A flavourful spirit that’s on the up

Recent stats show rum sales are growing. Is your range good enough?

Rum is suited to a wide range of serves, say drinks firms.
On-trade sales are said to be up

ACCORDING to CGA figures supplied for SLTN’s recent Top Brands feature, rum sales in Scotland’s pubs and bars grew in the course of the past year to more than £110 million.

And this could be just the tip of the iceberg, with some drinks firms predicting a “rum revival” similar to the recent boom in the gin sector.

Amy Burgess, trade communications manager at Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP), the firm behind Schweppes, said the recent growth in the rum category “is showing no sign of slowing down”.

“In fact, [UK] rum sales tipped the £1 billion sales mark for the first time last year, which is a milestone gin achieved in 2016,” she said.

“Mirroring the ‘ginaissance’, a key factor to this resurgence is the wide variety of rums now available on the market, catering to consumers’ appetite for new flavours and experiences.

“The premiumisation trend has also been key to this growth, with premium rums growing by 15.1%.”

Sarah Doyle, VP of marketing for Europe at Bacardi, agreed.

She said that in the past five years, UK rum sales have grown 15% in volume terms, but 32% in value.

“To continue growth, operators should look to stock a range of rums at different price points,” said Doyle.

Golden and dark rums continue to lead the way in Scotland, worth a combined £92m in bars and pubs, according to CGA.

And even within this section of the market, tastes are changing, according to John Campbell, commercial director at Top Spirits, which imports and distributes the Relicario Ron Dominicano and Ron Palma Mulata de Cuba rums.

“Tastes have changed and with more people travelling to countries like Cuba, experiencing the different styles and ranges, the consumers are then looking to share those experiences when they get home,” said Campbell.

“They are looking for a larger range of different styles and quality rums.”

He added that if operators are going to meet this growing demand they should consider stocking rums from a range of different countries and in a variety of different styles.

And as with other types of spirit, provenance is more important to rum drinkers than ever.

“The words ‘provenance’ and ‘rum’ are starting to connect,” said Paul Stanley, director of Cloven Hoof Rum.

“Quality rums have a country of origin listed on the bottle.

”Nobody would drink a whiskey labelled ‘European’ would they?”

Stanley was supported by Jonny Shields, brand activation manager for Brugal 1888 at Edrington-Beam Suntory.

“In my opinion, customers are becoming increasingly interested in the history and heritage behind drinks brands as well as their signature serves,” said Shields. 

“With the rum category, it is important that bartenders have sound background knowledge and are clued up on current popular cocktail serves, enabling them to take their customers through the menu.”

In fact, one of the strengths of rum as a spirit is its versatility and suitability for cocktails, said firms.

Shields said: “When it comes to rum, traditional cocktails such as the Mojito will always go down a storm – but the beauty of rum is that it is fantastically versatile, meaning bartenders can experiment and be innovative with cocktails.”

Stanley, from Cloven Hoof, went one further, declaring that rum “is a more versatile liquid than gin and bartenders need to be trained on a few basic serves to maximise rum sales”.