Spirit getting a rum deal

9th November, 2011 by Dominic Roskrow

Angostura rum’s John Georges is a man on a mission.

“TRINIDADIAN RUM is playing catch up, there is no doubt about that. For years people have known about Jamiaica and Bob Marley, and people know about Barbados. But Trinidad is not so well known.

“More than that, for the whole category we have a huge job on our hands. When you line rum up against the huge forces of Cognac or whisky it’s a hard battle. But that’s why I’m here. My job is to find apostles for our rum and if I find 12, hopefully they will each tell 12 people and so on. But it’s a long and slow process.”

John Georges is senior manager for special projects at Angostura Rum, and he’s speaking at the end of a gruelling month-long world trek promoting his country’s rum.He’s articulate, passionate and refreshingly honest, and hard as his task may be, you suspect he’s winning the battle. And he has two inter-related factors working in his favour: the familiarity of his company because of its world famous bitters, and the resurence of interest in cocktail making.

“I think we fail to realise how big that product is,” he says. “It’s known from Australia to Alaska and we need to take advantage of that and ride on the back of its success. And the renewed interest in cocktails is helping with that.

“We have a major cocktail competition and we have to make it the biggest in the world. We ask entrants to make two cocktails, one with rum, but both using Angostura Bitters. In this way we can bring people to our rum.”

John says the biggest battle is getting people to take the category seriously.

“There are no restrictions or definitions on what rum is and what they make in, say, Australia is very different to what we do. People across the world will always make spirits and sugar molasses is one of the cheapest ways of doing it so there are all sorts of terrible rums out there.

“You can make rum with syrup, with molaasses, in different ways. It’s like playing music. The note each time may be an A, but that A is sounds different wehen played on a violin to when it’s played on a tuba. And it sounds different on a viola than a violin.

“That’s where we are with rum. But what we have to try and do is maintain integrity.”

For the last month John has been away from home pushing that message. Is he encouraged?

“Certainly there is an interest among bar managers and mixologists for something different so, yes, I think so,” he says.

“The great thing about being a small brand is that you don’t have to sell millions of cases though that would be nice.

“How big is big enough? Who knows. But certainly the interest seems to be there.”

Leave a Reply

Subscribe to our newsletter