Sir John: Cutillas helped establish Bermuda as ‘global player’
The former chairman of drinks giant Bacardi has died, the company announced on Monday.
Manuel Jorge Cutillas, the first chairman of the group of Bacardi firms that formed Bacardi Ltd in 1992, was 81.
Facundo L. Bacardi, the present chairman, said: “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.
“His dedication to the dynamic Bacardi culture of passion, excellence and entrepreneurial spirit will be greatly missed.”
Mr Cutillas, a fifth generation Bacardi family member, was the great-great grandson of Don Facundo Bacardi Masso, who founded the rum firm in Santiago de Cuba.
He was cited as a driving force in the formation of Bacardi Ltd, which brought together five separate companies based in several countries into a single firm based in Bermuda — which became the largest privately-held spirits company in the world.
He also played a key role in the firm's first acquisition outside their own rum brand in 1993 — the Martini & Rossi group, famous for its vermouths.
It also added wines, cognac, Scotch whisky and liqueur to its brands, doubling the size of Bacardi Ltd.
Mr Cuillas, who retired to the Bahamas, died on Friday while on vacation in Panama. He is survived by his wife and son.
Mr Cutillas worked for Bacardi for 45 years, before retiring in 2000. He was President and chief executive of the then stand-alone Bermuda-based arm of the firm from 1992-97.
He was a Maestro de Ron — master blender — an honour given to only a handful of experts in the company's 151 years in the business.
Mr Cutillas started his career with Bacardi in 1955 as a chemical engineer in Santiago de Cuba. The firm was forced to flee Cuba after the Communist takeover in 1959 led by Fidel Castro.