Rum: pirate or premium?

19 December, 2018 by tallenby

For better or worse, rum has always been a rebellious spirit. This could be how it was raised, or it could be because it never had to abide by the rules like other spirits. But, as Tom Bulmer explains in the latest issue of BARS&clubs, one thing is for certain: rum has plenty of room to grow.

Over the last 10 years in Australia, we’ve seen a major shift in both consumer and trade perspectives of rum, which is greatly influencing rum’s direction. Gone are the days of rum being the “bogan” spirit, with the shift in rum’s perception largely being driven by investment in consumer and cocktail education by brands like Bundaberg. As more brands start to focus on the quality of their product and educating their drinkers, we are going to see an ongoing shift towards better products and guests that are happy to try them.

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Of course, the word on everyone’s lips at the moment is premiumisation. However, will rum be able to join the ranks of single malts and cognacs? And more importantly, should it? Rum has always been part of the cocktail scene, though its ability to be seen as a premium spirit has always been a difficult stretch for this pirate.

Nevertheless, rum brands have picked up on the opportunity and over the last couple of years we’ve started to see vintage, limited release, single still and even single vineyard rums enter the market – in many ways adopting the SKU structure that whisky has had for years. The fact is, consumers that order premium spirits already know this language and the idea of ordering based on these features resonates with them.

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