Is rum shaking off its party spirit image?

27th February, 2013 by Chris Mercer - This article is over multiple pages: 1 2 3

The ultimate party spirit, rum is coming of age, backed by a wave of premiumisation, acquisitions and an enduring global appeal. Chris Mercer reports.

Rum-pouring

Rum is moving away from a low-cost image, according to Botran’s Frank Quinones

Rum has travelled in many guises, as a mind-altering fortification for soldiers and sailors, as a household name in the pirating fraternity and as a symbol of hedonistic dirge in Hunter S Thompson’s The Rum Diary. These days, its Latino spirit is embodied by television adverts in which bartenders defy gravity with Bacardi bottles.

Such examples demonstrate rum’s enduring appeal and scope. Euromonitor International figures bear this out, projecting a solid, yet un-flamboyant, 17% rise in global rum volumes between 2011 and the end of 2016, to 1.7bn litres. What’s more, every region should contribute to growth.

In the 21st century, however, this historically unruly, good-time liquor is tentatively absorbing a few airs and graces, thanks to acquisitions and premiumisation cues around ageing, authenticity and cocktails.

“There’s a move away from a low-cost image,” says Frank Quinones, global director of Botran Aged Rums. “Three or four years ago, rum was rum. Now people are more knowledgeable about rum. They read about it, they want to improve their rum experience.”

Dark rum’s prestige is rising. In October, Botran exhibited its Solera and Reserva aged rums for the first time at the Tax Free World Exhibition show in Cannes. Launches in Western Europe and duty free in recent years will be followed by debuts in Russia and Czech in 2013. The Guatemala-based brand sells around 100,000 cases annually, but its medium- to long-term ambition is to hit 1m cases. Keep your eyes peeled, too, for a new aged expression in the not-too-distant future.

Guatemala is awash with aged rum. This adds useful context to Diageo’s acquisition of a 50% controlling stake in Guatemala-based Ron Zacapa, a sister brand of Botran. Via the £150m deal, Diageo is both joining, and helping to drive, opportunities in premium aged rum. Zacapa has cemented its place among Diageo’s high-end Reserve Brands after seeing net sales rise by “strong double-digit” percentage points in the firm’s last fiscal year. Europe and the Americas drove sales.

Diageo looks almost certain to delve deeper into premium Guatemalan rum. Zacapa owner Industrias Licoreras de Guatemala (ILG) has a “put” option that allows it to place remaining shares in Zacapa with Diageo in return for a fee “calculated on a profit multiple”. According to Diageo’s 2012 annual report, ILG can activate the clause after 2016.

Leave a Reply

If that's interesting, how about these?

Don Q releases spiced rum variant

Puerto Rican-rum brand Don Q has finally released its anticipated Oak Barrel more...

Mount Gay Rum releases next 1703 edition

French drinks group Rémy Cointreau has added a new variant to its high-end more...

Brown-Forman launches nutritional info site

Jack Daniel’s maker Brown-Forman has launched a website detailing its brands' more...

The week in pictures

This week Bulleit Bourbon unveiled the "first ever" tattoo billboard in Los more...

Ardgowan recruits former Bruichladdich and Diageo directors

Planned lowland distillery Ardgowan has appointed Bruichladdich's former more...

Registration opens for TFWA Asia Pacific 2017

Delegates are now able to register for the upcoming TFWA Asia Pacific more...

Scientists create 'brandy' in three days

Researchers in Spain have produced a grape spirit with the characteristics of more...

Moskovskaya intros lim-ed bottle as sales soar

Amber Beverage Group-owned Moskovskaya Vodka has unveiled its first limited more...

Tomintoul releases 21yo single malt

Angus Dundee Distillers has launched its new single malt Scotch whisky, more...

Appleton Estate unveils anniversary blend

Appleton Estate has honoured master blender Joy Spence's 20th year at the more...

Angostura appoints Jodhan as permanent CEO

Rum and bitters producer Angostura Holdings has confirmed its acting CEO more...

Miller’s Norway distillery intros cask-aged akevitt

Marcin Miller’s Norwegian distillery Oslo Håndverksdestilleri has released more...

Actor Javier Bardem stars in Chivas campaign

Pernod Ricard-owned Scotch whisky brand Chivas Brothers has enlisted Hollywood more...

Royal Dragon Vodka to grow GTR presence

Royal Dragon Vodka has announced a partnership with Gebr. Heinemann as part of more...

Diageo's India centre may serve 70 markets by 2020

Diageo's new India-based business services centre is "likely" to become one of more...

William Grant targets growth with new role

Glenfiddich Scotch whisky producer William Grant & Sons has snapped up former more...

Tito’s reveals South America TR strategy

Tito’s Handmade Vodka is to use the upcoming IAADFS Duty Free Show of the more...

Bacardi buys minority stake in Ilegal Mezcal

Bacardi has confirmed its acquisition of a minority stake in Ilegal Mezcal, but more...

Oldest Van Winkle ever bottled set for release

Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery is to launch an "extra special, one-time more...

Mattioni: Premium rums will ‘definitely develop’

The premium-plus rum segment in the UK will "definitely develop", driven by more...