Ron Santiago 500


CubaRon S.A.


July 2015

My Role

UX/UI Product Designer

General Advisors
  • Tranquilino Palencia – Rum Master (Ron Santiago S.A)
  • Julio Ayan Rial – Rum Master (Ron Santiago S.A)
  • Vicente González Díaz – General PM
  • Luis Isolino Losada Losada – Industrial Engineer
  • Victor Montoya Torres – Graphics Designer
  • Alexis Gueddon Gacio – 3D Sketch Designer

The project

Ron Santiago 500

This design project was developed for Cuba Ron S.A., the largest producer and marketer of rums and liqueurs in Cuba. It is one of the design projects with the largest industrial and commercial investment in which I have participated. From the beginning the company was clear about the focus and scope it wanted to achieve, “the best product of the Cuban rum industry and one of the best in the world”.

The goal was to create the design of a high-end commercial product, specifically the highest-end rum that the company would manufacture to date and that would be launched to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the city of Santiago de Cuba, known as the “Cradle of Cuban Light Rum” for its great industrial tradition associated with this product.

This project was developed with an integral design approach that covered from the visual identity with all its graphic applications within the commercial campaign of the brand to the design and prototyping of the bottle and the packing and packaging system for complete transportation.

The project received several awards and recognitions in different categories of the commercial and design industry. Especially the design of the bottle and its packaging was awarded with the Grand Prize of the Industrial Design Awards of Cuba in 2016.

The product

The best rum in the cuban industry

Ron Santiago de Cuba 500 Aniversario is the highest quality rum currently manufactured and produced on the island of Cuba. It is a Premium rum within the range of those catalogued as “prestige spirits”. This product, together with Havana Club MAXIMO Rum, are the crown jewels of Cuban Light Rum, as defined by its creator, the great Rum Master Tranquilino Palencia Struch. 

“This rum is a tribute to the 500th anniversary of the foundation of the Villa de Santiago de Cuba by Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar in 1515. The Rum “Siglo V or 500 Anniversary” is a work of Science and Art of the Rum Masters of Santiago, who together with the perseverance and professionalism of a whole group of workers, have dedicated it with much love and tenacity to a city with all its History, as a demonstration of the thriving Rum industry of Santiago and its people in 2015, presenting and launching to the market what has been dreamed and prepared for several decades “THE AUTHENTIC TREASURE OF CUBAN RUM”.

The concept

Designing a Jewel

The branding concept for the Ron Santiago 500 Aniversario project began with research into the history and culture of rum in Santiago de Cuba. We sought to understand the roots and legacy of the city, as well as its connection to rum over the years.

Once we had a deep understanding of the historical roots associated with the rum culture of this important city, we began to develop different design proposals that would reflect that cultural essence. We played with different symbologies and colors that could evoke the city, its peculiar geography, its traditions, the essence of its people and especially the legacy of one of the most important promoters of the culture and the rum industry of this city, Don Emilio Bacardi Moreau. The final proposal presented to the client had the following features and conceptual nuances:

The bottle

diamond-shaped reflects the purity and elegance of the product, handcrafted with totally natural raw materials such as sugar cane, which comes from the earth in the fields of eastern Cuba and from whose essence is extracted the brandy from which this exceptional Rum is made. The diamond also evokes the elegance of such a “high end” product and the strength of the Cuban rum industry.

But perhaps the most significant design detail of this proposal is that “the diamond is not the form but the content”. The diamond is the negative (empty) space inside the bottle, signifying the concept that “the real jewel is the rum”. The jewel is the spirit liquid that rests inside the bottle.

The bottle is crowned by a crown-shaped cap or closure, whose shapes are inspired by the “troneras” of the old Morro San Pedro de La Roca Castle, an iconic symbol of the Historical Cultural Heritage of this city of Santiago de Cuba, which holds the title of World Heritage Site.

The Case

To protect this relic and all that it represents, we developed a concept that was born from one of the industry’s forerunners, Don Emilio Bacardi Moreau, an extraordinary Cuban whose work laid the foundations of what is today Cuban Light Rum.

Emilio Bacardi was passionate about Egyptology and all its beliefs, especially the theories of Antoine Bovis, Wilhelm Reich and Karel Drbal who, at the beginning of the 20th century, claimed to have demonstrated that the pyramid, as a geometric body, has a series of surprising and exceptional qualities. This belief led Emilio Bacardi to design his own tomb in the shape of a pyramid in whose interior his remains rest today together with those of his wife in the cemetery of Santa Ifigenia in the city of Santiago de Cuba.

This idea led us to design a pyramid-shaped case with three sides, each of which represents the three historical stages that the city of Santiago de Cuba has lived since its foundation, the colonial stage, the stage after the triumph of the Cuban Revolution of 1959 and the third stage, the City of the future, after its 500 years of foundation. Each side of the pyramid is also symbolized with the city’s coat of arms representing each of the stages mentioned above.

Inside the case, the bottle is accompanied by two glasses made of Murano glass, stamped in gold like the bottle.

Another detail is the parchment with the description and official registration of the bottle, dedicated and hand signed by the Master Rum Maker who created this extraordinary work of art.

"...designing this bottle has been one of the most beautiful and enriching experiences I've had in my career as a designer..."

Author, July 2015

The Result