Experts are predicting premium rum could be the ‘next gin’ as drinks giants jostle to add brands to their portfolios.
Even Moët Hennessy is getting in on the act – it recently announced the creation of Eminente Cuban rum.
“Our spirits brands cultivate excellence in viticulture, distilling, selecting eaux-de-vie, ageing and blending,” said Philippe Schaus, President and CEO of Moët Hennessy. “We are proud to draw on our 250 years of experience to create an exceptional new Cuban rum.”
Eminente is the creation of César Martí, the youngest Cuban Maestro Ronero (Rum Master), who drew inspiration from 19th-century Cuban sugarcane eaux-de-vie.
Here’s how Moët Hennessy describes the rum: high-quality molasses from sugar cane is distilled to 75% ABV, creating subtle Cuban eaux-de-vie with rich aromas. They are aged in ex-whisky white oak barrels. To give them vitality, the aguardientes are then blended with light Cuban rum of 95% ABV and then aged again, generally for a minimum of seven years. With 70% older aguardientes, the Eminente blend is the most aged of all Cuban rums.
It’s been a tough year for rum, with Euromonitor International predicting that sales in the category will drop by 16% to 128.7 million cases. However, the category is estimated to grow to 135 million nine‐litre cases by the end of next year.
While sales for white rum at the entry level are predicted to continue to struggle, the real growth is being seen in premium and spiced rums.
Dawn Davies MW, Head Buyer at The Whisky Exchange, told Forbes: “Whisky has the largest percentage of our sales but rum is now sitting in second place with significant growth over the last two years – 57% category growth year over year.
“In our premium rum category, we have seen over 123% increase in value year on year.”
Anne Martin, international marketing director at Havana Club, said product innovation and experimentation have been key drivers of growth for the sector.
“The category has reinvented itself as a highly fashionable and a credible alternative to high‐quality dark spirits, with both consumers and the drinks trade demonstrating a growing appetite and interest within this multifaceted category,” she told Spirits Business. “Rum is a versatile spirit that can play into multiple fields, which means it appeals to a wide range of consumers, of a legal drinking age, looking for unique experiences.”
Australia’s rum revival
While the Caribbean and Latin America are regarded as the heartlands of rum, Australia was literally built on the spirit – it arrived with the First Fleet in 1788 and was used as currency in the colony for decades.
The country’s most famous rum is Bundaberg Rum, which was first produced in 1889. Up until the ‘60s, Bundy was still sold in barrels, with agents putting their own label on it. These days it wins international awards, including World’s Best Rum Liqueur at the 2019 World Rum Awards.
Earlier this year, Saleyards Distillery in Rockhampton took out the spiced rum category at the 2020 World Rum Awards, while judges crowned Brisbane-produced Substation No. 41 ‘Rum of the Year’ at the third annual London Spirits Competition.
Meanwhile, Coca-Cola Amatil’s Rum Co. of Fiji won Rum Distillery of the Year at this year’s Melbourne International Spirits Competition, with their premium rum ranges, Bati and Ratu winning Gold, Silver and Bronze medals.
According to IRI, dark rum is performing well in Australia with 13.4% value growth, but the star performer is spiced rum, with 20.6% value growth, which is outperforming the overall glass spirits segment.