As I was at first, you may get sidetracked by the brand Bacardi. But as just with any spirits house that may be known for churning out mass-produced spirits, particularly one like Bacardi that has been around for over 150 years formerly located in Cuba (with US headquarters based in Miami and international headquarters in Bermuda), they have a special selection of barrels aging for years.
In 2013 they released their The FACUNDO Rum Collection in tribute to Bacardi’s original master blender, Don Facundo Bacardi Masso, by his great-great grandson, Facundo L. Bacardi. The family decided to share some of their premium barrels in this collection which was conceptualized at their 150th anniversary party. It was released in Miami and NY last year (nowhere else in the world) and this fall in California. SF and LA are now the only other two cities in the world getting all four of these rare rums.
It wasn’t until I tasted the rums, however, that I experienced the uniqueness of them both for Bacardi and in the rum world. As you can see from the photo above (courtesy of FACUNDO Rum), these are luxury, sipping rums and the striking, thoughtfully designed bottles reflect this. Manny Oliver, the head master blender who has worked for Bacardi for nearly 40 years, was here in SF walking me through the rums, explaining that some of the 300 hand-selected barrels used in these blends, being over 20 years old, have lost so much “angels’ share” due to Caribbean heat that there’s as little as 5% of the rum left in the barrels, contributing to the scarcity of the liquid.
Hear are my thoughts on all four, which you can look for at rum bars like Smuggler’s Cove in SF and La Descarga in LA:
Seeking to be a premium white sipping rum, NEO (meaning new) is a blend of rums aged up to eight years, then filtered (second charcoal mellowing) prior to blending to remove color, although there is still a gentle blond hue. It’s smooth but not flavorless. Almond and floral notes shine, the rum bright with fruity wood. It tasted clean and bracing in a Rum Old Fashioned.
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If forced to choose, EXIMO (meaning “to free” in Latin) may be my favorite of the 4, both in taste and its stately bottle designed to represent the sun’s rays. It’s a more medium-bodied dark rum the only one in the Collection blended before aging in a barrel for 10 years. It’s layered and buttery, complex with earthy dark chocolate and a lingering nuttiness.
EXQUISITO means exquisite and this was the most elegant and even softest of the four rums, though a dark rum. It’s a blend of rums aged seven years as well as some aged 23 years. The final blend is then finished in sherry casks, imparting sherry-like notes of raisins, spice and toasted nuts.
PARAISO (meaning “paradise”) blends the Bacardi family’s oldest and finest barrels of rums aged up to 23 years, then blended, then rested in French XO Cognac casks, some more than 60 years old. The result is medium-bodied, refined rum that exhibits plenty of almond, oak, chocolate, toasted caramel and nuts.