The Brugal Experience

The journey started early in the morning from Santo Domingo. We met at the airport to catch the Brugal plane to Puerto Plata. One hour in the air and we were there – at the birthplace of Brugal rum. It was a great trip filled with history, details and rum.

First stop of our visit was the visitor center. In front of it you see a wooden wagon used to transfer cut sugarcane juice to the factory. Interesting is that it is still used in some parts because of the difficulty of the terrain.

Right next to it a trapiche (molino, prensa or also called sugarcane press) we get the explanation that it was the first mechanism to extract sugarcane juice in big quantities. It was used before 500 years and moved by animals like horses, donkeys, oxes. See my article on types of sugarcane mills.

Brugal does not own any sugarcane fields, but buys it from the local producers. They call it 100% Dominican due to the fact that everything they use for the production of this unique rum is made in DR.

As we were told they had a distillery in Puerto Plata but the sugarcane fields were moved to South-East part of the was the distillery. This was an economicly more logical choice for them then moving the melassa to Puerto Plata. Its more complicated to transport melassa than alcohol. Both sugarcane fields that are in the area of Puerto Plata are closed for more than 15 years.

All the alcohol is produced in San Pedro de Macoris on the south part of DR. Their distillery produces 75000 litres of alcohol daily 7 days a week. It is closed only 2-3 days in a year due to maintenance. It is considered one of the cleanest alcohols.

They have 6 storage tanks in the distillery each with a capacity of 1 million gallons for  the storage of melassa. They save up the molasses from the time of the “zafra” (duration of 4-5 months) for the period when there is no sugarcane.

Three trucks from the distillery filled with 95% alcohol arrive daily to Puerto Plata. When diluting it to 65% (barrel strength) they use water from the mountains of Puerto Plata. The water goes through different filters prior to using with rum (carbon filtered, Despenarlizador (extracts the minerals from the water) so it doesn’t influence the final taste of the aged rum. They can store 1.7 million gallons of water. The PH is of the water is lowered to the one of the rum so no other reaction is triggered because of the water.

It’s the barrel who has the main role in this production. Barrels are from Amarican Oak which were first used to age Bourbon. Depending on the “aging type” the barrels are used approximately 18 to 20 years. Explaining the “aging types”, as they state, they have 2 different types: one used for “old aged alcohol” from 3 to 8 years of aging. The barrels are in horizontal position so both ends of the barrel stay wet and don’t deform. More oxygen gets inside for the oxidation process. The other type is “young aged alcohol” in a range from 1 to 3 years which stay in vertical position. Because of the short aging period even though in vertical position the barrel does not lose form. Every barrel has a medium toast which gives the characteristic notes to the Brugal rum.

Brugal has 14 warehouses. 7 in the blending facility of Brugal and 7 located in the areas of the old distillery outside of Puerto Plata. Approximately 250.000 barrels. Every storage area has a capacity of 18.000 barrels. Because of evaporation rate (8 – 12%) the maximum aged rum in Brugal is 8 years. Rums like Brugal Siglo de Oro or Brugal 1888 are double aged which are 12 to 14 years.

Every rum is a blend of rums of different ages. Every bottle of Brugal has a rum that has been aged minimum 1 year as the Dominican rum law states.

Interesting facts:

  • Production of 5 million boxes of Brugal yearly
  • 8-12% evaporation rate a year
  • 30% of the production goes for export and 70% stays in the country
  • Brugal has 90% of the market share in the Dominican Republic

Recently they launched a new product called Brugal XV. A double aged rum (american oak and sherry barrel) really smooth and full of flavour. Will bring you more info soon.

What is your Brugal experience?

  • Bob Davies

    Great job, when are we going to make it to San Pedro de Macoris?

    • Thanks Bob, I hope soon! We will have to talk to Rob to retouch the subject..

  • Dave

    Fantastic article and video Pavol.  I really like the video titled L Molienda too.  Thank you.

    • Thank you Dave! The molienda video is really nice…got lucky finding it. I heard there is one antique mill in San Pedro..already planning a trip.

  • Look forward to trying the XV with you!

  • Frank Diaz

    I’m planning on a trip to the Brugal Factory. It’s seemingly difficult to find information on tours. How did you arrange your tour? Do you have any recommendations for other places to visit while I’m down there?

    • Send me your date will confirm with the aging facility in Puerto Plata. Please send it through the contact page.

      • Frank Diaz

        I’m flexible. I’ll be down there from May 1-6, 2015.