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The rum brands to watch in 2015

Rum is casting off its party image with super-premium and sipping expressions, but will the strategy work to win consumers over, and which brands will succeed? We pick our rum brands and trends to watch in 2015.

Rum brands are taking premiumisation seriously, but which will be the ones to watch in 2015?

Rum is frequently cast with the same party image as Tequila, and similarly for some time now, rum producers have sought to shake this reputation and entice a new generation of aspirational drinkers.

It is no secret that consumer knowledge across the spirits spectrum is growing, and with that so is their desire for more top-end offerings, with rum being no exception to the rule.

Earlier this year Diageo’s Ed Pilkington made the statement that the rum category has “lost its soul” in nightclubs and “fallen behind” other spirits categories as a result of its “devaluing” association with the international nightclub scene. His solution?

Premiumisation to “bring it back to its roots” expressing companies should be targeting “connoisseurs, not clubbers”. Unfortunately for rum, emerging market consumers hungry for more premium products are migrating to other more “fashionable” categories such as light brandy in the Philippines and whisky in India, both of which contributed to a 2.9% volume decline for rum last year (IWSR).

However, in an effort to move the category in the desired direction there has been an array of new launches in 2014. Bacardi said it hoped to premiumise the category “as a whole” with the launch of a new super-premium white sipping rum in global travel retail, Bacardi Gran Reserva Maestro de Ron.

The party continues

Furthermore the brand increased its footprint in the flavoured rum department with the launch of Bacardi Mango Fusion. But the brand is certainly not shying away from rum’s party persona – quite the opposite. Not too long ago, 1,862 fans were flown to the Bermuda Triangle for one of the world’s most elaborate events featuring music from Calvin Harris, Kendrick Lamar and Ellie Goulding.

Meanwhile, spiced rum is continuing to grow in popularity and stealing focus from white rum, which was always had a solid starting point among new rum drinkers. As such, UK boutique drinks distributor Maverick launched what it claims is the world’s first super-premium spiced rum, Rumbullion! XO. Also making headway in the spiced rum market is Lamb’s Navy Rum, which is set to launch a Spiced Cherry expression and a range of super-premium dark rums in the New Year. A smart move, perhaps, considering the UK’s rum market bucked the trend of decline, with quarterly sales up 6% and flavoured rum in particular soaring by 34% according to Wine and Spirits Trade Association (WSTA) figures. The organisation stated a trend of premiumisation was apparent providing “hope that the market may finally be turning a corner”.



  • Spiced rum will continue to grow with new flavour innovations emerging
  • A wave of sipping rums will come about as brands look to premiumise
  • A renewed focus on white rum as both a core cocktail spirit and premium sipper



Appleton Estate Rum launched its first major new marketing campaign in the US this year since Gruppo Campari bought the brand in 2013 for US$20m. It hopes to convey the provenance of the rum brand to consumers, who are increasingly holding brand provenance and heritage in high esteem.



Bacardi’s Facundo Rum Collection of sipping rums was rolled out to its third state this year, California, following initial launches in New York and Miami last year. The brand is targeting “markets primed for luxury rum” with the four super- and ultra-premium rums.



Pusser’s Rum made the bold move of lowering the abv of its flagship blue rum from 54.5% to just 40% – the maximum strength permitted in military bases. It is hoped the brand can regain distribution with naval bases and mess bars as a result.

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