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Last call for free rum at Puerto Rico distillery

The drinks are no longer on the house at Casa Bacardi in Puerto Rico.
/ Source: The Associated Press

The drinks are no longer on the house at Casa Bacardi in Puerto Rico.

Foreigners will now have to pay $12 and residents $6 to visit one of the most popular tourist attractions in the metropolitan San Juan region, officials said Tuesday.

The seaside rum distillery was well-known for its free drinks and tours.

The new cover charge includes a welcome drink, a commemorative 12-ounce acrylic glass and a tour of the Bacardi Visitor Center, according to a statement by Casa Bacardi. Those who want a tour of the distillery, a sampling of four premium rums or a drink-confectioning course must pay an additional $23.

Casa Bacardi officials said they also plan to renovate their facility and revamp their drink menus.

Mari Jo Laborde, a spokeswoman for Puerto Rico's tourism company, said Bacardi officials have already met with tour operators and cruise line officials to notify them of the changes.

"It's one of the most important tours for us," she said. "They didn't consult us, but they did inform us about their plans. It's a private company and they take their own financial and strategic decisions."

More than 250,000 people a year visit the Bacardi distillery, where more than 83 percent of Bacardi rum is produced.