Diageo has been granted a three year global distribution and joint marketing deal by Industrias Licoreras de Guatemala group of companies for the Zacapa rum brand.

Speaking to just-drinks today (8 February), a spokesperson for the company confirmed that the agreement, which will begin on 1 April, will give Diageo global distribution rights with the exception of some countries in Central America, including Guatemala.

At the end of the three years Diageo has an option to buy a 50% equity stake in the brand subject to performance criterion, the company said.

The Zacapa rum portfolio includes Zacapa Centenario 15, Zacapa Centenario 23 and the ultra premium Zacapa Centenario XO.

The core markets for distribution will include the US, Mexico, Chile, Spain, Japan and global travel retail, said the spokesperson. "This was a strategic decision. We heeded the advice and recommendation of rum experts from across the world. It [Zacapa] will maintain its brand position based on heritage and unique taste, but our intent is to build the brand to upgrade its brand profile and introduce it to new markets.

"We may look to do a few selective line extensions too. We have plans to expand in regions where we see significant opportunities for luxury dark spirits."

Diageo's Latin America & Caribbean Hub managing director Randy Millian added: "The Zacapa brand will widen our brand range within the second largest and fastest growing major spirits category in the world and diversify our Reserve brand collection, which includes such super premium brands as Johnnie Walker Blue Label and Buchanan's Red Seal.'