Samantha Case

Samantha Case

Last updated on 4 November 2020

Samantha Case is an Assistant Archivist for the Whisky and Gin Archives at Bacardi based in Glasgow.

In its 158-year history, family-owned Bacardi has seen (and documented) many moments that have tested its resilience. From natural disasters to Prohibition to forced exile from its original homeland in Cuba – these stories from the past have shaped our culture and legacy. 2020 will mark another one of these challenging moments captured in our archives. Making sure the stories of today are preserved for generations to come is a tremendous responsibility made even more challenging during COVID-19 as situations shifted daily and countries found themselves in different stages of the recovery or closure.

Due to the sudden onset of the pandemic and the global scale of our company, it was vital that the archive team at Bacardi captured communications and changes in ways of working as rapidly as they happened. Our brand and company archives are spread out across four locations in the UK, France, Italy, and the USA, so we were well-placed to gather a range of records. Early on we mapped out the business records that we would need to capture to reflect any changes in working practices and the state of our business. It was important to consider how to best capture unique changes brought on by the pandemic, such as social distancing and temperature checks.

This situation emphasized how crucial digital records are to our company’s history. All the records relating to the pandemic were digital, which was ultimately useful because it allowed us to gather records from people even while unable to physically be in the office.

Records gathered from colleagues included:

  • Changes to working practices that allowed continued production of our iconic brands while ensuring the safety of all employees

  • Recordings of virtual trainings for employees and ambassadors around the world which connected people, educating them on our brands and offering skills and tips in finance, social media, communications and more

  • Web archiving of pandemic-related brand and company social media posts via Web Recorder

  • Records from Human Resources, including what the new employee experience would look like when returning to offices

  • Personal experiences demonstrating the resiliency of our employees around the world

  • Pandemic-related communications sent out globally and at the regional level

While we did not yet have a digital preservation system, we still utilized digital preservation techniques such as backing up the records in multiple locations and creating a log of checksums for each record.


1 Photos of lockdown measures, including visitor centre closures and shifts to new procedures including online booking as the only option to buy tickets.

There were two relief efforts that were especially crucial to capture by our archives team.

In March, for the first time in company history, Bacardi manufacturing sites started shifting production to help produce hand sanitizers. What began in Puerto Rico expanded to 13 production sites across 9 countries and collectively helped to produce more than 1.5 million litres of hand sanitizer. Importantly, nearly all hand sanitizer produced in each market was donated to local first responders - though we kept a few bottles in our archives!

Bacardi also focused relief efforts on the hospitality industry, pledging $4 million in aid and support to partners in the bar and restaurant industry with the #RaiseYourSpirits program which included training, social media fundraising, donations to foundations and much more.


2 Bottling hand sanitizer at Bacardi Bottling Corporation, Jacksonville, FL


3 Bottles of hand sanitizer made in Puerto Rico with the help of the BACARDÍ rum distillery, the largest premium rum distillery in the world.

2020 also brought moments of celebration and if there is one thing this year showed us, it’s that we can still celebrate important moments – albeit virtually! Macduff, one of our Scotch whisky distilleries, celebrated its 60th anniversary in September. Grand party plans at the distillery were cancelled by the pandemic, so instead, we celebrated virtually. We invited everyone in the UK Operations Centre to a virtual tasting and anniversary celebration. While it wasn’t quite the same as visiting lovely northern Scotland in person, it meant that many more people were able to share this celebration with us. Going virtual also allowed the content to live longer, as a recording is now available on the company’s global digital learning platform. In normal times, there is every chance that a 60th anniversary could have passed by with little notice. Instead, this celebration gained local media attention, including newspaper articles and a radio interview, and recognition in the Scottish Parliament – I think partly because people are feeling nostalgic and looking for positive moments to celebrate!  This shows us how useful digital methods can be in connecting to a wider audience, and we have made sure to archive all the information surrounding this event so that people in the future can learn from it.


4 Jamie Winfield with his team of operators doing a socially distanced toast at Macduff distillery

The work to capture and preserve information from our company in response to the pandemic doesn’t stop here; we continue to gather records every day. These records are set to be one of the first collections that is ingested into our new digital preservation system. As a 158-year old spirits company, still family-owned after seven generations, we have survived just about anything fate could throw at us. COVID-19 is one more challenge for us to overcome together. While don’t know exactly how stories preserved in our archives from 2020 will be used, thanks to digital preservation we can be confident that those stories will be kept safe, waiting to inspire future generations.

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