Dark Rum

07 June, 2013

“People are looking more at quality, not quantity. If a spirit’s going to be premium you want value for money. A 12-year-old rum is going to be a lot cheaper than a 12-year-old single malt but you’re still getting that full-bodied spirit.” 

But Burrell points out that a lot of the marketing money over the years has gone into white rum, with aged rums not being a major part of the economy. 

“Now they are becoming popular they are being depleted, so prices will have to go up. Rums have only been set aside for the past 20 years, so I predict prices will go up for a short space of time until rum from some years ago have been set aside. Some quite well-known rum brands have had to take age statements off because they could not keep up.”

Respecting age

Famously, J Wray & Nephew (now part of the Campari stable) last year launched the limited-edition Appleton Estate 50 Year Old Jamaica Independence Reserve Rum – believed to be the oldest in the world and firmly targeted at the connoisseur. It has also promised a 100-year-old off the back of that, which will be no mean feat given the evaporation levels in the hot Caribbean countries.

Andrea Conzonato, chief marketing officer at Gruppo Campari, says: “Many consumers are still not familiar with the concept of rums as premium aged spirits that can either add great complexity to cocktails or can be enjoyed neat. 

“We therefore seek to educate on what sets our rums apart from others and how to appreciate and enjoy our rums. 

“One area where we pride ourselves is in the fact that we use the minimum ageing system, whereby if there is an age statement on our package that age refers to the youngest rum in the blend, which is an assurance of quality and distinguishes us from many of our competitors who follow the average or solera age system.”

As Mark Geary, global brand director for Edrington-owned Brugal, points out, production methods are becoming increasingly complex as the move towards connoisseur-style rums gains pace and says age is important to give depth and smoothness to a rum.

“We are becoming more sophisticated in the way we manage the wood, using specific cask types such as ex-bourbon, Pedro Ximenex and Oloroso casks. We are ageing differently.”

Brugal is releasing the limited-edition Papa Andrés rum as part of its 125th anniversary celebrations, made with rums that have previously only been consumed by the Brugal family during their private celebrations. Only 500 bottles are going out, priced between $1,000 and $1,200 in GTR, Asia, the US, domestically in the Dominican Republic and in parts of Europe.

Geary says: “One looks to create a halo effect through limited editions. It reinforces to consumers the quality of product you can get in rum.

“There are certain perceptions people have of rum that we shatter with the type of rum we are producing. There’s a big change in quality. In the past, people have seen rum as something you maybe throw into the punchbowl with fruit juice and put an umbrella in. That’s almost rum’s childhood and it’s now growing into a category.

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