Founded in 1862 in Cuba by Don Don Facundo Bacardí Massó, Bacardi has revolutionized the sale of rum throughout the world, not only by creating a rum that could be drunk by people that weren't sailors but also creating an innovative marketing strategy that has caused rum to be one of the world's most popular spirits.
Facundo entered the liquor business as a wine merchant, but quickly turned his attention to increasing the quality of the rums available on the market. He experimented widely with different processes to achieve this, eventually discovering that filtering the distilled beverage through charcoal and aging in barrels would produce a smoother, more mellow drink.
Bacardi soon went into production, purchasing his first distillery on the 14 of February 1862. It is here, according to corporate legend, that Bacardi's bat device was developed, as a family of fruit bats lived in the rafters of the building. Regardless, sales rapidly increased as people discovered Bacardi's unique spirit.
Production slowed during the 1870s as war raged over Cuba due to its conflict with Spain, though fortunately no property of the business was damaged in the fighting.
The success of the business continued to grow throughout the early 1900s, with the company expanding its operations by purchasing sugarcane fields and additional distilleries. It is also during this period that the company intended to expand international with its product, originally targeting the United States. Prohibition stood between this goal, and Bacardi would not expand substantially until it was repealed in 1933.
Once the market once again became available, Bacardi immediately expanded its distribution into the US, and became an immediate success with the Americans. There was a financial cost of this success however, Bacardi faced import duty tax of nearly $1 a bottle, however the company was quick to act by opening a distilling facility in Puerto Rico, which was considered US soil, and therefore attracted no tax. Sales continued to prosper.
Throughout the 1940s, Bacardi's success was largely driven by the explosion in popularity of mixed drinks on the US market, with the Cuba Libre (Rum & Coke) attracting a huge following. However, this run of success stalled when whiskey was reintroduced into the United States, with sales volumes of Bacardi dropping by 47% in a single year. Due to this dramatic slow down, the company introduced some of its first marketing campaign, some of which appealed directly to blacks and hispanics, and being noteable by comparing the calories of a Daiquiri to a glass of milk. These measures helped to save the brand's market share in the US.
Castro's rise to power in Cuba played a major role in the modern day Bacardi. Like many businesses, all Cuban operations where seized by the government. Due to the company's expansion into other regions, accompanied with a variety of alternative distilling facilities, the company was able to continue - and family members soon reformed the business in 1960.
Despite all of these difficulties, Bacardi's volume of sales continued to rise, reaching 2.6 million cases of the brand being sold in 1970. Throughout the decade, Bacardi partnered with many soft drink companies, most notable Coca-Cola to further publicize its use as a mixer. While this made Bacardi popular with the public, it has drawn critics from the rum industry most vocally Thierry Gardère, maker of Haitian rum Barbancourt who has repeatably commented:
They always advertise it as mixed with something else.
By 1990, Bacardi was selling over 8 million cases per year and in 1991 introduced the revolutionary (yet popularily critised) Bacardi Breezer. Gaining large market share in the teenage market, Bacardi Breezer's success prompted a flood of similar Ready to Drink varieties to compete for the teenage drinking market.
Throughout the 1990s, Bacardi began to diversify its interests into other liquor business's acquiring Martini & Rossi in 1992, Dewar's scotch and Bombay Saphire gin in 1998. In 2004 Bacardi made their largest acquisition, purchasing Grey Goose vodka for $2 billion. This purchased was followed up with the acquisition of 42 Below in 2006.
While having a varied company history, and surviving many threats on its very existance, Bacardi continues to be owned by decedents of its founder, making it the largest privately owned liquor company in the world along with Bacardi being the most popular spirit brand in the United States.
- Bacardi Superior
- Bacardi Oro
- Bacardi Black
- Bacardi 151
- Bacardi Añejo
- Bacardi 8
- Bacardi Reserva Limitada
- Bacardi Big Apple
- Bacardi Cóco
- Bacardi Razz
- Bacardi O
- Bacardi Limón
- Bacardi Grand Melon
- Bacardi Vaníla
- Bacardi Breezer