As the 2nd best selling rum brand in the world after Tanduay, reviewing a Bacardi offering, more so their Carta Blanca, doesn’t seem necessary – but I’ll do it anyway.
Bacardy y Compania was founded in 1862 by Don Facundo Bacardi Masso in Santiago de Cuba. Cuba went through a few wars and the future of their rum industry wasn’t looking so bright, but with the US Prohibition (1920 – 1933) Cuban rum saw a rising in demand as US tourists were going to the island to get merry and a lot of the rum smuggled on the US territory was also Cuban.
Because Puerto Rico was exempt from most import duties (being an US territory) Bacardi built a distillery there in 1936 which later proved to be very useful. In 1959, right after the Cuban Revolution, the Cuban government nationalised, among others, the rum industry and all the distilleries were seized by the said government. That’s when the Bacardi family moved its operations to the Puerto Rico facility.
The reason Bacardi appealed to the public was clever marketing paired with its clean, crisp taste which was the result of column distillation and, revolutionary for rum at the time, the process of charcoal filtering after a period of ageing. This style was shortly copied, with various degrees of success, by other Cuban and Puerto Rican producers back then.
Bacardi was so well known after Prohibition that the words “rum” and “Bacardi” could be easily swapped. It ended up being a general term and it would be replaced with other rums in drinks even when the customer would specify Bacardi. For example The Bacardi Cocktail was a popular cocktail in the 1930s (a Daquiri with grenadine as the sweetener) and bartenders would use other brands in it despite the name. Such practices eventually led to Bacardi suing a bar and a restaurant from New York in 1936 for using other products in Bacardi drinks – they won and the court ruled that a Bacardi cocktail needs to contain the said rum.
Bacardi Carta Blanca is molasses based, a blend of light and heavy distillate from a multi-column still that have been aged from 1 to 3 years in ex-Bourbon casks in Puerto Rico (Puerto Rican rum has to be aged for at least 1 year in order to be classified as such) and then charcoal filtered for a clean colour and taste. Bottled at 37.5% ABV and free of additives as far as I know.
On the nose the ethanol notes are strong with this one. Cacao nibs, violette liqueur, red apples and a touch of white pepper. A very slight barbeque smokiness and stone fruits. Some coconut, vanilla and caramel. Not as clean as I was expecting.
On the palate feels very soft and the flavours are fading quick. Pisco, vanilla, lemon zest and plenty of ethanol. Green apples, white grapes and almond. It is quite watered down unfortunately. Some peach and charred oak. The finish is short with ethanol and a touch of pepper.
I know Bacardi Carta Blanca is viewed among the rum enthusiast circles as the vodka of rum, but the truth is I had worse (see my Pampero Blanco review). It has quite a bit of flavour to it considering it’s coming from one of the biggest selling brands in the world and, as a bartender, I enjoy working with it. A favourite cocktail of mine that calls for Bacardi and lends its flavour to it very well comes from the Savoy Cocktail Book and is called The Culross (one measure each of Bacardi CB, Lillet Blanc, Apricot liqueur and lemon juice, shaken and served straight up).
Don’t get me wrong, it has little complexity and it still misses a lot of body/oomph – the likes of Veritas would mop the floor with it, but at £17.50 a bottle it’s just so easy to dilute my coke with it.
Bacardi Carta Blanca score:
Value for money: 15/15