A year has now passed since the “Emperor of Brandy”, Filipino Andrew Tan who owns the brandy empire Emperador, bought the remains of Domecq including its flagship brand Fundador. This was the first commercial Spanish brandy and it has saved the company twice. Launched in 1874, this new product provided profitability at a difficult time for Sherry, and it was the key reason for Emperador’s purchase - indeed rescue - of the ailing firm which had been languishing for twenty years in the hands of the multinationals Allied, Beam and Suntory.
|Andrew Tan among his brandy soleras|
A great deal has happened in the year since Andrew Tan announced the start of a new era and gave many positive signs of putting the bodega, which also produces Harveys and Terry Sherries, back to its rightful position at the top and giving one of its prestige bodegas back to Jerez. According to Rafael Rendón, the firm’s managing director, signs of change appeared in the first few days with the opening of the gates at the Puerta de Rota to the public. Fundador has signed up to the brandy research and development project Bestbrandy. The brands have been repositioned in the marketplace and brand names have been bought back from Pernod Ricard. A new range of Harveys Sherry has been launched and the excellent Tapería de Fundador has opened in a refurbished bodega in Calle San Ildefonso. The firm has also begun restoration work to the Torre de Riquelme, an old watchtower on the city walls at the now lost Puerta de Rota. Another project is the refurbishment of the Castillo de Macharnudo in the finca El Majuelo for wine tourism. All this and he has also bought Bodegas Garvey and Zoilo Ruiz Mateos.
|Castillo de Macharnudo|
Meanwhile sales of Sherries, which have recently won prestigious awards, are growing, and so are sales of brandy for which solera capacity is being increased to meet predicted demand. There will be new product launches too, such as Tres Cepas Light which has just been launched in the Phillippines. Rafael Rendón believes that brandy’s time has come, but it lacks support from the trade because individual companies don’t have enough clout. “We need to develop a strategic plan, challenging and risky though it may be, and Fundador will support any generic action in support of brandy and Sherry, even if it implies some detriment to our interests”.