Bacardi is the world's largest privately held, family-owned spirits company; a producer of rums, including Bacardi Superior and Bacardi 151. The company sells in excess of 240 million bottles per year in 170 countries. The business is the fourth largest spirits company in the world: sales in 2000 were $2.7 billion USD. A number of planned stock market flotations have collapsed, the last in 2000.
Don Facundo, a wine merchant, emigrated from Catalonia to Cuba in the early 19th century. During this period, rum was cheaply made and not considered a refined drink, one rarely sold in upscale taverns. Don Facundo began attempting to "tame" rum. After experimenting with several techniques he hit upon filtering the rum through charcoal, which removed impurities. In addition to this Facundo aged the rum in oak barrels, which had the effect of "mellowing" the drink.
Moving from the experimental stage to a more commercial endeavor, he and his brother Jos� set up shop in a small distillery on February 4, 1862. Their first copper and cast iron still produced 35 barrels of fermented molasses per day. In the rafters of this building lived fruit bats. Hence, the Bacardi bat logo.
The 1890s were turbulent times for the company. Emilio Bacardi, eldest son of Don Facundo, was exiled from Cuba for anti-colonial activities and his eldest son was fighting as a Cuban Independence fighter in the rebel army. Emilio's brothers Facundo and Jos�, and his brother-in-law Henri Schueg, remained in Cuba with the difficult task of sustaining the company during a period of war. The women in the family were refugees in Kingston, Jamaica. After the Cuban War of Independence, and the American occupation of Cuba, "The Original Cuba Libre" and the Daiquiri cocktail were both born with Bacardi rum. In 1899, American General Leonard Wood appointed Emilio Bacardi Mayor of Santiago de Cuba.
In 1912, Emilio Bacardi traveled to Egypt where he purchased a mummy for the future Emilio Bacardi Moreau Municipal Museum in Santiago de Cuba. In Santiago, his brother Facundo M. Bacardi continued to meticulously supervise the training of the third generation of Family Master Blenders. Henri Schueg, meanwhile, began to expand the company, opening new bottling plants in Barcelona and New York City. The New York plant was soon shut down due to Prohibition, yet during this time Cuba became a hotspot for American tourists.
In the 1920s, Emilio opened a new distillery in Santiago. During this decade, the art deco Bacardi building was built in Havana and the third generation of the Bacardi family was entering the business. Facundito Bacardi was known to have invited Americans (still subject to Prohibition) to "Come to Cuba and bathe in Bacardi rum." A new product was introduced: Hatuey beer.
The 1930s brought a new bottling plant in Mexico City and a new distillery in Puerto Rico under the leadership of Ron Bacardi. Several trademark disputes went to court during this time regarding use of the Bacardi name on rum produced outside of Cuba. The company's leadership then fell to Henri Schueg, who managed to keep the family name on the bottles coming from Puerto Rico. Another case was won by Bacardi which allowed that "...a Bacardi Cocktail is only a Bacardi Cocktail when made with Bacardi rum."
After the Cuban Revolution, with Fidel Castro coming to power in 1959, the Bacardi company fled Cuba for the Bahamas. The new Cuban government took exception to the distillers and seized their remaining assets in Cuba. (It is claimed by Hernando Calvo Ospina that Bacardi financed anti-Castro groups during the 1960s, helped found the Cuban American National Foundation (CANF) in 1981, and supported the Helms-Burton Act of 1996.)
Ernest Hemingway mentions Hatuey beer in two of his works: To Have and Have Not and The Old Man and the Sea. In 1956, Bacardi held a festival in honor of Hemingway's winning the Nobel Prize in Literature.
- Bacardi, offical website
- Bacardi Limited, Yahoo! company profile
- Boycott Bacardi, criticism of the companyde:Bacardi
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