Places To Visit In Puerto Rico
Barcardi, the worlds most popular rum brand, has a distillery located across the bay from Old San Juan. The distillery is a popular attraction, with tours available seven days a week. The area of San Juan is also a fantastic place for visiting bars and trying out the different rum cocktails on offer. Travelers also choose this location for its many restaurants where they can sample authentic Puerto Rican cuisine.
While Bacardi is the most famous label, Don Q is also a favourite amongst locals in Puerto Rico. Manufactured by the Serrallés family in the town of Ponce, you can visit the Serrallés Castle Museum where you can learn about the history of sugarcane during a guided tour.
Other distilleries that are open to the public include Hacienda Santa Ana and PitoRico .
It Was A Shock To Nobody That 6th Generation Puerto Rican Rum Maker Roberto Serralls Followed His Fathers Footsteps In The Rum Distilling Businessexcept Roberto Serralls
Young Serrallés sought a quiet life of academia after high school, earning a Masters, then a Ph.D. in Environmental Studies at the University of Oregon, where he planned to become a full-time professor. But when his dad, the former president of Puerto Ricos Destilería Serrallés, home of Don Q rum, invited his son to consult on environmental projects at the distillery, he found himself guided back into the family business. What began as a temporary consultancy developing a wastewater management program turned into a full-time position at Don Q in 2004.
During this time, Serrallés fell in love with everything about his familys rum business in a way that eluded him as a youth. He went on to have a stellar career with the distillery by immersing himself in every aspect of the business. After rising through the ranks, Serrallés landed as Vice President of Business Development and Corporate Affairs. But looking back, his proudest moments were his contributions to making distilling in Puerto Rico more environmentally sustainable and his role in elevating the entire category by helping develop a line of super-premium, aged rums.
Don Q Is Both Traditional And Unconventional
In order to perfectly complement rums sweetness, rather than adding excessively oaky flavors, Don Q ages in twice-used whiskey barrels. My biggest pet peeve is age claims, Serrallés told VinePair. He says that rum is the most democratic spirit, as its made in many places in the world, but where labeling conventions vary by country, it slants the playing field. If we take a 20-year rum and put a drop of a one-year rum in it, we have to call it a one-year rum, Serrallés explains, but were competing with people who can take a one-year rum, put a drop of 20-year in it, and call it a 10-year because its an average of both ages.
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Free Champagne At The Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel & Casino
The Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel & Casino is home to San Juans largest casino, with live entertainment, over 500 slots and 16 gaming tables. This isnt the only reason to frequent the attraction, however, as they also offer a free bottle of Champagne to anyone who checks in on Foursquare three times.
*Featured image courtesy of
*My trip to Puerto Rico was sponsored by Starwood. I was not required to write this post nor was I compensated in any way. All opinions are my own.
Caliche Rum Puerto Rico
Just like the Don Q 151°, the Puerto Rican distillery Serrallés with the Caliche Rum is aimed at the experienced rum lover or bartender. Don Q presents its clear rum, also called white rum, in a very exotic looking and at the same time simple 0.7 litre bottle. Its clear colour is achieved by filtering the rum after ripening. The engraving on the bottle shows the year 1865, when the Spanish owner of a sugar cane plantation, Juan Sebastián Serrallés, began with the first production of rum. After more than 150 years, Serrallés distillery rum is a magnificent masterpiece of the highest quality.
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Guide To Rum Tasting In Puerto Rico
Next time youre sipping on a mojito, a sangria, or piña colada, ask yourself this: where did the rum in my drink come from? More often than not, the answer is Puerto Rico.
With several big distilleries, this beautiful Caribbean island is responsible for over 70% of the rum sold in the U.S., making it the chief export. When combined, those distilleries bring up a cart of over 80 types of rum. From silver to golden and amber, spiced and dark, the versatility of the spirits offered on the island makes it easy to find one that is perfect for you.
Whether you like cognac, whiskey, or anything in between, all you have to do is look for the seal of approval: the Rum Standard of Rums of Puerto Rico.
The elaboration of rum is seeded in Puerto Rican history. Its production dates to the 15th century as a byproduct of the sugar cane industry leading the economy way back in the day when laborers discovered that mixing molasses with water and fermenting it produced a distilled spirit. Now, there are a few characteristics that Puerto Rican rums must have to be granted that approving seal of quality. Those signature distinctions are high quality molasses, a continuous distillation process, aged for a minimum of one year in a white-oak barrel, and it must be produced in Puerto Rico, the Rum Capital of the World.
Here are the top award-winning brands that have been sprucing up your drinks for generations:
Bottle your own Bacardí during a Rum Tasting Tour.
Things You Should Know About Don Q Rum
Don Q, a multigenerational family rum brand, prides itself on its Puerto Rican roots. The label, produced by Destilería Serrallés since 1865, claims such local titles as the oldest operating distillery in Puerto Rico, as well as the islands best-selling rum.
In 2006, Don Q became available in the contiguous U.S., and its been gaining momentum among premium rum drinkers ever since. Read on for eight more things you should know about Don Q.
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Why Go Rum Tasting In Puerto Rico
Rum can be made in any location where sugarcane is cultivated or imported. Most rum production takes place in the Caribbean and Latin America and Puerto Rico is responsible for making over 80% of all the rum that is consumed in the USA alone.
Puerto Rico is also home to five of the pillar brands of the industry Barcardi, Don Q, Palo Viejo, Ron del Barrilito, and Ron Llave. The Bacardi label is the most prolific and is sold in 175 countries worldwide. But even devoted Barcardi drinkers are often unaware of the whole story of how this rum came about, and what stringent production processes are used to craft the different rum products.
With the help and assistance of rum experts, you will learn about the characteristics that make Puerto Rican rum so special. You will also get to experience the unique flavors of rum varietals, including light rum or silver rum, amber run, spiced rum and dark rum. The art of rum making is a complex one, and well help you unravel the mysteries of this unique spirit in the rum capital.
Don Q Bottles The Flavors Of Puerto Rico
Don Qs current flavor roster includes Coconut, Lime, Mojito, Passion Fruit, and Pineapple. No added sugars are used, and the natural flavors are kept as Puerto Rican as possible. In one case, this meant using a Puerto Rican strain of passion fruit, which is sweeter than the one available in the continental U.S. You may notice the passion fruit on the label looks a bit different thats why.
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Overview Of Distilleries In Puerto Rico
There are many rum brands that hail from Puerto Rico, with more than fifteen of these in the Mayagüez area, and some of the best labels in Arecibo. Distillery tours are fantastic across the Caribbean, but many choose Puerto Rico because of the famous Casa Bacardi.
Bacardi is a brand of rum that is enjoyed all over the world, is recognized in any bar or restaurant, and in any language. Originally made in Cuba, Bacardi is deeply intertwined with the Caribbeans Colonial past. In 1910, Bacardi became Cuba’s first multinational company, opening a facility in New York and also in Barcelona, Spain. By the 1930s, Bacardi had facilities in Mexico and Puerto Rico. It is now the largest rum distillery in the world.
Other distilleries include PitoRico and Hacienda Santa Ana, as well as Don Q which can all be visited as part of a trip to the area.
Trigo Reserva Gran Aejo
One of the finest rums in the market, Trigo Reserva Gran Añejo is aged in oak barrels for at least 12 years in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico. Its profile delivers a unique woodsy flavor, full of character and body. This masterpiece is bottled in a limited-edition hand-blown decanter bottle suited for collectors. Its creation dates to the 1980s, but the timelessness it evokes make this ultra-premium rum a masterpiece on its own.
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When To Visit Puerto Rico
The best time to go to Puerto Rico is usually from mid-April to June, as this is just after the busy winter season has ended and before the rainy summer season really gets going. The wet season hits it peak in August and will last until November.
As well as high humidity, the wet season is much hotter which some may not find to be comfortable for sightseeing. However, thats not to say that wet season should be ruled out. This can be a great time to travel if you want to miss the crowds.
From December to March, the island is dry, hot and sunny. But this is the most crowded time, with holiday makers hitting the beaches.
Champagne Sabering At The St Regis Bahia Beach Resort Puerto Rico
At 6pm every evening, guests of the St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort, Puerto Rico, are invited to watch a Champagne sabering. During the ritual, which takes place outside for prime views of the beach, a sommelier uses an extremely sharp knife to uncork a bottle of Champagne. Following the ritual complimentary glasses are handed out.
The Champagne sabering isnt the only worthwhile booze experience at the St. Regis. Along with having a bar of fine single malt whiskeys, rare scotches and craft cocktails, patrons can sample local flavor through their signature Encanto Bloody Mary made with local ingredients.
As the Bloody Mary was invented at the St. Regis in New York, each property features their own unique take on the cocktail. The Encanto Bloody Mary features Puerto Rican aji picante, olives stuffed with plantains and a glass rimmed with crushed plantains.
Roasted grouper at Fern
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Sampling Cocktails Crafted By The Countrys Leading Mixologist
One top booze experience in Puerto Rico is sampling cocktails from the mixologist of the National Culinary Team of Puerto Rico, Roberto Rodríguez.
While the team sometimes hosts events throughout the country doing cocktail and meal pairings, you can also find Rodríguez at Restaurante Al Sur where he bartends.
Ask for a Refreshing Passion, which won first place in the tourism boards 2013 rum cocktail competition.
The drink features Don Q Pasión, orange juice, cucumber, cilantro, soda water and slices or orange and lime. Some of the other award-winning cocktails you can sample include the Tamarind Hill made with rum, tamarind and rosemary a Lolita crafted with Don Q Pasión, Don Q Limon, guava, pineapple, cranberry and grapefruit with a cava float and a Sunrise made with Don Q Pasión, Grey Goose vodka, homemade lime soda and cranberry.
The W Retreat & Spa Vieques Island is an ambient place for a drink after dark. Photo courtesy of W Retreat & Spa Vieques Island.
Limited Editions & Premium Rums
2005 Single Barrel: 100 percent light rum. Distilledin 2005. Casked at 65 percent ABV.
2007 Single Barrel: 100 percent medium rum. Distilledin 2007. Aged for nine years. Casked at 60 percent ABV.
2009 Single Barrel: 100 percent light rum. Distilled in 2009. Casked at 75 percent ABV in used Canadian whiskey casks . By Serrallés standards these were relatively young casks. The U.S. release is bottled at 40 percent ABV, while the European release is at 49.25 percent ABV.
Vermouth Cask Finish: A blend of light, medium andheavy rums. Aged for five to eight years. Finished for four to six weeks inMancino Vermouth Vecchio casks.
Sherry Cask Finish: A blend of light, medium andheavy rums. Aged for five to eight years. Finished for one year in an OsborneOloroso sherry cask.
Gran Reserva de la Familia Serrallés: Medium rum. Aged for twentyyears. Note: Only 1865 bottles were made. It celebrates the 150th anniversary of the Serrallés company making rum and is priced at $1865.
Having visited Destilería Serrallés, I have a new appreciation for the islands historical place in rum making. While some people choose to mischaracterize the islands rum as flavorless, the reality is far different. Puerto Rico now has plenty of great rums to excite the connoisseurs palate, and a bright future ahead of it.
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What Happens On A Distillery Visit
A visit to a distillery is not only a great way of learning more about your favorite spirit and having more appreciation and understanding for what you drink its also a superb history lesson. Like many spirits and distilled alcohols, rum has many stories and is an important part of local culture.
On our distillery holidays, clients will get a chance to learn more about where rum came from, how it was first made and how it is produced today. You can also enjoy a rum tasting masterclass, giving you all the knowledge you need to differentiate between different rum varieties. As well trying different premium rums, youll be taught to compare rums by sight, taste and smell.
Rum experts can also guide you on the best ways to taste rum, as well as recommend some of the cocktails or mixers that suit your palate.
Rum Experiences On The Island Of Puerto Rico
The rum capital of the world. Thats what Puerto Rico touts itself in its Rums of Puerto Rico campaign. Weve had the pleasure of visiting Puerto Rico on several occasions, but we decided to return to the island recently to explore its world of rum.
Rum Sign in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico
We did a little research prior to our visit and found that the rum brands produced in PR include Bacardi , Don Q, Ron del Barrilito, Caliche, Club Caribe and Trigo Reserva Añeja. Two we had heard of prior to our visit , but the others were new to us. We also learned that there are several characteristics that Puerto Rican rums must have to be granted that approving seal of quality. Those signature distinctions are high quality molasses, a continuous distillation process, aged for a minimum of one year in a white-oak barrel, and it must be produced in Puerto Rico. We were ready to start our rum journey, and off we flew to San Juan to begin our week of rum, relaxation and research.
I must admit, this type of research is quite enjoyable. We fit as much as we could into our week on-island and from that time, we compiled this list of suggested Rum Experiences on the Island of Puerto Rico. We will no doubt add more to the list after subsequent PR visits!
Ron del Barrilito and Don Q Cristal two of the Rums of Puerto RicoSign in front of Barrachinas Piña Coladas at in Old San Juan Bartender at BarrachinasCasa Melaza in Old San JuanPiña Colada at the Luquillo Kiosks
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The History Of Distilleries In Puerto Rico
The connection between rum, sugar and slaves goes back a long time, making rum distilleries an attraction not only for rum enthusiasts, but for serious historians. Sugar production is an integral part of Puerto Rico’s past, and the art of rum distilling was brought about by slaves who worked on the plantations across the islands.
The work on sugar plantations was incredibly tough, which was made even more grueling by the hot climate. Plantation owners used African slaves to meet their labor requirements, and this began a chain of trade that included a lot more than sugar.
Commercial distilleries started forming in Barbados, where rum was initially discovered, around the very early 1700s. Mount Gay Distillery is the oldest commercial rum distillery in the world, and is still open for business today in Bridgetown. Other Caribbean islands, including Puerto Rico, started to develop distilleries and rum had become hugely popular, including with Colonial America. It even became New Englands most profitable trade in the 18th Century as the number of distilleries increased. Rum was then used as currency to purchase more African slaves to work on the plantations as a way to support this new export.
A Brief History Of Serralls And Puerto Rican Rum
Our story begins in the 1820s when Sebastián Serrallés arrives in the Spanish colony of Puerto Rico. At this point in history, Caribbean sugar cane production had been going strong for nearly two centuries. Sebastián soon established a sugar cane estate in Ponce on the southern coast of the island, where Destilería Serrallés is still based today.
It was Don Juan Serrallés, Sebastiáns son, who led the family into the rum business in 1865 by purchasing a small French-made batch still topped with a short neck with several plates. Also around this time, Facundo Bacardi began distilling in another Spanish colony: Cuba. It was the start of many rum-related happenings connecting the two islands.
Around 1890, both Cuba and Puerto Rico acquired their firstcolumn stills, setting the foundation for the Spanish heritage style of rum,characterized by a relatively short molasses ferment, column distillation, blendingof light and heavier rums, and a lighter flavor profile when compared to potstill rums from Jamaica, Guyana and elsewhere. By 1897, there were 198distilleries on Puerto Rico producing over 1.6 million gallons of rum, most whichwas consumed locally. Compared to other Caribbean colonies, this was arelatively moderate amount at the time.
Those regulations still exist today. In brief, genuinePuerto Rican rum must be:
- Distilled and aged in Puerto Rico
- Molasses based
- Distilled in a continuous column
- Aged for a minimum of 1 year in American whiteoak barrels
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