BACARDÍ's VP talks about the future of the rum industry, the company's latest collection and why there's a 'major misconception' of rum amongst consumers


Whether it's always in your go-to bar cocktail, reminiscent of college and early drinking years or an experience leading to one of the greatest, most enjoyable nights you have in your memory, BACARDÍ is one of those brands that everyone seems to have a story tied to — and with good reason.

BACARDÍ's total portfolio boasts over 200 brands and labels, and this summer, the largest privately held spirits company in the world rolled out a new collection called the BACARDÍ Premium Portfolio.

The collection consists of three expressions, (BACARDÍ Añejo Cuatro, BACARDÍ Reserva Ocho and BACARDÍ Gran Reserva Diez) two of which are brand new and one (the Reserva Ocho) which has been repackaged specially for the new collection.

All three of the rums are aged in true BACARDÍ fashion, with the secret ingredient being sunshine, as Ned Duggan, VP of Bacardi, explains:

“What sets BACARDÍ premium rums apart from other spirits is tropical aging – all of our rums are barreled and aged under the Caribbean sun, which allows the liquid to mature and age faster than most spirits distilled in colder regions. It’s a little-known fact, but we can recreate the same level of depth and character as a whiskey or scotch, which usually take 2-3x longer to age. It’s pretty incredible what a difference tropical aging makes!”

We chatted with Duggan about all things Premium Portfolio and got the scoop on why it’s sure to become everyone’s go-trio of the summer:

AOL: Give us the quick lowdown — what are the differences between the three new expressions in the collection (Añejo Cuatro, Reserva Ocho and Gran Reserva Diez)?

Ned Duggan: Summer is finally here and BACARDÍ is celebrating with the launch of two new premium rums, BACARDÍ Añejo Cuatro and BACARDÍ Gran Reserva Diez. These two beautifully crafted aged rums have been in development since 2015 – two years in the making! To celebrate the season, we’ve also repackaged our fan favorite, BACARDÍ Reserva Ocho, a rum blend that is inspired by the original recipe from the Bacardi family’s special reserve dating back to 1862.

AOL: How did the idea for launching a premium portfolio come about — what was the process in getting that ball rolling like?

ND: There’s a major misconception of rum out there – that we’re a spirit that can only be used in tropical drinks – but it’s so much more than that. Here at BACARDÍ, we had to think about how we would change that perception and inspire people to choose rum when they are looking for a beautiful sipping spirit or elevated cocktail. It was after the wildly successful launch of BACARDÍ Reserva Ocho several years ago, that we knew we had to invest in a well-rounded premium rum collection.

As you know, tequila has had an incredible success story and developed an ultra-premium segment within the spirits category. We see rum following that same trajectory. Through our new premium line of BACARDÍ rums, we’re privileged to begin and lead what we like to call the 'rum revolution'!

AOL: Who is the ideal consumer for this portfolio — do they differ from the standard Bacardi consumer?

ND: This is always a tough question because, to be honest, we’d love for all of-age consumers to enjoy and experience the new portfolio. More specifically though, we’re expecting our target consumer to fall within the 26-34-year age range – those who are already purchasing other premium spirits. We also believe that those who are existing fans of dark spirits, fans of rum, and consumers looking to dip their toes into dark spirits will all also enjoy trying the new premium line.

This isn’t a completely different consumer than that of our Carta (BACARDÍ Superior, Gold, Black and Flavors) line, however it is definitely someone who is looking for a more elevated drinking experience – someone who is ordering more bold and mature cocktails or sipping spirits.

AOL: How does the portfolio differ from anything BACARDÍ has done before?

ND: This is a huge year for BACARDÍ – the premium rums launch marks our most significant portfolio expansion since BACARDÍ flavors. These rums will be available globally and the scale at which we’re trying to reach new spirits enthusiasts is larger than ever.

Something we are really proud of, and in my opinion what sets BACARDI apart, is our aging statements on the bottles. This isn’t widely seen in the rum category, and as the leaders, we are taking a stand. It’s all in a broader effort to help set a precedent on defining “premium” for the entire category. Each of the numbers on the bottle – 4, 8 and 10 – mark the minimum age for the liquids in each bottle (this is different from some of our competitors).

We’re proud to say this is the boldest initiative in our recent history. From Superior to Limitada to the FACUNDO collection, BACARDÍ now has a rum for everyone!

AOL: What’s the best way to enjoy the different expressions in the portfolio — are they all best served straight up, some in a cocktail, a mix?

ND: Each expression can be enjoyed in a different way. BACARDÍ Añejo Cuatro is ideal for elevated cocktails such as the El Presidente or the Cuatro Mismo. BACARDÍ Reserva Ocho is best enjoyed neat, on the rocks or in an Ocho Old Fashioned. Finally, BACARDÍ Gran Reserva Diez is reserved for special occasions and should be sipped neat or on the rocks to fully experience the exceptional taste profile.