Fábrica de Ron Bocoy
The most intriguing site in Cerro is Fábrica de Ron Bocoy (Máximo Gómez #1417, e/ Patria y Auditor, tel. 07/870-5642, bocoy [at] tuhv [dot] cha [dot] cyt [dot] cu, Mon.–Fri. 7 a.m.–5 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m.–3 p.m.), a distillery that makes Legendario rums and liquors. Bocoy once manufactured the choicest rum in Cuba, intended solely for Fidel Castro to gift to notable personalities. An example of the special libation (packaged in a bulbous, earthenware bottle and set inside a miniature pirate’s treasure chest labeled La Isla del Tesoro, or Treasure Island) is on display in the small upstairs museum, which also boasts an original 19th-century copper distillery.
The vaults contain great oak casks stacked in dark recesses. Free tours are offered.
The distillery occupies the former home of the counts of Villanueva. The two-tone pink facade is decorated with four dozen cast-iron swans marching wing to wing, “each standing tall and slim, its long neck bent straight down in mortal combat with an evil serpent climbing up its legs to sink its fangs,” wrote James Michener, who chose this building as a setting in his novel Caribbean. Hence the building’s colloquial nickname, Casa de Culebras (House of Snakes). The swans were a symbol of wealth that the snakes were meant to guard.
© Christopher P. Baker from Moon Cuba, 5th Edition