The Bacardi family – and its rum company – was expelled from Cuba in 1959 following the country’s revolution, led by Fidel Castro. Since then, the US authorities have imposed an embargo on the country in protest against the revolution. Bacardi has subsequently set up a head office in Bermuda, a distillery in Puerto Rico and other operational offices in Miami.
US president Barack Obama has long been thought to be keen on ending the embargo. Speaking to just-drinks at his company’s Puerto Rico facility, Joaquin Bacardi confirmed that the firm will return to Cuba in some capacity at the earliest possible opportunity. “We are hopeful that the facilities (Bacardi owned before the revolution) that exist in Cuba will be returned to us,” he said.
“We have all the documentation to prove that that property is ours. “Because that property has been abandoned for so many years – although it is being operated to produce other rums – we know that the conditions of that operation are very poor; they don’t maintain it very well.
So, it’s going to require a significant capital investment.” Joaquin Bacardi, who is a member of the fifth generation of the family that set up the company, flagged that it is unlikely that Bacardi would produce all of its namesake rum portfolio in Cuba, if the embargo is raised.
“We have a lot of (distilling) assets around the world,” he said. “It’s going to take a balance between what products should come out of Cuba and what products should come from our existing facilities – there will likely be a combination of those.
“Rest assured,” he added, “when the embargo lifts, Bacardi is going to have a presence in Cuba again some day. There is absolutely no question of that.” The Cuban Government, through its Cuba Ron unit, jointly owns and produces the Havana Club rum brand in the country with Pernod Ricard.
The two spirits companies have been in long-running legal disagreement over the Havana Club trademark, with Bacardi selling a rum by the same name in Florida. Pernod and Cuba Ron own the trademark in almost all markets outside the US.