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Better known by its DUSA abbreviation, Destilerias Unidas S.A. has gained notoriety for its respected Diplomatico-branded rums, its success fuelled by the warmth and personality of its globetrotting proprietors, the Ballesteros family, who I'm sure are often mistaken for passionate brand ambassadors rather than brand owners.
The DUSA distillery, which lies at the foot of the Andes Mountains close to the Terepaima National Park, was originally established in 1959 when the main producers and distributors of alcoholic beverages in Venezuela merged to form Licorerias Unidas S.A.. The company was established under the auspices of Seagram International to supply the local market with vodka, whiskey, gin, rum and liqueurs. The Cacique rum brand was launched in 1961 and six years later it became the brand leader in its domestic Venezuelan market.
Seagram's initially held 51% of the company but in 1992 took full control. That lasted until 2001 when Seagram's itself was purchased by Diageo and Pernod Ricard. In November 2002 the two conglomerates relinquished their holding in the distillery to a newly established company, Distilerias Unidas S.A., led by the charismatic José R. Ballesteros Melendez. The purchase agreement came with a bulk supply contract to continue production of Cacique rum for Diageo and also to produce heavy rums for use in the blending of Pampero.