The Edrington Group Limited
Visitors welcome throughout the year
Avenida Luis Ginebra,
The fourth and fifth generations of the Brugal family make rum using only from molasses from the Dominican Republic at the country’s only operating distillery. Having succeeded in dominating its domestic market, Brugal has broken out of the Caribbean to become one of the leading rums sold in Spain and Italy.
Brugal’s best known Añejo and Extra Añejo bottles are instantly recognisable – you’ve probably seen the distinctive netting that encases them. This unusual and labour-intensive practice started after a member of the founding Brugal family visited India, noticing that premium food products there were distinguished as luxurious by being presented in net bags.
Decades later, in the early 1980s, the netting company Brugal had come to rely on was unable to meet demand, so they simply decided to stop putting the nets on the bottles. A catastrophic effect on sales in the Dominican Republic was instant – so dramatic that they not only had to resume putting nets on new bottles, but also had to visit bars and shops to apply nets to bottles already on display. The nets have remained on bottles sold in the Dominican Republic ever since.
It’s a story that’s shows how firmly established a role Brugal has come to play in Dominican culture, though the rum’s existence, and its home in the Dominican Republic, cannot be said to have been inevitable. Andrés Brugal Montaner, its founder, was originally from Sitges in Catalonia, Spain, and acquired his expertise in rum production after emigrating to Cuba. Not content to remain there, however, he headed for Cuba’s island neighbour armed with his newfound knowledge. Happily for Dominicans, he settled on its northern coast, establishing his rum company in Puerto Plata in 1888.
Today, Brugal & Company continues to be run by direct descendants of Andrés – the current chairman, George Arzeno Brugal, represents the fourth generation – though in February 2008, the family sold a majority share in the company to the Edrington Group, the Scottish distiller better known for whisky brands such as The Famous Grouse, The Macallan and Highland Park. Edrington is owned by a charitable trust, and it seems that the Brugal family, who also operate a charitable foundation, saw this shared philanthropy as beneficial to their ambitions. Erdington paid in excess of £200 million for a 60 per cent share, with much of the figure reinvested in the production facilities at Brugal.
Brugal-Branded Road Signs
Brugal’s contribution to Dominicans’ lives is evident across the island. In the past there were very few road signs in the Dominican Republic, so in the early 1970s Brugal started placing its own signposts to major towns and places of interest. The move was partly intended to aid its own delivery drivers and visitors, but it proved so popular that towns and cities throughout the country began to request Brugal’s signs. Today, there are more than 3,000, all produced in Brugal’s own dedicated workshop. Visiting bar owners from abroad have also started to request these signs for their own bars, so you may well come across a Brugal sign closer to home.