distillery is located. The tour usually begins at the Bacardi Family Museum where the history of the company and of rum-making in Puerto Rico is told. Then it’s off to the distillery itself, with its huge fermentation vats and automated bottling line. The end of the line for visitors is at the sight-seeing pavilion where – yes – tour members can sample Bacardi rum and browse the gift shop for products and souvenirs.