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A drink with… Chiara Pennacchio, Ron Barceló

The global marketing director for Dominican rum brand Ron Barceló shares her thoughts on trends in the category and what makes her brand unique.

Chiara Pennacchio

*This feature was originally published in the November 2021 issue of The Spirits Business magazine.

How localised is the production process of Ron Barceló rum?

Ron Barceló is a Dominican rum that is considered an iconic brand, with production localised in the main sugarcane‐producing province of the country: San Pedro de Macoris, in the Dominican Republic. Our Alcoholes Finos Dominicanos distillery is there, as is the Ron Barceló production plant. Rum production is achieved under a 100%‐controlled process by the brand, guaranteeing the best quality of Dominican rum, from the sugarcane fields to the bottling of the final product. We are the only producer of Dominican rum that produces its rums from the fermentation and direct distillation of the sugarcane juice.

What are the trends in the rum category right now?

Spirits are leaning towards premiumisation, and Barceló rums are a part of this trend. Consumers are beginning to appreciate and demand the organoleptic properties of high-end dark aged rums and different cask-finished rums. Even if we have gained recognition among the rum producers, there is a lot of work to do for consumers to fully recognise the premium rum industry.

Also, at Ron Barceló we have a sustainability code to develop careful business activity with the environment, its resources and biodiversity. These values are communicated through Barceló Organic, our sustainably made rum. It is the first and only rum made from the juice of sugarcane grown in our own organic field and aged in new barrels. It is presented in packaging made from the residual fibre of sugarcane, with vegetable-ink text. Having become the first rum company in the world accredited as carbon neutral, in 2016, and having launched the first organic rum in the Dominican Republic in 2020, we are promoters of sustainability both locally and internationally. It allows us to set the pace for other rum producers in the world.

Are you looking to open additional production sites?

Being a single estate rum means that our entire production process takes place in San Pedro de Macoris, which gives us a competitive advantage because we enjoy one of the best climates for rum production, and it allows us to transmit the essence and origins of our brand in each bottle. For the time being, we will focus our efforts on expanding operations at home.

What are the benefits of producing rum using 100% sugarcane juice?

Sugarcane juice is the primary derivative of sugarcane, but it is also a fresher raw material than molasses. Advantages of using sugarcane juice include: traceability of our raw material during all phases of the production process, as we produce the juice directly from field to bottle and ensure it is free of added chemicals; 100% control of the production process, ensuring we can monitor and maintain high quality standards at every stage; and exclusivity, since less than 10% of the world’s rum production is made from fresh cane juice.

How is Ron Barceló working to promote the use of rum in cocktails?

The cocktail industry allows consumers to interact closely with brands and their products. Ron Barceló is developing and implementing initiatives both locally and in the different markets around the world to promote the use of rum in spirits, and rum competitions in particular, as well as direct support to bars, mixologists and bartenders.

What is Ron Barceló’s most popular product, and why?

Barceló Imperial is our flagship rum. It is crafted from the finest selection of Caribbean sugar cane, making it a unique rum. It is the traditional premium rum of the Dominican Republic and the most recognised among Dominicans, and its elegant presentation plus the quality‐to‐price ratio it exhibits makes it one of the best rums in the global rum market.

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