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SB Voices: Rum on the rise

As rum starts to enjoy its renaissance, Nicola Carruthers takes a look at some of the trends that are gaining pace in the world’s third-largest spirits category.

Rum is having a good year – UK rum sales are set to exceed £1 billion this year

Last week a report by the Wine & Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) revealed that UK rum sales are set to exceed £1 billion this year.

The latest figures from the WSTA’s annual Spirits Report, which details total spirit sales from last year, revealed that Brits bought almost 34 million bottles of rum in 2016 – worth £960 million.

If sales continue at the same pace this year, the industry will break the £1bn mark, a barrier that gin sales broke last year.

Premiumisation has the potential to grow the category, with consumers becoming more interested in age and provenance. Diageo’s premium Guatemalan rum – Zacapa, launched its most premium expression ever last year, Zacapa Royale, which retails at €290 (about US$307).

Appleton Estate, who were acquired by Campari in 2012, also has a strong focus on age statements, adding a 50-year-old expression to its range in 2012. At the time it was the world’s oldest commercially available rum.

Speaking to The Spirits Business in February, Campari UK managing director Pietro Mattioni said the premium-plus rum segment in the UK will “definitely develop”, driven by consumer interest in quality aged spirits. It seems age could be significant in the growth of rum.

Whereas some big brands are taking a different approach. William Grant & Son’s spiced rum Sailor Jerry, who was also our 2017 Brand Champion, is known for its dismissal of premiumisation.

The brand attributed its growth to “impactful experiential partnerships” including its collaboration with cosmetics brand Kiehl’s Since 1851 and more recently, arts and culture festival Visions. The partnerships have worked in its favour, with the brand passing the million case sales mark for the first time following continued success in the US.

Meanwhile Diageo-owned Captain Morgan also partnered with Leicester City footballer Wes Morgan to promote the brand on its bottle label and in a new campaign. It seems marketing activities are also the way forward to increasing sales and momentum.

When it comes to cocktails, rum is also naturally well placed in one of the world’s most well known serves, the Mojito. Havana Club has become a staple rum in many speed rails in bars across the world.

From an on-trade prospective, rum brands continue to build trade relationships with cocktails across all levels, from the Chairman’s Reserve Mai Tai competition in the UK to Bacardi’s Legacy cocktail competition which attracts high profile bartenders from around the world.

Looking ahead to 2018, and with the general trend of premiumisation across the spirits sector, I anticipate it will be another strong year for rum.

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