Rich Pascucci, who most recently served as the chief growth officer for Pabst Brewing Company, has been tapped to help lead Evolution Spirits, makers of Monkey Rum.
Pascucci joined Evolution Spirits earlier this month and will serve as its chief growth officer and head of sales. The company was co-founded by television personality Zane Lamprey and is backed by Vita Coco co-founder Mike Kirban, former Vitaminwater CMO Rohan Oza and other notable beverage industry insiders.
“The responses I received when I left Pabst was humbling and astonishing,” Pascucci told Brewbound. “There were some really great opportunities, and it was nice to be a ‘free agent’ for the first time in a while, but I wanted to take some time to understand exactly what my sweet spot should be.”
In explaining his decision to leave the beer business, Pascucci said he was interested in joining a startup where he could “impact strategy and how we go to market.”
For his part, Ian Crystal, who co-founded Evolution Spirits and serves as its CEO, said he was interested in tapping into Pascucci’s knowledge of the beer category, particularly how investments, sales strategies and distribution management changed as thousands of craft beer companies entered the space over the last five years.
“There are a lot of learnings from the craft beer boom that are applicable across alc-bev,” he said. In a simultaneous announcement, Evolution Spirits also named Kirbin to its board of directors. The other two members of the board are Lamprey and Crystal. Evolution Spirits currently makes two Monkey Rum offerings – a toasted coconut light rum and spiced dark rum.
The rum, which is aged in American whiskey barrels as long as three years, is sourced from the Caribbean, Crystal said. The products are then shipped to the U.S., and blended and bottled in upstate New York at LiDestri Food and Beverage, a private label and contract manufacturer that supplies more than 40 million cases of food, beverage and spirits product annually.
The company could look to create or invest behind additional spirits brands down the road, Crystal added.
“My vision to create more spirits brands and products in the future, and use our route-to-market and experience in building and starting a spirits entity to grow those brands in the same channel,” he said.
Pascucci, who previously held various sales, marketing and innovation roles with Diageo and Red Bull, said Evolution Spirits would first look to strengthen its position in existing territories before looking at new market entries, which could come as early as next year.
The company expects to sell approximately 4,900 9L cases of product in California, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Florida, Indiana and Arkansas, according to Crystal. Each bottle sells for a suggested retail price of $25.Additional information is included in the press release below.
Chief Growth Officer of Pabst Tapped to Accelerate Expansion of Monkey Rum Brand
New York – August 21, 2017 – Evolution Spirits and Monkey Rum today announce the appointment of Rich Pascucci as Chief Growth Officer and Head of Sales for Evolution Spirits and Monkey Rum. The appointment comes in the midst of rapid growth of the Monkey Rum brand fueled by recent expansion into ABC Fine Wine & Spirits and Total Wine & More, the largest private and public spirits chains in the U.S. Additionally, current investor and Co-founder and CEO of Vita Coco Coconut Water, Mike Kirban, has agreed to join the board of directors. Rich will lead commercial expansion and has more than 20 years of experience in spirits, wine, beer and energy drinks working for some of the largest industry players including: Diageo, Red Bull and Pabst.
Evolution Spirits, owner of Monkey Rum, was founded by television personality and entrepreneur Zane Lamprey and drinks veteran Ian Crystal launching in 2015 with a focus on key markets in New York, Florida and New Jersey. The award-winning, barrel-aged Caribbean Rum is delivered in the world’s first bottle designed to be recycled into glassware supporting a mission of creating sustainable packaging within the spirits industry.
“For the last two years Monkey Rum pioneered a new spirits innovation system with increased customer marketing support and account stewardship through on-the-ground sales, merchandising and promotions. The focus was to take a hands-on approach and steer away from a traditional distributor system where the brand would get lost. Now, we’re in the position to get to the next level and Rich is the commercial leader we have been searching for who can take us through a powerful traditional distribution system,” says Ian Crystal, Co-founder of Evolution Spirits and Monkey Rum.
“Monkey Rum is an award-winning lifestyle brand with a strong foundation, active consumer base and growing business. I am excited to join Zane and Ian to drive the expansion, distribution and visibility of Monkey Rum across the United States and around the world,” adds Pascucci.
Evolution Spirits contracted Protis Global to lead its executive search. Protis Global is an industry leading executive search firm who specializes in partnering companies for the long-term and who support and help grow the underdog.
About Evolution Spirits and Monkey Rum
Monkey Rum is an award-winning, barrel-aged Caribbean rum, seasoned with only natural ingredients for smooth taste and a clean finish. Designed to sip, 70 proof, less sugar compared to key competitors and gluten free, Monkey Rum comes in two varieties: Monkey Rum with Toasted Coconut and Monkey Rum with Natural Spices.
Additionally, Monkey Rum is the world’s first bottle designed to be recycled into glassware. The patented bottle design can be recycled into a rocks glass (created from the bottom third of the bottle), a pint glass (created from the bottom two thirds of the bottle) and goblet (created from the top third of the bottle). Consumers can simply return to the store in which they purchased Monkey Rum and exchange the empty bottle for a recycled glass at no charge. Alternatively, consumers can go online to facilitate the exchange. Monkey Rum has already recycled 4000 bottles. Monkey Rum is available in a 750ml and 50ml sizes with an average price of $25 per 750ml.
About Zane Lamprey Zane Lamprey is an international television personality, drinks aficionado and entrepreneur. For the last 15 years Zane has hosted international travel drinking programs including his latest project “Chug” on Netflix where he travels throughout the world via train exploring culture through drinks. Zane is a known personality in the drinks industry where he has hosted many of the leading drinks events including: Tales of the Cocktail and WSWA.