All at sea?

28 June, 2016

He suggests that drinkers of other dark spirits, including whisky, can be enticed into rum if they can be persuaded to try it. “It’s a different tasting experience for the consumer,” says Blacknell. “More and more, category boundaries are getting blurred for consumers.”

If boundaries are being blurred so too has the way consumers are being recruited become more fluid than it has ever been, according to Mauricio Bermudez, Bacardi Rums director of marketing. “In the past, generally consumers traded up to more aged, darker versions as their palates evolved. However, with the recent momentum behind brown spirits, some consumers are entering the category via aged/dark rums, instead of trading up from white rums.”

Unsurprisingly, Bacardi says it is leading the charge with the release of its Facundo rum collection a few years ago. Bermudez says the collection, released in 2013, had the unique opportunity to fill a void in the market and become the world’s first true luxury rum.

“We hope the Collection is reshaping and redefining people’s notions of rum and creating newer, higher-order rum occasions and sipping rituals.”

All Bacardi’s rums are aged – light and dark. Bermudez says: “We see premiumisation as the future for the category for both light and dark rums. Rum’s versatility and diversity in profiles has awakened interest and continues to drive the upward trend in the category. With so many regions, styles, and profiles to choose from, it’s no surprise we see more and more bartenders reviving rum classics and creating innovative cocktails with rum.”

Before premiumisation can happen, many think category confusion should be addressed when it comes to regulating rums. “I genuinely feel there is a lot of confusion and limp categorisation such as colour doesn’t help. You don’t buy ‘dark’ scotch or cognac – why buy dark rum?” asks Peter Holland, owner/writer of

“Disclosure of all additions will help consumers and professionals alike, but who will enforce it? If you add caramel, why shouldn’t you say that?”

Holland says that further tags, almost along the lines of ‘champagne brut’, would help consumers. “I dislike the hiding aspect. I don’t like being lied to. Perhaps a list of ingredients would help.”

It’s not that there aren’t regulations in place – rum isn’t a category without rules – but enforcement is lax.

“There are regulations but I don’t think everyone enforces them. Jamaica, for example, has very defined rules, as does Barbados. But, they are making rules to suit their own country and style,” Holland says.

“This is fine, but the world of rum doesn’t have an overriding authority to enforce the regulations. But then neither does whisky in general. Scotch and bourbon do.”

Without someone to enforce the rules, there can be a flagrant disregard for them which goes unpunished and, in turn, damages the category. Holland adds: “There are a few brands that are quite obviously adding all manner of things to their rums. If they were calling themselves ‘spiced rums’ then I wouldn’t have a problem with it. But they are not.”

Another misconception is that all rum is sweet. Holland says: “Rum is not sweet by default, but carries the perception of such, and we need to get past this.”

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