All at sea?

28 June, 2016


Rum is very candid about being a bit late to the premium party but Bacardi says now is the time to strike.

“It is the right time to premiumise, educate and spark a conversation among the new generation of drinkers about the versatility, variety, mixability and craftsmanship of rums, leveraging Bacardi as the lighthouse brand,” Bermudez says. “All other spirits categories have already migrated to the super-premium-plus segment and rum still has the opportunity to evolve to where other categories have gone in terms of premiumisation.”

Hall at Appleton says premiumisation is the key to the growth of the rum category. “Rum has all the elements that appeal to a premium consumer base – a rich history and heritage, authenticity and quality liquids, as well as a more light-hearted side, which consumers find very appealing.

“Rum is also one of the key major spirits categories that has not had significant premiumisation on a global level and we believe the time is ripe for the category to premiumise.”

But patience is required. Creating quality rum doesn’t happen overnight and true quality is not instant. The “smoke and mirrors approach” is not fooling anyone or doing the category any favours, according to Holland.

He puts forward vodka as an example. “Vodka has many examples of ‘premium’. It is a smoke and mirrors approach – neutral spirit in a pretty bottle with no authentic value. A lot of rums do the same thing.”

That’s not to say that some rums don’t warrant their price tags. “I understand that if you are making small batch it has a higher cost. Some of the craft rums that are coming out are amazing but some are not and it can put people off.”


Age statements can also put people off. Holland says: “Older is not always better. We need to get past that as well – the taste profile is paramount and once people realise that there is amazing complex, tasty and downright lovely rum/rhum/cachaça out there, they rarely turn back.

“Some of the most exciting rums/rhums/cachaça I’ve tried have been unaged. Consumers just need a route to experience it – so education, sampling and getting in front of people is key. Fewer jokers in the market will seriously help.”

Rum will always be a vast and complex category. If the jokers in the pack can be weeded out and dark, aged rum can finally be realised as the next big thing then sales might recover, but it is generally agreed that you have to scratch the surface and dig a bit deeper to find the true quality through the smoke and mirrors.

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