As the capital city of the world’s leading producer of rum, San Juan is the perfect place to get more closely acquainted with the Caribbean’s favourite tipple. Top of your list should be Casa Bacardi, the “cathedral of rum”. Enthusiastic guides and multimedia exhibits introduce every facet of the rum-making process, including special “nosing” barrels of various Bacardi blends – suitably tempted, you get two free cocktails at the end of the tour and a shop selling discounted bottles of its best products. Bacardi’s main rival on the island, Don Q, offers free samples at Casa Don Q, opposite the cruise-ship piers, including the bestselling Cristal, the island’s favourite cocktail mixer. The Rums of Puerto Rico association also maintains a small bar at the main visitor centre in Old San Juan where, once again, free rum and knockout piña coladas are usually on offer Saturday to Wednesday. Real connoisseurs should enquire here (ask for Ahmed Naveiras) about tours of the Hacienda Santa Ana in Bayamón, where the Fernández family still makes the superlative Ron de Barrilito. This rich, dark spirit was created in 1880 and is aged in Spanish sherry barrels for a minimum of three years: many consider Barrilito to be the best rum in the world. Private tours are possible, but only through the tourist office. You’ll visit the ageing cellars, thick with the burnt, sweet aroma of sugar molasses, the rickety bottling plant and graceful windmill dating from 1827, which today acts as an office adorned with faded photographs and dusty, old bottles of rum. You’ll also see “La Doña”, or the Freedom Barrel, which was laid down in 1942 and will only be opened when Puerto Rico achieves independence – by which time it’s likely to have evaporated in the tropical heat.

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