WHEN it comes to rum sales in Scotland’s pubs and bars, it seems it’s a tale of two halves.
According to CGA figures, the value of white rum sold in the Scottish on-trade was down 4.5% to £22.5 million in the year to May 2016, while sales of golden and dark rum climbed 12.5% to top £84.7m.
And the firms behind some of the trade’s biggest rum brands reckon golden and dark rums could be in line for further growth still, as demand for darker spirits looks set to increase during autumn and winter.
Stephen Rutherford, rum specialist at William Grant & Sons UK, whose rum brands include OVD dark rum and spiced variant Sailor Jerry, said although the spirit is popular all year round due to its use in “longer refreshing drinks” like the Mai Tai, he expects sales of golden and dark rums to increase in the coming weeks.
“I see this as something that happens naturally every year and not necessarily just this year with the current gin boom and so on,” he said.
“Darker spirits immediately portray a richer and warmer spirit which lends itself to winter very well.”
Nick Williamson, marketing director at Campari UK – the firm behind Jamaican rum brands Appleton Estate and Wray & Nephew, agreed, saying that rum’s versatility has helped broaden its appeal.
“In the past, consumers may have only ever encountered white rum mixed with soft drinks such as cola, but they are now more confident to try more creative cocktails, which bring the rich flavours of golden rum to more prominence,” he said.
“When it comes to cocktails, the versatility of rum means it can be enjoyed year-round. Summers do see a surge in seasonal rum cocktails like the Mai Tai, but this is followed in autumn/winter months by drinks like the Jamaican Mule, which has a warming spicy kick to it.”
The importance of cocktails was underlined by Faith Holland, head of on-trade category development at Diageo, whose rum brands include Captain Morgan. According to Holland, adding cocktails to a menu can increase spirits sales by 36%, which she said offers a “real opportunity”.
Ceri Lewis at wholesaler Matthew Clark agreed, saying “cocktails continue to thrive and rum benefits as part of this”. Operators looking to maximise rum sales should ensure they stock a range of rums, including a spiced variant, she said.
“Nearly 40% of outlets still don’t stock one and yet it accounts for about a third of sales, so represents a massive opportunity,” said Lewis.
“Offer a comprehensive range including all types of rum and create a price ladder giving you the opportunity to up-sell.”