Carting sugarcane in Haiti

A rummage through rum styles

15 December, 2022

Dave Marsland, St Lucia Distillers rum brand ambassador and sales manager for Spiribam UK, believes that the growth of spiced and flavoured rums is “driven by a desire to seek out traditional flavours from across the world”. This has led to a focus, he says, on Chairman’s Reserve Spiced, with its Saint Lucian flavours.

The real success story in rum isn’t so much a style as a price point, however. IWSR reports an overall global category growing by 10% in volume and 15% in value between 2020 and 2021, what it defines as premium-and-above rum grew by 26% in volume, and 34% in value.

Anne Martin, Havana Club global marketing director, confirms this. “We can safely say that premiumisation continues to be a major trend for the category,” she says. “We are witnessing a surge in the demand for premium rum in our key markets, and we’re not expecting this to slow down yet.”

“The march of premiumisation continues at pace,” agrees West, describing rums from the Cask portfolio such as El Dorado 12 as “an affordable luxury to be enjoyed throughout the year”.

Nigel Brown, president of Siddiqui Rums, says: “The premium rum market is driving growth, and people are spending more on rum now. The premium rum market is only just beginning.”

Bacardi’s Cullimore is seeing consumers of other categories discovering premium rums, while existing consumers move more to the premium end of the market too. “Our core rum drinker looks to premium as a different way to enjoy spirits, which gives rise to a variety of products, like cask finishes with a higher abv,” he says, adding that this has benefited expressions such as Bacardi Reserva 8.”

For Speciality Brands, this growth in premium rum has informed recent portfolio choices, with new additions such as Rivers Antoine and Neisson. “We’re seeing strong growth for sipping rums such as the Hampden Estate range, and equally the traditional Martinique AOC Rhum Agricole Neisson has generated impressive interest since we took it on a year ago,” reports Seale.

Frost, at Duppy Share, is seeing the same. “The demand for our XO rum has been mind-blowing,” he says. “It’s no surprise that with more people drinking rum, more people are looking for the absolute best.”

Producers such as Appleton are well placed to benefit from the rise of the premium end of the market, says Dennis, explaining that the estate’s long history allows it to have enough liquid to produce its core range while creating annual releases of exclusive rums such as its Hearts Collection. “It’s been exciting to become a part of this end of the market as we have seen it evolve,” he says.

Bespoke services

Cask is catering for this demand for premium rums by offering a bespoke service to retail and on-trade customers, allowing them to select casks based on style, age and barrel, with a bespoke label and a limited number of bottles.

St Lucia Distillers, meanwhile, has been bringing its Chairman’s Reserve Master’s Selection programme to a wider audience, giving bars the opportunity to select their own barrels, while the Rhum Clément Barrel Programme was introduced for the first time in 2022, giving the option of single batches finished in everything from tequila, grappa or sake barrels.

Cask finishes like these are increasingly common, invariably commanding premium price points. Among the more prominent is the recent series of cask-finished rums from Bacardi, based on its Reserva 8 expression. Last year saw the launch of a limited-release Sherry Cask Finish in the US, which is set to be followed by a Reserva 8 Rye Cask this year.

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