10/08/18

Summer in San Juan with Bacardí

This tropical heat wave rolling through Los Angeles has me reminiscing about my time in San Juan this Summer with Bacardí.  I’ve spoken about the rich history of Bacardí and what makes this rum different from other spirits in an older blog post (here). When I visited Casa Bacardí, we took a closer look at the brands premium line up: Bacardí Añejo Cuatro (4), Bacardí Reserva Ocho (8), and Bacardí Gran Reserva Diez (10).  

We arrived to the beautiful La Concha hotel in San Juan to prepare for our welcome dinner hosted and prepared by Chef Manolo López, with David Cid, Master of Rums, walking us through a detailed tasting of the Premiums.  We began with Cuatro, barrel-aged for a minimum of four years, with notes of mild vanilla, cloves, honey, and toasted oak. Each rum had a special cocktail pairing, and Cuatros smoothness was just so perfect for an El Presidente. Our Boricua Meze family-style dinner was prepared with local produce and meats.  A standout for me was the Lechón a la Vara- whole roasted pig. After main courses, we continued our tasting with Ocho. Ocho is a favorite of mine with notes of butterscotch, nutmeg, and dried apricots. The recommended pairing is actually my favorite: an Old Fashioned; I also enjoy this on the rocks. Post dessert, we finished our tasting with Gran Reserva Diez.  Diez is barrel-aged for a minimum of ten years, and best served neat- also my preferred choice. Diez has notes of banana and pear balanced with caramelized vanilla and oak. We closed our dinner with traditional Bomba music and lessons by a local group. It was so much fun engaging with the dancers and partaking in this age old Puerto Rican tradition.

Our second day in PR was an adventurous one hiking to the bat caves of The Cabachuelas. The bat is an integral part of the Bacardí brand as their iconic logo, so we were excited to step into their habitat and learn about the ways they enrich their ecosystem and add to the flora and fauna of the land.  After Hurricane Maria last September, bat populations diminished to very low numbers, but are now finally rebuilding to continue the balance and life cycle of the rich forest. Our afternoon was spent with amazing drinks, local food, and tons of conversation. We returned to our home base at La Concha, and spent the next few hours exploring the historic Old San Juan. Streets were lined with blue cobblestone, and facades decorated in multi-colored goodness. We stopped in some local shops to do some shopping and support small business. We took a coffee break in the central promenade and enjoyed some light music, amazing sunset, and many families doing the same.

On our final day in San Juan, our group drove over to Piñones- a local municipality of Loiza, to help with beach clean-up.  Many areas in Puerto Rico were devastated by Hurricane Maria, and since, the Bacardí group has committed over 2.5 million in disaster relief for the citizens of Puerto Rico.  We met some members of COPI- Corporacion Piñones se Integra- who discussed the efforts their making on the community level as well as take our second bomba lesson. I was so happy to partake in this element of community service and lend a helping hand.  Taking action is something I am very keen on, and glad to see the Bacardí group doing so much outreach in the country. We celebrated new friendships over our farewell dinner at Santaella. Many cocktails were served over smiling faces and full bellies. Truly honored to meet so many new people, and learn so much more about Bacardí’s roots.

Below are some photos we shot throughout our couple days in San Juan.

In the aging room surrounded by Bacardí Rum barrels.

View from our room at La Concha Resort

Entering the Bacardí Factory.

Mofongo!!!

Exploring Old San Juan

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