Bacardi Limited mourns the loss of Manuel Jorge Cutillas, 81, the first Chairman of the group of Bacardi companies that formed Bacardi Limited in 1992. Cutillas, a fifth-generation Bacardi family member, was the great-great grandson of the Company’s founder, Don Facundo Bacardí Massó.
“The Bacardi family and employees are deeply saddened at the passing of Manuel Jorge—one of the icons of our Company. Manuel Jorge—through his drive and leadership—helped shape the global company that we have today. His pursuit of growth for the Company took Bacardi from solely being a rum company to a diverse portfolio of premium brands which established us as a global player,” says Facundo L. Bacardi, Chairman of Bacardi Limited. “His dedication to the dynamic Bacardi culture of passion, excellence and entrepreneurial spirit will be greatly missed.”
Most notably, Cutillas was a driving force behind the 1992 formation of Bacardi Limited, consolidating five separate strategic operating units of the Company (Bacardi International Limited – Bermuda; Bacardi & Company Limited – Bahamas; Bacardi Corporation – Puerto Rico; Bacardi Imports, Inc.– United States; and Bacardi y Compañía S.A. de C.V. – Mexico) into a single company, shaping Bacardi into the world’s largest privately held spirits company.
He also was integral in the Company’s first acquisition—that of the Martini & Rossi Group in 1993. Bacardi went from selling solely its namesake BACARDÍ rum, to a multi-branded portfolio adding vermouths, wines, cognac, Scotch whisky and liqueur. With that landmark acquisition, Bacardi doubled in size to become one of the five largest premium spirits companies in the world.
During his 45 year career with Bacardi, Cutillas held a number of critical roles including Maestro de Ron (Master Blender), bestowed on only a handful of skilled craftsmen in the Company’s 151 years. This expertise requires years of training, passed down from generation to generation. As part of the Bacardi 150th anniversary celebration in 2012, Cutillas joined an unprecedented eight Maestros de Ron BACARDÍ, each a Bacardi family member, to combine their extraordinary talents and create a very special and rare BACARDÍ rum—Ron BACARDÍ, de Maestros de Ron, Vintage, MMXII. This limited-edition blend was crafted with the finest BACARDÍ rums laid to rest in oak barrels over the past 20 years and finished in 60-year-old Cognac barrels.
Cutillas retired from Bacardi Limited as chairman in 2000. Prior to that, he headed Bermuda-based Bacardi Limited from 1992-1997 as president and chief executive. Previously he led Bacardi & Company Limited in the Bahamas from 1977-1992. Mr. Cutillas started working for Bacardi in 1955 as a chemical engineer at its original headquarters in Santiago de Cuba.
Cutillas died unexpectedly on Nov. 1 and is survived by his wife and son.