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Resurgent Rum

Mojito Cocktail.JPG

Rum is governed by few rules and as a consequence, it is exploding with a host of flavours. Characteristics differ due to the production process, the period of fermentation, whether it is aged and if so how long, type of cask used, climate and of course blending. All of this makes rum an interesting category that we think, is set to boom in the UK with the revolution that gin started moving to dark spirits.

“Development of fermented drinks produced from sugarcane juice is believed to have first occurred in ancient China” explains Miguel Smith, Mount Gay Global Brand Ambassador on the history of rum, “a document from 1651 shows Barbados has the earliest record of Rum production and it’s commonly agreed that Mount Gay was the first commercial producer”. “Columbus took sugar cane with him on his first voyage of discovery to the Caribbean, and we credit early plantation owners with using the surplus Molasses - a byproduct in the sugar production process - with distilling and producing a ‘Guarapo’ which is the early predecessor of rum” adds Bacardi Trade Ambassador Adolfo Comas.

To protect gin and cognac respectively, Britain and France didn’t allow rum to be imported originally - surprising when it was the drink and currency of the high seas. During the 18th century, no longer held back by import restrictions, rum started to grow in popularity in the UK. As gin became regarded as the drink of the poor, the middle classes turned to rum as the quality improved. “Light style rum was first created in 1862 when Don Facundo Bacardi pioneered 4 key innovations that redefined the rum production process. He cultured his own proprietary yeast strain, created the parallel process of distillation, purposefully barrel aged his rum and charcoal filtered the liquid”, explains Adolfo Comas.

“Consumers are starting to embrace aged sipping rums with as much passion as other premium dark spirits”

By EmmaLi Stenhouse, Sailor Jerry

“Rum and cocktails fell out of fashion during the latter part of 20th century with the popularity of vodka” explains Kraken’s Roy Summers, “however, today rum is very much on the up”. “Caribbean rum distillers have been preaching for decades the amazing quality of their rums, and there is some evidence it’s finally getting through,” says Sailor Jerry Brand Ambassador EmmaLi Stenhouse, “consumers are starting to embrace aged sipping rums with as much passion as other premium dark spirits”. “Total rum is currently sitting at +6.3% volume and 3.3% value growth in the On-Trade (Nielsen Data to 4.11.17) and is outperforming the off-trade” adds Bacardi’s Adolfo Comas, “the contributor to growth is flavoured and spiced rums”.

It’s impressive growth, underpinned by consumer interest in spiced rums, but is growth going to continue and drive the other sub-categories? “The international rum market grew by just 0.2% last year to 54m cases, according to IWSR. Within that, super-premium rums were up by 9%” explains EmmaLi Stenhouse, “there is likely to be a complex picture for growth in the coming years with premium rum playing more of a role as consumers explore the category. Craft and aged rums are bringing more consumers into the category and will be driving this premium growth”.

Premiumisation in rum is certainly a theme, as Adolfo notes, “consumers are savvier today and experience plays a key factor in their drinks choice. They’re willing to pay more for better quality, premium serves and they expect a choice in venue to suit all occasions – a simple spirit mixer, or a cocktail treat. Premium rums sales are on the up and this coupled with a thriving UK cocktail culture is painting a bright future for this diverse category”.

“The buoyant cocktail culture is helping boost rum sales with traditional rum cocktails being revisited and rum is also replacing other spirits in some all-time classic cocktails” notes Roy Summers. To make the most of this trend, licensees should “develop a range of rum-based cocktails” says EmmaLi, adding that to further make more from rum, licensees should “expand their range of rums on offer by selecting more premium offering for consumers that are interesting in exploring the category”.

"Licensees have an opportunity with rum to offer a variety of styles, flavours and serves"

By Adolfo Comas, Bacardi Rums

“So many of our favourite cocktails have rum in them, but it’s a shame we don’t do more with it” says Bacardi’s Adolfo, “licensees can tailor their rum offerings to focus on rum styles. Our suggestion is to stock a variety of rums that cater for different occasions and taste. For a Bacardi Carta Blanca rum to use in a Mojito through to Bacardi Reserva Ocho Años rum to be served with lime juice, sugar and a splash of prosecco for a more sophisticated style of drink. Licensees have an opportunity with rum to offer a variety of styles, flavours and serves”. We believe every outlet should stock at least one white, dark, golden and spiced rum and create a price ladder to give the opportunity to upsell.

“Be meticulous in making sure the offering is diverse geographically as well as flavour profiles”, says Miguel Smith of Mouth Gay, and once your range is right, Miguel Smith adds that licensees should “offer specific consumption rituals, in-outlet sampling and promote your range with point of sale”.

Outlets should consider creating a rum menu that features a range of simple mixed drinks, rum cocktails and some good sipping rums. Our in-house design team can help, they design and print over 7000 items every year and each piece of work is created with enthusiasm, originality and a wealth of experience. Just make sure it includes a Mojito, it’s the No1. Cocktail in terms of volume in the UK On-Trade. So consider a rum cocktail offering for your outlet.

Matthew Clark’s aim through our Stir It Up initiative is to demystify the cocktail category through training and education to help our customers make more from the cocktail trend. So if you want to learn more about cocktails get in touch with us today.

About the author

Luke Siddall (alumni)

I'm Matthew Clark's resident content creator, looking after our social media, website and customer communications. I was a cocktail bartender for while before joining but I now spend most of my time on the other side of the bar.

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