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Puerto Rico’s Sustainable Rum Culture

by Keith langston
Rum's long history with pirates

Did you know that the island not only produces some of the best rum in the world, but that many of the distillers use sustainable practices to craft their rum?

Rum's long history with pirates (Photo by Bryan Faust)

Puerto Rico has a long history with rum making, and these three distillers are creating a new era of sustainable drinking.

Did you know that over 70% of the rum sold in the US comes from Puerto Rico? And did you know that the island not only produces some of the best rum in the world, but that many of the distillers use sustainable practices to craft their rum?

This Earth Day, everyone will be focusing on ways to help the planet. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown just how fragile life can be, and in an odd silver lining it seems that this has really reinvigorated the calls for a sustainable future. The next time you buy rum, consider where it came from, how it was made, and the mission behind the distillers. Here are three Puerto Rican rum brands that are ushering in a new era of sustainable production.


DON Q

Barrel of Don Q rum (Photo: Chris Allan)

Don Q, founded by Don Juan Serrallés in 1865, was birthed after the creation of a sugarcane plantation. Since then, Don Q has used the fresh water that runs through the nutrient-rich Río Inabón river to craft the perfect rum. In the 2000s, Roberto Serrallés, a decedent of Don Juan, joined the family company after completing his PhD in Environmental Science. Since then, the company has developed a commitment to sustainability.

Now, Don Q offsets more than 50% of its annual oil usage through the use of biogas, which is a naturally-forming gas that’s created by the decomposition of organic material. Speaking of capturing gas…Don Q also does something that’s incredibly interesting and awesomely unique. During the rum’s fermentation process, CO2 is released. Don Q captures the CO2 and stores it in tanks, which it then sells at a competitive price to local soft drink companies. So, if you’re ever in Puerto Rico, your soda might get its fizz thanks to Don Q!

Don Q also has an extensive wastewater treatment facility. Any excess water leftover from the distillation process is filtered and stored. The leftover solids are used as a nutritious compost fertilizer, and the now-cleaned water is used for irrigating the property. Better yet, Don Q has since pledged $1 million dollars in the post-earthquake relief efforts on the island.


Casa Bacardi

the guest lobby of Casa Bacardi

Everyone knows about Bacardi. It’s one of the most famous alcohol companies in the entire world. Don Facundo Bacardí Massó began distilling in the 1800s. Since then, Bacardi has become the largest premium rum distillery in the world. They also have a dedication to sustainability.

Bacardi captures its solid waste, which it then uses as biogas to helps provide power to the distillery. Bacardi also reuses its water…however, in a much different way. The distillers have installed an ultraviolet ray filtration system, which hyper-purifies the water and makes it so clean that it can actually be reused in the distilling process. This water-saving initiative helps reduce Bacardi’s water usage by up to 22,000 gallons per day.

Casa Bacardi welcomes visitors from around the world who come to see where their favorite rum is crafted. Bacardi’s welcome center offers tons of information about the facility, the history of the company, and artifacts from the past. The welcome center is also 100% powered by two wind turbines. As a tropical island, every bit of sustainability helps keep the natural habitat pristine and biodiverse.

Bacardi also assisted in the recovery efforts after Hurricane Maria where they provided residents with food, water, charging stations, basic relief supplies, and daycare for kids during the rebuilding stages.


Ron del Barrilito

rum making

Aging the rum at Ron del Barrilito

in 1880, the rum maker, Ron del Barrilito, was established at the historic Hacienda Santa Ana, a sugarcane plantation. To this day, Ron del Barrilito still crafts its rum at the Hacienda, preserving the old way of distilling. Small batches, historical distilling tools, and a familylike team all create Peurto Rico’s most authentic and well-preserved rum brand. Drinking Ron del Barrililto will give you a taste of what rum was like in the late 1800s, as their process hasn’t changed since.

This small-batch method also lends itself to being very sustainable. The fruit and spices that are used in the rum-making process are grown right at the Hacienda and around Puerto Rico, leaving a very small carbon footprint for their transportation process. Growing their own produce also allows the team to handpick the best fruits and spices to be used in each barrel, producing an unparalleled quality. Excess crop from the Hacienda is often donated to the community to help those in need, proving that Ron del Barrilito isn’t just sustainable, but also humanitarian.

The rum itself is made using filtered rainwater that the Hacienda captures in giant tanks during heavy tropical rainstorms. This not only helps Puerto Rico remain more natural (by not pumping water out of rivers and streams) but it also means that Ron del Barrilito’s water supply is “off the grid” and provides a unique taste and quality to their rum.


La Factoria’s Mojito

Ok, so now that you’ve got some sustainable and authentic Puerto Rican Rum, it’s time to put it to good use. And what better way than with a classic mojito? La Factoria, a bar in Old San Juan, has lent us their recipe for the perfect mojito. And considering that La Factoria has been listed as one of the 50 Best Bars in the World for five years in a row, I think we can trust their judgment on drink making.

What’s the secret to their masterful mojito? Premium rum and pure, fresh ingredients. Don’t muddle the rum’s flavor with too many bells and whistles. Mojitos work best when they’re done in the simplest way possible, making the drink not only delicious, but extremely easy!

 


La Factoria Perfect Mojitos

Rating: 5.0/5
( 1 voted )
Serves: 1 Nutrition facts: 200 calories 20 grams fat

Ingredients

  • 2 oz of Bacardi Superior (or other high-quality Rum)
  • ¾ oz of Lime Juice
  • ¾ oz of simple syrup (water and sugar mixture)
  • 8 to 10 mint or peppermint leaves
  • A dash of Angostura (aromatic bitters)
  • Club Soda to taste

Instructions

In a highball glass, combine the mint leaves and rum and gently macerate the mint. Continue to add the rest of the ingredients, except for the ice and club soda until the end.

Add ice and the soda, and stir the ingredients, leaving the macerated mint leaves at the bottom of the glass.  Garnish your cocktail with a mint leave and lime wedge.

Notes

La Factoria, a bar in Old San Juan, has lent us their recipe for the perfect mojito.

Did You Make This Recipe?
Show us how it turned out! Tag us on Instagram at @PassportMag.

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