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Rum: age statements ‘do not matter’

Consumers need to be re-educated about the significance of age statements associated with rum and understand the importance of maturation better, a distiller has stated.

Bacardi UK brand ambassador Metinee Kongsrivilai explaining the distillation process of Bacardi rums

In a London Cocktail Week (LCW) seminar called ‘Does age matter? An exploration with the expert’ hosted by Bacardi UK brand ambassador, Metinee Kongsrivilai in association with Abhishek Banik, former teaching assistant of the International Centre for Brewing and Distilling and distiller of Ogilvy Spirits, Banik stated that “maturation is what’s important, not ageing”.

The hour-long presentation delved into the importance of age statements for rum, its involvement in the character of the product and other factors that contribute to the flavour, taste and appearance of the spirit.

“If you age it for too long you get too much of the wood,” Banik said. “People focus on the number of years something has been aged, but maturation is what’s important, not ageing.

“The whisky industry has already realised it and there are definitely parallels to be drawn across the both categories, but I think the rum industry has got a job making people aware that age does not equal quality.”

Defining quality

Both Kongsrivilai and Banik stressed that Bacardi’s focus was not on age as each product is blended to a specific flavour profile, not time frame.

Bacardi 8 is the only Bacardi rum to carry a number, which represents the youngest rum in the blend rather than the oldest because the “oldest rum varies as we blend to a specific flavour profile,” explained Kongsrivilai.

“Consumers are more curious and more picky to understand about quality,” Kongsrivilai added. “They are definitely interested but they have not reached that stage where they really understand that age doesn’t define a product’s quality.”

Looking ahead, Banik emphasised the importance of reaching out and educating consumers, and encouraged producers to educate consumers away from focusing on age through blind tasting events.

“There are so many misconceptions about age and rum,” he said. “The industry needs to get consumers involved in simple blind tastings where they don’t know the age of the rum and make them understand what maturation means, is not age.”

The topic of age statements has been rife among whisky producers recently, with some raising concerns it could have a negative impact on the brown spirits industry. 

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