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SB meets… Otto Flores, Ron Barceló

Ron Barceló’s global head of brand ambassadors tells us about the company’s Rare Blends Collection.

Otto Flores, global head of brand ambassadors for Ron Barceló

What makes Dominican rum different from other rums?

Barceló is the only rum brand produced from the fermentation and direct distillation of 100% Dominican sugarcane juice. This nectar comes from Barceló’s own sugarcane fields, harvested in the Dominican Republic. This places us in a select group of producers of rum made from cane juice that does not exceed 10% of the world’s brands. Of this small sample only a few of us have our own cane fields, so we are talking about being part of approximately 5% of the brands.

What can you tell us about the Rare Blends Collection?

It is a trio of super-premium rums aged in the best Barceló Imperial rum reserves in barrels from unique regions. The three additions to the Barceló premium rum portfolio are: Barceló Imperial Porto Cask, double aged in ex-Bourbon barrels and in European oak ex-Tawny wine barrels; Barceló Imperial Maple which, after being aged for a decade in American white oak, is finished in selected cuts of maple wood; and Barceló Imperial Mizunara Cask, a spirit resulting from the ageing of Barceló Imperial’s reserves in rare Japanese oak. There is always a possibility for other additions in the future.

Which markets are driving growth?

Barceló has experienced constant growth in every market for the past three years. We achieved this based on our constant innovation, everlasting experiences through our Vive Ahora lifestyle campaign, and by strengthening alliances in strategic markets such as Italy, Germany, Peru, Chile, Dominican Republic, and the UK. Spain is Barceló’s main market, where Barceló Añejo has become the leading brand in the spirits sector in volume and value for the second year in a row. During 2022, Varma generated a sales volume of 1.31 million 8.4-litre cases of Barceló Añejo, worth €224m (US$245m), according to the IWSR. For the past four years, Barceló has been the most exported brand of its category globally, with aged dark rum annual exports of approximately 2m cases. Barceló is focused on expanding into Asia, especially China, as its goal is to continue growing globally.

Why did you decide to partner with Emporia Brands in the UK?

Passion, transparency, dedication and goal orientation are just a few of the characteristics that distinguish Emporia Brands, and that we, particularly, exalt over other potential allies’ attributes. This partnership promises an objective mapping of our opportunities in the UK, and a solid business plan to position Barceló in the mind of the consumer. In the UK, we need to work harder in consumer brand awareness. We are confident that with Emporia Brands we will cause a tipping point in terms of distribution and point of sales, mainly in the on-premise.

How do you plan to drive UK sales?

Mainly by making the product available country-wide based on a solid distribution plan, education about the products and the company’s value, followed by implementing ‘liquid to lips’ activations. Distribution, awareness, consideration and trial are part of our short-term objectives.

What are the biggest challenges facing rum? 

A few examples include: 1) Competition among other spirits, and against the lower-alcohol trend. 2) Education: The association with certain stereotypes, such as being associated with young people and as a spirit just for mixing. 3) The lack of a global denomination of origin. 4) Global economic challenges: fluctuating exchange rates, trade tariffs and supply chain disruptions.

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