Q&A: Raising spirits with Facundo Bacardí
The IWSC’s 2018 president Facundo L. Bacardí has been chairman of the board of Bacardí Ltd since 2005, and a director since 1993. He is the great-great-grandson of company founder Don Facundo Bacardí Massó, and a fifth-generation family member. Here, he tells the IWSC about the most exciting spirits innovations in recent years, how the trade can better communicate with consumers, and what makes the IWSC stand out from its competitors.
What attracted you to the role of IWSC president?
The high-quality standard that the IWSC demands and celebrates is close to my heart. My great-great grandfather had unique passions for crafting superior liquids and my family is committed to honouring his legacy by ensuring his creation will remain the highest-quality rum available for purchase. The IWSC’s activities and focus are similar in many ways.
How valuable has your success in the IWSC been to the development of your brands?
By winning an award we have an incredibly valuable asset that assures the quality of our products. Our flagship Bacardí rum is “the most awarded rum in the world”, but we don’t submit it to just any competition because the quantity of those awards is only as good as the quality. The IWSC sits among the top shows on our short list of must-have competitions.
What have been the most exciting spirits innovations in recent years?
Focusing solely on rum, the recently renewed passion for premiumisation stands out. In the past year, we started a shift to make sure we re-establish what rum really means. To do so, we are embracing our heritage and origins in an external way by being a true rum and not chasing fads. Premiumising aged rum is in the best interest of the entire rum category that Bacardí, as the leader, is responsible for.
How can the trade better communicate with consumers?
Many brands have invested heavily in platforms that drive education with the aim of making sure the trade understands what’s in the bottle, and who are the people behind it. On the other hand, brands continue to invest in reaching consumers with messaging that helps them connect with the brand, be it through culture, authenticity, heritage, or the drinking occasion. I see opportunity in the creation of better bridges that connect these two worlds. We need to ask: how can the one-on-one experience of a sommelier with a guest at a restaurant be amplified to reach more consumers? How can we increase the opportunities for cross-exposure between these two groups so that we can add value to the at-home experience for consumers?
How will you use your experience to support and strengthen the IWSC?
My experience will add value by amplifying and broadening the IWSC brand name in key regions where consumers may not be as in tune with what the IWSC is, or are not fully aware of its scope beyond the world of wine. In other words, increase the value of the IWSC for the distilled spirits world.
What can we expect to see from Bacardí in the year ahead?
More of our internal spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship. We have been working across our entire portfolio of brands to make a genuine impact on culture and to do that we need to live it, breathe it and be part of it. Most importantly, there is a burgeoning dark-rum category we are nurturing. The trade and consumers are eager to discover new and engaging premium rums. In 2018, we will continue to build upon our current success by redefining our approach to Bacardí rum – from its look and feel, down to how we’re approaching rum education.
- “As a start-up brand you focus hard on achieving credibility and creating awareness. Winning Gold Outstanding and the Mezcal Trophy provided us with a level of credibility and exposure that we simply could not have achieved on our own. The awards helped secure key listings in Harvery Nichols and Selfridges and certainly played a significant part in opening up dialogue with potential U.S importers and ultimately securing one. I thought hard about which competition to enter and what the return on that investment would be. I can say with absolute confidence that the IWSC was worth every penny.”David ShepherdFounder & Director, Corte Vetusto
- “IWSC is a very important competition to us in terms of showing consumers our quality. It's one of the competitions that we definitely enter on a yearly basis.”Ian ChangMaster Blender, Kavalan Distillery
- “Out of all of the awards, the IWSC is probably the most prestigious and most honest awards. You choose your judges very well and they're very good, honest, decent people. They do it for the love of the industry.”Sukhinder SinghMD, The Whisky Exchange
- “The IWSC is a very prestigious competition. The prestige is a great thing to be able to communicate to our customers who have great respect for it.”David PorterOperations & Buying, Lea & Sandeman
- “The IWSC represents everything, without a doubt. There's no better competition in the world where you can judge yourself not just against your countrymen but against the rest of the world.”Andy AndersonWinemaker, Takapoto Estate
- “Fantastic company and fantastic award . . . In the wine industry, having an award like this is such an accolade.”Claire GriffithsCommercial Director, Vina Cono Sur
- “It's one of the greatest international awards you can get. It's similar to an Oscar, if you like.”Lenz MoserWinemaker, Yantai Changyu Pioneer Company
- “Because of the number of international judges that are tasting the wines and the number of wines that are being entered, it’s a great privilege for us to receive this award. The history of the competition, the standing that it has amongst the international wine world and certainly amongst one’s peers, to be able to get an award at the IWSC means a lot. There are a lot of competitions around the world – this probably represents the top award you could get as a winemaker.”Gary & Kathy JordanWinemakers, Jordan Wine Estate
- “It’s a great honour to win especially as nowadays people are focusing on the quality not just the numbers, so it does mean a huge amount getting recognition from an institution as well sought after as the IWSC.”Chris BlandyOwner, Blandy's Wines
- “This will be a recognition that will help in building the brand further, and building its prestige around the world.”Victor FuentesDirector General, El Coto de Rioja S.A
- “The IWSC is a well renowned, well looked up to standard and a symbol of premium products so it’s a great achievement to win any award.”Andrea FreeboroughCellar Master, Nederburg Wines