Bacardi, long known for its low-priced, white rums to mix with cola or fruit juices during the hot summer months, is launching a limited edition line of high-end rums culled from the family's century-old private stock in the hope of changing the world's perception of its flagship spirit.
Bermuda-based Bacardi Limited, owns 200 spirit labels, including Bombay Sapphire gin and Grey Goose vodka. This month it began distributing 12,000 bottles of the sipping rums, some aged up to 23 years, in New York and Miami.
Unlike Bacardi's ubiquitous $15-per-bottle rums, the four in the Facundo Collection, named for Bacardi's founder and family patriarch Don Facundo Bacardi Masso, are meant to be served neat, with a splash of water or an ice cube.
"We have about 300 rums in our family's private reserve," said Facundo L. Bacardi, chairman of Bacardi Limited and the founder's great-great-grandson. "We've experimented with them for 150 years in a variety of different ways, but no one thought about commercializing them."
The Facundo collection includes four varieties, varying from Neo, an up to 8-year-old clear rum that sells for $45 a bottle, to the top-of-the-line rum - Paraiso - which is aged up to 23 years in White Oak barrels, emerging as a deep amber color and retailing for $250.
Stepping even further away from Bacardi's mostly commonly known rums, each comes in a heavy glass bottle adorned with images reminiscent of Bacardi's long history, including its signature bat logo or a glass relief of Havana's landmark Bacardi Building, the company's former Art Deco headquarters which was seized by the Castro regime in 1960.
The darker rums are "a step above what we associate with Bacardi," said Ed Hamilton, a Chicago-based rum importer and industry consultant. "Historically, Bacardi has neglected their aged rums while concentrating on their younger white and gold rums, which are the best-selling rums in the world."
The high-priced rums are not Bacardi's first foray into high-end aged rum, though whether they will shift the perception of Bacardi as a purveyor of party spirits to one of refinement remains to be seen.
The company distributes an $85, 12-year-old rum called Reserva Limitada sold only in Puerto Rico, where it operates a large distillery.
To celebrate the family's 150th anniversary the company released 400 bottles of a 20-year-old rum called Ron Bacardi de Maestros Vintage MMXII priced at $2,000 each.
Rum making begins with sugar cane juice, or more commonly molasses, the dark byproduct of