People drinking mojitos

Rum: The White Choice

23 August, 2022

White rum has long been a star ingredient of cocktails and with consumers now demanding better quality drinks, it is ripe for premiumisation. 

Typically used in cocktails, white rum is a spirit that uses its versatility to keep growing in the global drinks market. According to the latest data from IWSR Drinks Market Analysis, white rum volume declined 9% globally in 2020, but was up more than 4% in 2021. Furthermore, the IWSR forecasts that global white rum volume will grow by about 1% CAGR 2021-2026. But why is this?


Out of the rum category, white rum has a much more flexible flavour profile than other expressions such as its dark counterparts, making it easier to use in cocktails. Aged rum can add a bit more value to a cocktail, whereas less aged allows the cocktail to express itself. 

Havana Club is one such brand that creates a white rum for classic Cuban cocktails. Its Havana Club Original – Añejo 3 Años is made and aged in Cuba from local sugarcane molasses, combining notes of the sugarcane with the fruitiness of Caribbean rum, and is intended for a Daiquiri, Mojito or Piña Colada. 

Apolline Celeyron, head of communications, public affairs and S&R at Havana Club, says: “All of those cocktails actually play on the multi-faceted aspect of Cuban white rum that has been aged.” Alongside rum & cola, or a Cuba Libre as it is formally known, these cocktails were among the top 10 consumers will be asking for in bars in 2022, according to the Bacardi Trends Report. 

The cocktail trend is something other brands have been making the most of this summer. Will Naylor, marketing director at Banks Rums notes: “It has a place in many mixed drinks and for many occasions. You can elevate a cocktail with white rum, such as Banks, that has character and flavour, bringing to it a depth of flavour.”

As autumn approaches, demand for white rum-based cocktails remains high. “Punch and batching cocktails is really relevant, it’s a seasonal one and its versatility means it can play into all sorts of occasions and seasons, giving the consumer what they want,” Naylor adds. 

Bernard D’Offay, founder and export director of the Seychelles’ Takamaka rum, says: “Cocktail trends, especially with rum, have been growing. Overall rum in the UK has surpassed gin, and white rum specifically supports top-tier venues that are looking for a base spirit that still has some character, but is ideal for building a variety of flavour on.” As most rums have found, the key to success for white rum expression lies in creating a spirit that can be used for its adaptability. 

Botran is another brand that has done this with its Reserva Blanca, a blend of rums aged three to eight years old with a special filtration process using activated charcoal to remove colour while maintaining the aged rum taste profile. 

Ivan Valdez Coll, senior global brand manager at Botran Rum says: “This product was born from the desire of mixologists to have an aged rum that did not interfere with their art of creating colourful cocktails.” 

Not just in bars, the cocktail trend had a diff erent form during the height of the pandemic. Covid brought a lot of interest into the rum category in terms of making cocktails at home, which has continued since the easing of restrictions as people have discovered how accessible it can be. The Bacardi Trends Report highlighted that when “faced with lockdowns and stay-at-home orders, people across the world have spent the past two years experimenting with cocktail creations and learning more about the spirits they enjoy”. 

Coll adds: “Consumers looking for quality experiences to enjoy at home were paired with a desire to know more behind the product. Now, going back out in bars, the key words are product truth and story-telling, that result in memorable experiences for consumers.” 

Takamaka rum


This desire to learn more about the product is seen with another current trend for white rum, and that’s premiumisation. This has had a buzz for a while now, but as Coll mentions, consumers had the time to invest in learning about the spirit during the pandemic. 

Naylor adds: “One of the other things we are seeing with premiumisation is an attitude around transparency to know more about what is in the rum you are drinking. Also transparency around provenance and where it’s from, how it’s made and the ingredients that go into it, and that’s one of the things that we’re seeing, particularly in the trade.

 “It’s fairly well-known that sugar content and the addition of sugar to rum is a hot topic at the moment and relevant for consumers and bartenders. As a brand that doesn’t add sugar post-distillation, it’s something we’re proud of,” Naylor continues. 

The modern-day rum drinker is going beyond the cocktail and thinking more about what they are consuming. “There’s definitely momentum in the category. We believe white rum can be premiumised and as that premium space develops and consumers become more discerning within the category, more aware of the types of rum, that all helps to show rum is a category that has all the credentials of other categories that have also premiumised. Gin and tequila in the white space are very much premium categories, and from that we can take that through education of the categories, white rum has a place to grow there too,” Naylor concludes. 

Takamaka has found that “white rum has continued to be a fantastic performer and delivered far more than the global CAGR trend, which is especially relevant for us as we believe we are a no nonsense white rum, ideal for the ontrade,” D’Offay says. Premiumisation of the rum category is happening, and many brands have found that white rum, especially post-pandemic, will continue to grow as a premium spirit. 

Discerning attitudes are also emerging among new alcohol connoisseurs the Bacardi Cocktail Trends Report found, as those who are seeking out high-quality drink experiences are driving another wave of premiumisation across spirit categories. Coll says: “A higher sense of connoisseurship and understanding of the truth behind spirits is creating more rum lovers as they unveil the craftsmanship and uniqueness behind premium rums across the globe. This makes our vision a bigger commitment to the world.” 

Botran has also found growth in the above-premium sector, due to the higher interest in premium rums, with the premium, super-premium, ultra-premium and prestige segments having a CAGR (2021-2026) of 5%, 10%, 7% and 15%, respectively. 

The pandemic fostered a higher sense of appreciation for premium spirits, enabling white rum to continue to prove its stead in this category, alongside spirits such as tequila and gin. It allowed for consumers to garner a sense of appreciation for white rum and a desire to learn more about what was going into their cocktails. Of course, premium white rum can be enjoyed neat, however it is primarily made with the intention of being used to make cocktails, something that drives its continued success, as the category was dubbed the “drink of lockdown” by WSTA.

Banks rum bottle shot

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