People on the move: New appointments in the beverage industry - Bacardi, Beam Suntory and more

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT


Related tags Beam Suntory

Bacardi and Beam Suntory are among the companies welcoming new faces to top jobs.

D'USSÉ Cognac: youngest female cellar master

D'USSÉ Cognac has appointed Agathe Boinot as the second cellar master in its history – who also becomes the youngest female cellar master of the major houses in Cognac.

Boinot succeeds founding cellar master Michel Casavecchia, who retired earlier this month.

A Parisian native, Boinot studied oenology and held various roles in the wine and spirits industry in her early career, encompassing vodka, whiskey and gin - before being drawn to aged spirits and the world of cognac.

Boinot perfected her craft at the historic Chateau de Cognac, mastering the art of blending, aging and tasting.

agathe boinot

As apprentice to Casavecchia, she's been preparing for the role of cellar master for seven years, immersing herself in the sensory symphony and style of D'USSÉ.

Now, she will oversee D'USSÉ's generations of eau-de-vie and the techniques and traditions of the house to lead the Cognac's production and innovation.

"In this position, I will champion representation for women in Cognac, who have played an important but largely invisible role,” said Boinot.

“I aim to bring visibility to our work, inviting more women and younger generations to Cognac's possibilities in the process." 

D'USSÉ was founded by Shawn "JAY-Z" Carter and Bacardi in 2012.

Beam Suntory appoints new Chief Brands Officer


Premium spirit company Beam Suntory has named John Alvarado as the company’s US Chief Brands Officer, effective April 8.

Based in Chicago, Alvarado is charged with leveraging the heritage and quality of Beam Suntory’s brands to expand and deepen the company’s connections with the next generation of spirits drinkers across the US.

In addition to building brand equity to drive short- and long-term growth across Beam Suntory’s US portfolio – which includes Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark bourbons, Hornitos and Tres Generaciones tequilas and On The Rocks Premium Cocktails - Alvarado will oversee brand performance and ensure insight-driven focus on strategic categories and markets. 

In a career spanning more than 25 years, Alvarado has held senior brand marketing roles at Keurig Dr. Pepper and Constellation Brands. Notably, he contributed to 44 consecutive quarters of growth for Constellation Brands and developed a portfolio of brands based on differentiated positionings and unique stories, earning multiple awards, including EFFIEs, Addys, One Show Pencils and Cannes Lions Awards.

His appointment marks a homecoming for the industry veteran, as he previously led end-to-end brand and product strategy at Beam Brands Company, and helped develop the first US multicultural commercial plan, among other achievements. He brings deep knowledge of US Hispanic and Latin American markets.

Beam Suntory also recently appointed several new sales leaders to its US business to strengthen commercial excellence and execution:

  • Nicole Letcher was appointed Regional General Manager for the US Control Division. Letcher has been with Beam Suntory for 11 years, most recently serving as Sr. Marketing Director for the US East region.
  • Bryan Dedeker was appointed Regional General Manager for the US East Division. Dedeker has been with Beam Suntory for nearly 12 years, most recently serving as Southeast Division Vice President.
  • Mike McGill joined Beam Suntory as Regional General Manager, US West Division. McGill joined Beam Suntory after nearly 25 years at Diageo, where he held marketing, senior sales and GM positions across more than 24 states.
  • Troy Mercer continues in his role as Regional General Manager, US Central Region, a role that he has served in since July 2022, the latest role in his nearly seven years with Beam Suntory.
  • Tara Epps was appointed as General Manager, Strategic Accounts. Epps has been with Beam Suntory for more than seven years, most recently in the role of Vice President, National Accounts Off-Premise.
  • Jasprit Hanger was appointed as General Manager, Market Development and Commercialization. Hanger returned to Beam Suntory in 2022 and most recently was GM, US West & Control Divisions.

Bacardi: New SVP and managing director of commercial, North America

Jeff Branson

Bacardi has appointed spirits veteran Jeff Branson to the role of Senior Vice President and Managing Director of Commercial for North America.

With more than 20 years of beverage industry experience, Branson takes on the promotion following a successful run leading the company’s business in Canada where he served as Vice President and General Manager. Branson reports to Tony Latham, Regional President of Bacardi North America, and is based in Coral Gables, Florida.

In this role, Branson takes on responsibility for delivering on the commercial plans for North America as well as maintaining strong relationships with distributor partners and key customers to expand the company’s presence and growth in the market.
Branson first joined Bacardi in 2000 and has held commercial and trade marketing roles in Canada and the US, and at regional and national levels. In 2019, he moved to Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits (SGWS) for two years as SVP of Sales for the division dedicated to Bacardi portfolio in North America. The transition to SGWS and return to Bacardi are part of a program between the two partner companies to accelerate talent development growth and create new leadership opportunities.

Leaders for Southern Glazer's new Enterprise Data Center of Excellence

Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits has announced the leaders for its newly created Enterprise Data Center of Excellence.

The new center seeks to leverage the power of data, analytics, and artificial intelligence (AI).

It will be led by Chief Digital Officer Alan Wizemann and overseen by Chief Growth Officer David Chaplin; with collaboration with Southern Glazer’s Enterprise Technology Partners department led by Chief Information & Technology Officer, Ann Dozier.

“We are now looking at data as one of our products, bringing insights to life and driving better outcomes for our teams and trading partners,” said Alan Wizemann. “Building on a great foundation of accomplishments to date across digital, data, analytics, and AI, this new Enterprise Data CoE will allow us enhance our capabilities and accelerate our path to the next level of digital innovation.”

The following four executives will lead the new Enterprise Data CoE:

  • Tom Kornegay, Senior Vice President, Head of Data, Analytics, and Insights – Kornegay reports to Alan Wizemann and is responsible for developing and executing the Company’s enterprise data strategy. He joins Southern Glazer’s from VF Corporation, where he most recently held the role of Chief Data Analytics Officer. Previously, he has led digital transformations to modernize how companies use data technologies by deploying cloud infrastructures, advanced analytics practices, and machine learning technologies for Best Buy, Nike, Electronic Arts, and Apple.
  • Duan Peng, Senior Vice President, Head of Data Science, AI & Machine Learning (ML) – Peng reports to Alan Wizemann and is responsible for developing and executing the Company’s enterprise AI & ML strategy to drive value for Southern Glazer’s teams and trading partners. Peng joins Southern Glazer’s from Warner Bros. Discovery, where she most recently held the role of Senior Vice President, Global Data & AI. Previously, she has worked as a senior data & AI leader delivering high-impact data and AI solutions to drive digital transformations and business growth for companies such as Disney, Fox, NBCUniversal, Hyundai Capital America, HSBC, and Ameriprise Financial.
  • Bharathi Sampangi, Vice President, Data Platforms and Services – Sampangi reports to Ann Dozier and is responsible for the architecture, technical design, and roadmap of Southern Glazer’s enterprise data platforms. Sampangi brings more than 26 years of experience in the technology industry having held a variety of leadership roles with CSC, Five Below, Gap Inc., and most recently, as the Vice President of Engineering at Yohana.
  • Thomas McDevitt, Senior Vice President, Head of Industry and Supplier Data –​McDevitt will take on a new role as Senior Vice President, Head of Industry and Supplier Data, reporting to Alan Wizemann. In this role, McDevitt will lead a new team dedicated to driving industry insights and working with Southern Glazer’s suppliers to better understand data and capabilities.

Meanwhile, Zach Poelma, Senior Vice President, Supplier Strategy & Insights, will continue to lead the Supplier CoE: which will collaborate closely with the new enterprise data team.

Growing a non-alcoholic cocktail brand

tilden vp

Tilden, a premium non-alcoholic cocktail brand, has appointed Kate Palmer as VP, sales.

As a beverage, alcohol and hospitality industry veteran with more than 25 years of experience, Palmer will facilitate Tilden’s expansion into key markets and grow the sales team.

Previously, Palmer founded and ran Hearts + Tales Beverage Co., a brand incubator for spirits and cocktails products entering the market. Recognizing an uptick in alcohol consumption and anxiety during the height of the pandemic, she sought out alcohol-free brands to bolster the Hearts + Tales portfolio.

Prior, she served as the Vice President of Craft Spirits at Horizon Beverage Group, overseeing all new artisanal brands entering the company while running the sales division, Origin Beverage Co.

Palmer began her professional career in Boston, Massachusetts, running sales routes for multiple distributors in the region before joining The Cooper Spirits Company and launching the now ubiquitous St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur. 

Tilden launched its first two flavor expressions, the Lacewing and Tandem, in early 2023.

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