Boom or Bust?
The alcohol industry has many similarities to the fashion industry. Drinks come in and out of season, and we’re always talking about the latest trend, or what the new tipple of the season will be.
Like the fashion industry, trends are recycled over the years and ‘old fashioned’ drinks can suddenly become the drink. Look at what happened with spritzes over the past few years!
People in the industry have been talking about rum becoming ‘the next big thing’. There has been talk that the gin boom will start to drop off, (we’re not sure about that) but we do know, waiting for its decline in sales will be rum. A drink that sits quietly but confidently in the back of the drinks cabinet, awaiting its next pour.
It’s unrealistic to expect that we will have a gin style drinks boom every few years, we’re living in a gin-aissance and the popularity shows no sign of letting up. Trying to measure rum’s growth against gin’s success could well turn you to the bottle – but it’s not all doom and gloom.
The Nitty Gritty
If you look into the figures, you’ll see some very encouraging trends within the rum market.
The number of rum brands in the UK has almost quadrupled in the past 12 years to just under 200. The amount people are spending on rum is increasing, and whilst rum is not growing at the same rate as gin, it has broken through the £1 billion sales mark in the UK.
Like every drinks category, the big names in rum still dominate the volume of sales, however it’s great to see more independent brands emerging – many of them being home grown brands.
We still see plenty of brands who import their rum into the UK, then blend or add spices – nothing wrong with that at all. However, there are some new, exciting, UK distilled rums starting to spring up.
The industry has demonstrated amazing amounts of self-confidence in their ability to domestically produce great tasting rum.
These distillers aren’t afraid to experiment in an old and well established drinks category and say- ‘hey, we can produce a rum which is as good, if not better, than ones from the Caribbean.’
Many nations have started to produce high quality whisky – India, Japan, Australia to mention a few, why shouldn’t a nation in a colder climate produce great rums?
Old Salt Rum from the English Distillery in Cambridge has proved that you don’t necessarily need to import your liquid to create a multi award winning rum. Greensand Ridge in Kent is starting to produce some cracking rums too!
Matugga Rum – which started its journey at the same distillery as Old Salt Rum, is now distilled in Scotland. They show that British rum can unite various ingredients and influences to produce a world class tipple.
East African ingredients, West Indian influence and English oak make their rums a great example of how fusing traditions does work – even if they are matured in a much chiller country.
Where to Now?
t is clear to us, there is a quiet revolution going on in the background of the drinks industry and the liquid gold is creeping up the popularity ranks.
Consumer awareness will always drive growth in the premium section of a category and that’s what is happening with rum.
No longer are people just using white rum to make mojitos, people are willing to spend more on rum, looking for more interesting flavours and even buying super-premium rums to invest in.
Bar owners are noticing a trend in people exploring the market of different rum brands and a willingness to pay more for the more premium brands.
This is an encouraging sign, which will hopefully be reflected in the much larger, home consumption market.
What’s the right serve for premium rum?
Gin has been lucky in the fact that a G&T is already an established serve, premiumised just at the right time by Fever Tree tonic.
Great gin can be mixed with a premium tonic and an interesting garnish at home or in your local bar to make it feel special. Hey, you might even get lucky and have it served in a balloon glass!
When it comes to rum, there is no such serve that can be premiumised in my opinion. Rum and coke is fine for white rums or spiced rums, but you really don’t want to be mixing a premium rum with coke – even if it is Coca Cola from a bottle and not Pepsi from a soda gun!
This leaves the rum drinker without an obvious go to, easy to make, long rum drink – although there are some great examples now of mixer brands who have liquids that are fantastic to mix with rum – think Lixir Tonics or Sekforde Mixers.
If someone cracks this rum serve, I believe the premium rum category could expand a lot quicker than the present rate.
Originally posted on LinkedIn by Phil Harding on 28th May 2019