JOSÉ MUÑOZRon Artesano CEO
By Jose Hoffmann
1. Who is José Muñoz?
Jose Muñoz is a family man, happily married for 23 years and father of 2 (Seba-20 & Lucas-16 years of age). A creative problem solver with around 25 years of experience in the advertising & marketing industries. I started out as a graphic designer for a local advertising agency and worked my way up to Creative Director. Then, I was given a chance as a marketing executive with a local beer manufacturer for 7 years, and afterwards worked for another local rum manufacturer for 2 years. Those years opened my eyes to opportunities and I decided to pursue them by creating my own rum brand, ARTESANO. I was lucky to meet one of the most respected rum consultants in the world, Javier Herrera, & and one of the greatest minds I’ve ever met, Luis Jose Cruz, and convince them to partner with me in this adventure of making great rums.
It took us over 6 years to pursue this dream and convert the idea into a real bottle. We presented our project to many, many investors who either turned us down, or still have not invested. This forced us to do the first equity crowdfunding campaign in Puerto Rico to raise capital and we raised over $200k from over 370 investors. Now here we are.
2. What does the rum mean for you? What made you fall in love with rum and when did it happen?
Rum has always been a part of my life. One of my grandfathers was a rum drinker and great coquito maker. My family was big on parties & gatherings and rum was always present in those times. Rum was the very first spirit I tried and still my favorite spirit to date. When I had 2 year tenure as a marketing executive in a local rum manufacturer I did a deep dive into the rum industry. I learned a lot about the complexity of the business and all the opportunities presented in the category not just in Puerto Rico, but around the world. I believed I could do something special if I was fortunate enough to put together a great team and now we have an awesome team of experts collaborating to make this real.
3. Three essential characteristics that define the rum according to your perspective.
– Versatility: Rum is the most versatile spirit. Within the rum category you can create any kind of rum. It’s just about being creative.
– Complexity: Great rum has many layers to it.
– Mixability: You can create virtually any cocktail with rum: simple rum & coke, mojitos, old fashioned, daiquiris, piña coladas, tiki cocktails…literally anything.
4. What is the most important contribution you have made in the rum industry?
We are presenting great pot-still rums, hand-made with love from the mountains of Jayuya, Puerto Rico. Our work showcases rum in a pure way. We are meticulous in material selection, treatment, and aging to be true to rum. We are working hard to become one of the most respected rum brands in the world in a few years.
5. Benefits that the rum industry has given you.
I have met great professionals, learned a lot from them, and have also made a lot of good friends. It has given me the chance to express our vision of what Puerto Rican rums can be and hopefully take our brands around the world as ambassadors of Jayuya, a small town in the rain-forest of Puerto Rico. This will give me a chance to co-create something that could transcend my lifetime.
6. What’s another thing you are passionate about, in addition to rum? Why?
Learning new stuff everyday, because it keeps me growing.
Creativity, because it explores what has not been created yet and moves the world.
Art, because it’s essential to culture and who we are as a collective. From music to painting, from poetry to movies, sculpture & dance. I love it all.
7. What is your favorite place for drinking rum?
In my home, with my family & friends.
8. Favorite drink + Recipe
I have learned great rum should be tasted neat or just with a rock. Having said that, I do love a signature cocktail of ours we named “Playa” (beach in Spanish), which is rum, fresh coconut water and a rim of salt.
9. Why is it important to educate the rum consumer?
Simple. There are a lot of different rums, different ways to make them and people should know what makes our rums different or special.
10. Any tips to train the palate and taste a good premium rum?
A great rum master taught me the best way to taste a good premium rum is neat, with a few drops of pure water to open the spirit and better appreciate the aromas & flavors.
11. How can the rum contribute to improving the crisis in some countries?
I can only talk about Puerto Rico, but our rums can contribute to the local economy by creating jobs, and exporting our brands to other countries brings in new money to Jayuya’s rural economy and our beloved Puerto Rico.
12. Is the commitment to sustainable development the key of success for the permanence of the rum industry in the world? Why?
Climate change is real. We have to face it and find creative ways to make the smallest imprint in our ecosystem. We are working on a plan to incorporate solar energy and rain water into our production facilities and we have been re-processing the waste created in the rum-making process as compost for farming.
13. Who would like to meet in the rum industry? What would you say to him/her?
I have met some very respectable people in the industry, but I would love to meet Richard Seale and Alexandre Gabriel, as well as other people doing great rums and bourbons so we can chat about unique and inspiring distillates.
14. What are your next goals in the rum industry?
Create a space for our brands in Puerto Rico and every market we step into.
To have our brands recognized as part of the best in the world.
When somebody asks a Puerto Rican for a Puerto Rican rum recommendation…they’re told: “Try ARTESANO, 106 or BOHIQUE” from La Destilería in Jayuya, right in the mountains of Puerto Rico.
15. Plans you have when you leave the rum industry.
I’m in no hurry to leave the industry, but I would love to help other people create great companies, travel the world eating the best foods and enjoy my grandchildren…if we do great, maybe even buy a boat 😉
16. Why is the role of the bartender important in the rum industry?
Bartenders are the gatekeepers. They make or break brands and decide to use and offer -or not offer- your brand. We will work hard to earn the respect of the bartender community, support their education, and the evolution of the industry.
17. What is your advice for new generations in the rum industry?
Persist & work hard because it will not be easy. Focus on quality, not quantity.
18. How can people learn more about you? Website? Social media page?
I’m not very active, but you can find me on social media:
Try to get a well lit shot from the front of the rum label
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