UK – Diageo, through its Europe subsidiary and Corporación Cuba Ron have formed Ron Santiago as a joint venture that will have exclusive global distribution rights to Cuban rum brand Santiago de Cuba.

Diageo said that the “second-largest premium Cuban rum”, Santiago de Cuba will have four core variants: Carta Blanca, Anejo, 11-year old and 12-year old. However, the brand will not be distributed in the US. 

With the new joint venture, Diageo is betting on the premiumisation trends that are driving growth of premium and above rum segments, outperforming luxury spirits.

Over the past four years, premium and above rum retail sales value has grown 12%, compared to the 3% overall category growth. Cuban rum brands account for 9% of the retail sales value of this growing segment globally. 

The premium plus rum segment in Europe, the key market for development of the Santiago de Cuba brand, is growing at 16%, ahead of the 9% growth of luxury spirits, Diageo said.

 “The joint venture with Corporación Cuba Ron is in keeping with our strategy to invest behind growth opportunities in premium and above brands,” said Dayalan Nayager, managing director, Diageo GB, Ireland and France.

“Consumers are looking for new and authentic experiences and working with Corporación Cuba Ron provides a great opportunity to expand our portfolio in segments of the rum category whose growth is being driven by premiumisation globally and in Europe.”

Juan Gonzalez Escalona, president of Corporación Cuba Ron, said: “We are proud to announce the creation of this joint venture, which will bring the award-winning Santiago de Cuba to consumers around the world.  

“More than just a rum, Santiago de Cuba was born in the city where the history and tradition of Cuban light rum originated. It is an expression of its people and part of our Cuban tradition and culture.

“We are looking forward to working with our partners to build the success of this premium rum outside Cuba,” Juan added.

The deal comes after Diageo recently announced an investment in the world’s first distilled non-alcoholic spirit, Seedlip.

Diageo through its accelerator programme Distill Ventures acquired a majority stake in Seedlip, a deal that counts as the first non-alcoholic brand acquired by Diageo through Distill Ventures.