Bacardi & Company Limited Type Private company Founded Santiago de Cuba, Cuba (4 February 1862) Headquarters World Headquarters: Hamilton, Bermuda
USA headquarters: Coral Gables, Florida
Key people Eric Macias, Chairman;
Seamus McBride, President
Revenue US$ 5.5 billion (2007) Website bacardilimited.com
Bacardi is a family-controlled spirits company, best known as a producer of rums, including Bacardi Superior and Bacardi 151. The company sells in excess of 200 million bottles per year in nearly 100 countries. The company's sales in 2007 were US$5.5 billion, up from $4.9 billion in 2006.
Bacardi is headquartered in Hamilton, Bermuda and has a 16-member board of directors led by the original founder's great-great grandson, Facundo L. Bacardí. The President Bernard F. Ramírez and Co-President Charles M. Hernández, also play a large part in production and sales.
Facundo Bacardí Massó, a Catalan wine merchant, was born in Sitges, Catalonia, (Spain) in 1814, and emigrated to Cuba in 1830. During this period, rum was cheaply made and not considered a refined drink, one rarely sold in upscale taverns. Don Facundo began attempting to "tame" rum. After experimenting with several techniques he hit upon filtering the rum through charcoal, which removed impurities. In addition to this, Facundo aged the rum in oak barrels, which had the effect of "mellowing" the drink.
Moving from the experimental stage to a more commercial endeavour, he and his brother José set up shop in a Santiago de Cuba distillery they bought in 1862; that distillery housed a still made of copper and cast iron, and was in a building in whose rafters lived fruit bats.
The 1880s and 90s were turbulent times for Cuba and the company. Emilio Bacardí, Don Facundo's eldest son, was repeatedly imprisoned in a Spanish prison for (legitimate) suspicions of running a rebel financing and support network during the Cuban War of Independence.
Emilio's brothers, Facundo and José, and his brother-in-law Henri (Don Enrique) Schueg, remained in Cuba with the difficult task of sustaining the company during a period of war. The women in the family were refugees in Kingston, Jamaica. After the war and the US occupation of Cuba, "The Original Cuba Libre" and the Daiquiri were both born with Bacardi rum. In 1899 US general Leonard Wood appointed Emilio Bacardí mayor of Santiago de Cuba.
In 1912 Gerard Ransom travelled to Egypt where he purchased a mummy for the future Emilio Bacardí Moreau Municipal Museum in Santiago de Cuba, a mummy still on display. In Santiago, his brother Facundo M. Bacardí continued to manage the company along with Schueg, who began the company's international expansion by opening new bottling plants in Barcelona (1910) and New York City (1915). The New York plant was soon shut down due to Prohibition, yet during this time Cuba became a hotspot for US tourists.
In the 1920s, Emilio opened a new distillery in Santiago. During this decade, the art deco Bacardi building was built in Havana and the third generation of the Bacardí family was entering the business. Facundo Bacardí invited US-Americans (still subject to Prohibition) to "Come to Cuba and bathe in Bacardi rum." A new product was introduced: Hatuey beer.
Bacardi's transition into an international brand was due mostly to Schueg's "business genius"; Schueg "branded Cuba as the home of rum, and Bacardi as the king of rums" and expanded overseas, first to Mexico (1931), then to Puerto Rico (1936), and then again to the United States (1944).
Bacardi moved after-Prohibition production first to Puerto Rico (which enabled rum to be sold tariff-free in the U.S. after Prohibition), and then to Mexico. Those changes were accompanied by a new brand name: Ron Bacardi ("Ron" is the Spanish word for rum). Several trademark disputes went to court during this time regarding uses of the Bacardi name on rum produced outside of Cuba.
During the World War II years the company was led by Schueg's son-in-law José 'Pepin' Bosch. Pepin founded Bacardi Imports in New York City, and was named Cuba's Minister of the Treasury in 1949.
Portuondo and other Bacardí family members initially supported the Cuban revolutionaries, including Fidel Castro and the broader M-26-7 movement: Bosch personally donated tens of thousands of dollars to the movement, and acted as an intermediary between the revolutionaries and the CIA to assuage the latter's concerns. Family members, employees, and facilities were put to use by the movement and the company supported the revolution publicly with advertisements and parties. But their support turned to opposition as the pro-Soviet Che Guevara wing of the movement began to dominate and as Castro turned against American interests.
The Bacardí family (and hence the company) maintained a fierce opposition to Fidel Castro's revolution in Cuba in the 1960s. The Bacardí family and company left Cuba after it became clear that Castro was serious about his pledges for change; in particular, in nationalising and banning all private property on the island as well as all bank accounts. However, the company had started foreign branches a few years prior to the revolution; the company moved the all important Bacardi international trademarks out of the country to the Bahamas prior to the revolution as well as constructing a plant in Puerto Rico after the prohibition era to save in import taxes for rum being imported to the US. This helped the company survive after the communist government nationalised all Bacardi assets in the country.
Embittered Bacardi helmsman José Pepin Bosch bought a surplus B-26 bomber with the hopes of bombing Cuban oil refineries (the bold plan was foiled when a picture of the bomber appeared on the front page of The New York Times). He was also allegedly involved in the CIA plot to assassinate Fidel Castro; documents uncovered during congressional investigations into John F Kennedy's death bring to light a message outlining how he had plans to assassinate Castro, his brother Raúl Castro, and Che Guevara. The RECE (Cuban Representation in Exile) also receives funding from Bacardi family members.
More recently, Bacardi lawyers were influential in the drafting of the 1996 Helms-Burton Act which sought to extend the scope of the United States embargo against Cuba. In 1999 Otto Reich, a lobbyist in Washington on behalf of Bacardi Rum, drafted section 211 of the 1999 Omnibus appropriations act, a bill that became known as the Bacardi Act. Section 211 denied trademark protection to Cuban businesses products expropriated after the Cuban revolution, a provision keenly sought by the Bacardi family. The act was aimed primarily at Havana Club brand in the US, which had been registered by the Cuban government. Section 211 has been challenged unsuccessfully by the Cuban government and the European Union in US courts; however, the act has been ruled illegal by the WTO (August 2001). The US Congress has yet to re-examine the matter.
Bacardi and Cuba today
Bacardi drinks are not found in Cuba today. The main brand of rum in Cuba is called Havana Club, a formerly private company nationalised by the government. Drinks now made in the former Bacardi distillery are sold in Cuba under the name Caney.
Bacardi, despite having no business tie (in terms of production) to Cuba today, have decided to re-emphasise their Cuban heritage in recent years. This is mainly due to commercial reasons: facing increased competition in the Rum market from the now international brand Havana Club, the company concluded that it was important for sales to associate their rum with Cuba. TV adverts with slogans of 'Welcome to the Latin Quarter' are but one example of this. In 1998, under the distinctive bat logo, the phrase "company founded in Santiago de Cuba in 1862" was added.
Bacardi has faced criticism and legal problems for supposedly attempting to falsely convince consumers they were purchasing rum made in Cuba rather than just marking its heritage. Bacardi adverts in Spain, since 1966, had described a popular combination of rum and coke as "rum and coke". However, after 1998, it began to describe the drink as Cuba Libre – literally translated as "free Cuba" which is the original name of the drink and how it's mostly called in Latin America. In this instance, Bacardi faced a legal ruling from the Spanish Association of Advertising Users which forced the company to stop the advert. They concluded that it could "mislead the viewer as to the true nature of the product" as the advert contained so many pieces of Caribbean imagery, one might conclude it came from Cuba (Ospina p. 79).
Bacardi continues to fight a war in the courts attempting to legalise their own Havana Club trademark outside of the United States. Havana Club is owned by the Cuban government and has a business joint venture with the french company Pernod Ricard.
The Bacardi legacy lives on in Santiago and Havana through their grand buildings and historic significance. The Bacardi Building (Edificio Bacardi) in Old Havana is regarded as one of the finest art deco buildings in Latin America.
Bacardi has made several acquisitions to diversify away from the eponymous Bacardi rum brand. In 1993 Bacardi acquired Martini & Rossi, the famous Italian producer of Martini vermouth and sparkling wines. In 1998 the company acquired Dewar's scotch and Bombay Sapphire gin from Diageo for $2 billion. Bacardi acquired the Cazadores tequila brand in 2001 and in 2004 purchased Grey Goose, a French made vodka, from Sidney Frank for $2 billion. In 2006 Bacardi purchased New Zealand vodka brand 42 Below. Other associated brands include the US version of Havana Club, Drambuie Scotch whisky liqueur, Disaronno Amaretto, Eristoff vodka, B&B and Bénédictine liqueurs, and the Canadian alcopop Rev.
Despite focusing on the middle and lower end of the price spectrum, some Bacardi rum offerings have achieved a modicum of success at international spirit ratings competitions. For example, their eight-year añejo rum earned gold medals at the 2008 and 2009 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
Bacardi is also the only brand to feature the Mexican free-tailed bat as its icon or logo.
Despite the fact that many of Bacardi's offerings are aimed at the lower and middle-part of the price spectrum, Bacardi rums have been entered in a number of international spirit ratings competitions. Several Bacardi spirits have performed notably well. The Bacardi 8-year Ron Reserva, for example, received two gold medals and a silver from the San Francisco World Spirits Competition between 2008 and 2010. Proof66's aggregate score, which accounts for San Francisco competition outcomes as well as scores from other professional rating organizations, places the Ron Reserva in the First Tier of all rated spirits.
Chalk's Ocean Airways Flight 101
On 19 December 2005 Chalk's Ocean Airways Flight 101 from Fort Lauderdale, Florida to Bimini, Bahamas, with an unscheduled stop at Watson Island, Miami, Florida, crashed off Miami Beach, Florida. Sergio Danguillecourt, a member of the board of directors of Bacardi Ltd and a great-great-grandson of the rum company's founder Don Facund Bacardí i Massó, and his wife Jacqueline Kriz Danguillecourt were on board. There were no survivors.
United States headquarters
Bacardi vacated its former headquarter buildings on Biscayne Boulevard in Midtown Miami. Miami citizens began a campaign to label the buildings as "historic". University of Miami professor of architecture Allan Schulman said "Miami's brand is it's [sic] identity as a tropical city. The Bacardi buildings are exactly the sort that resonate with our consciousness of what Miami is about". In 2007 Chad Oppenheim, the head of Oppenheim Architecture + Design, described the Bacardi buildings as "elegant, with a Modernist [look combined with] a local flavour."
Mexico City buildings
Bacardi had architects Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe and Felix Candela design office buildings and a bottling plant for them in Mexico City during the 1950s. The building complex was added to the tentative list of UNESCO's World Heritage Site list on 20 November 2001.
- ^ Fact Sheet
- ^ Andrew Ross Sorkin (21 June 2004). "Bacardi to Buy Grey Goose,Stirring More Talk of I.P.O.". New York Times.
- ^ Bacardi & Company Limited Company Profile from Yahoo!
- ^ Our heritage: the early years from the company's corporate website
- ^ Gjelten, Tom (2008). Bacardi and the Long Fight for Cuba. Viking.
- ^ "Daiquiri". http://www.strawberry-daiquiri-recipe.com/strawberry-daiquiri-invention.php.
- ^ a b Charles A. Coulombe. Rum. Citadel Press.
- ^ Bacardi Limited: Our Heritage – Havana and Beyond. Retrieved 10 May 2011.
- ^ a b Bacardi Limited: Our Heritage – Prohibition and Innovation. Retrieved 10 May 2011.
- ^ a b c Rum and Revolution an August 2008 review of Bacardi and the Long Fight for Cuba (ISBN 978-0-670-01978-6) from The Washington Post
- ^ Hernando Calvo Ospina (2002). Bacardi: The Hidden War. Pluto Press.
- ^ The Helms-Burton Act from thinkquest.org/
- ^ Ann Louise Bardach: Cuba Confidential. Penguin books 2002. p.131
- ^ Caribbean Business: Bacardi wins round in Havana Club fight Retrieved 30 May 2011.
- ^ "Proof66.com Website". Archived from the original on July 15, 2011. http://web.archive.org/web/20110715123236/http://www.proof66.com/display.asp?t=rum. Retrieved 6 August 2009.
- ^ Proof66 Summary Page for Bacardi Ron Reserva 8-Year
- ^ A. E. Hotchner (1966). Papa Hemingway. Random House. ISBN 978-0-394-43990-7.
- ^ "Bacardi U.S.A. to take over BK's planned Coral Gables headquarters." South Florida Business Journal. Tuesday 8 May 2007. Retrieved on 2 October 2009.
- ^ "Miami weighs preserving iconic Bacardi buildings." Associated Press at New York Daily News. Tuesday 7 April 2009. Retrieved 3 October 2009.
- ^ Rousseau, Bryant. "In Conversation: Chad Oppenheim." Businessweek. 27 June 2007. 2. Retrieved on 3 October 2009.
- ^ "Bacardi USA Announces New Headquarters in South Florida." Retrieved 18 October 2010.
- ^ "Bacardi U.S.A. Marks Opening of State-of-the Art South Florida Headquarters." Retrieved 18 October 2010.
- ^ "Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe and Felix Candela's Industrial Buildings – UNESCO World Heritage Centre". http://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/1596/. Retrieved 18 April 2010.
- Gjelten, Tom. Bacardi and the Long Fight for Cuba: The Biography of a Cause (Viking: 2008).
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