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Photo by Joe Wilhelm Jr. - All of the Bacardi rum supplied to the United States is bottled in North Jacksonville. The process continues to flow smoothly now that the plant at 12200 N. Main St. has undergone equipment upgrades for more automation. Baca...
Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Jan. 3, 201212:00 PM EST

Bacardi and the bat: All Bacardi rum supplied to U.S. bottled in Jacksonville

by: Joe Wilhelm Jr.

Don Facundo Bacardi Masso purchased a small distillery in Cuba nearly 150 years ago and his legacy lives on through the Bacardi rum that is bottled in Jacksonville.

The Bacardi Bottling plant in North Jacksonville produces 45,000 cases of rum daily and supplies 100 percent of the Bacardi rum that is consumed in the United States.

From the small beginning in the distillery in Santiago de Cuba, the company has grown into Bacardi Limited whose brands now include Bacardi rum, Grey Goose vodka, Dewar’s blended Scotch whisky, Bombay Sapphire gin, Eristoff vodka, Cazadores tequila and Martini vermouth.

The achievements of the company and its 150th anniversary will be celebrated throughout 2012.

“We are planning to announce the 150th yearlong celebration on Jan. 11,” said Amy Federman, a spokeswoman for Bacardi Limited.

The plant has recently received some upgrades to its bottling line to make it a more automated facility and it is the headquarters for global product research and development for Bacardi.

The 92-acre property along North Main Street is home to the Bacardi Bottling Corp., which is a part of Bacardi Limited. It is the company’s largest bottling facility in the Americas region.

The company’s U.S. headquarters is in Coral Gables and its world headquarters is in Hamilton, Bermuda.

It is one of the 27 production facilities, including bottling, distilling, and manufacturing facilities, in 16 countries including the U.S., Puerto Rico, Scotland, Italy, France, Spain, Germany and Mexico. The Jacksonville plant also contributes to the 6,000 people Bacardi employs around the world.

The company’s products are sold in more than 100 countries around the world and it has prioritized expansion for the emerging markets of India, China and Brazil.

Bacardi said it will celebrate its successes and goals throughout the 150th anniversary and Bacardi’s trademark bat emblem will be prominently displayed during the celebration.

Company founder Don Facundo Bacardi Masso’s wife, Doña Amalia, suggested using the bat as the trademark for the new rum when she noticed a colony of fruit bats living in the rafters of the newly purchased distillery in 1862.

She was reminded of a legend she heard while in Spain in the early 1850s based on the legend that the bat symbolizes good health, fortune and family unity.

Her suggestion to make the bat the company’s trademark was pragmatic considering the high illiteracy rate in the 19th century. It marked a memorable graphic logo to become identifiable.

The bat mythology helped. Reports quickly spread across Cuba about Don Facundo’s new rum. Local storytellers attested that the bats brought good fortune and added magical powers to his rums.

After the repeal of prohibition, distilleries opened in Mexico and Puerto Rico. In the United States, the company was represented by Schenley Import Corp.

The CEO and controlling shareholder, Lewis Rosenstiel, argued that the bat represented a disagreeable image to the American consumer.

The family refused and today the bat is one of the most recognizable symbols in the spirits industry.

The bat appears on the label of every product carrying the family name.

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