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Tom Jago, Drinks Executive Best Known For Creating Baileys Irish Cream, Dies At Age 93

October 16, 2018

Tom Jago, a drinks executive credited with creating some of the industry’s most famous brands, died on October 12. He was 93.

Jago began his drinks career at Diageo predecessor company International Distillers & Vintners (IDV), where he headed up new product development. IDV and its parent company, Grand Metropolitan, owned food and drinks interests—including a dairy company called Express Dairies. Jago called for the development of a new product that blended Red Breast whiskey, which was marketed by IDV in Ireland in those days, with cream from Express Dairies. The result was a liqueur called Baileys Irish Cream, which today is the world’s 13th-largest spirits brand at 6.8 million cases.

During his years at IDV, Jago also spotted a little-known South African coconut rum brand in the portfolio called Coco Rico. He rechristened it with a more marketable name—Malibu—and it too became a multi-million-case brand. Jago’s other major innovation at IDV was in the wine sphere, where he created a brand called Piat d’Or, using liquid from IDV-owned French winery Le Piat de Beaujolais. Piat d’Or became the U.K.’s most successful premium branded wine during the 1970s and 1980s.

Jago later moved to another Diageo forerunner company, United Distillers, where he helped launch the Six Classic Malts range, which generated new interest in single malt Scotch and spawned a new era of Scotch whisky education among consumers. The final chapter in Jago’s long career was the 2008 launch of The Last Drop, a luxury spirits negoçiant that acquired and sold allocations of rare, upscale spirits. The company, owned in partnership with drinks industry veteran James Espey and daughters Rebecca Jago and Beanie Espey, was sold to Sazerac Co. in 2016.—David Fleming

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