Explosive growth fuels rum renaissance

Experts are predicting that 2023 will finally be the year rum is taken seriously as a high-quality spirit that ranks alongside Cognac and single malt Scotch whisky, as the category experiences explosive growth.

While it’s been predicted to be “the next big thing” for many years, rum has been previously overshadowed by the meteoric rise of craft whisky and gin.

However, premium-plus rum sales are booming, with volumes expected to climb by a CAGR of +6% between 2021 and 2026, with value increasing by a CAGR of +6.5%, the IWSR forecasts.

While consumption is heavily concentrated in the US, the category is also performing well in a number of other countries, including European markets (France, UK, Germany, Italy, Spain and Belgium/Luxembourg), Canada and Australia.

Growth is being fuelled by the continued spread of cocktail culture, but also by a change of image for rum.

“The change in perception of rum from a spirit that is drunk mixed to one that can be sipped continues,” says Jose Luis Hermoso, Research Director, IWSR. “Premium-and-above rum is therefore growing at the expense of lower qualities.”

In the UK, sales of rum have surpassed £1 billion a year, meaning it now accounts for a bigger market share than whisky. Its growth was attributed to ‘surging interest from younger consumers’, according to the Nielsen IQ data.

“We’ve been predicting growth in the rum category for some time now, but its performance since the end of Covid-19 restrictions has been phenomenal,” said CGA client director Paul Bolton.

“Rum’s versatility in cocktails and the explosion of new flavours have both helped to pull in new drinkers, and the successful positioning of premium brands has encouraged a lot of people to trade up from mainstream options.”

Drinks giants jostle for a piece of the action

In January, Diageo has reached an agreement to acquire super-premium Don Papa Rum, a dark rum from the Philippines. Diageo’s purchase followed just weeks after Brown-Forman completed its acquisition of the super-premium Diplomático Rum brand.

Diageo Europe and India President John Kennedy said: “We are excited by the opportunity to bring Don Papa into the Diageo portfolio to complement our existing rums. This acquisition is in line with our strategy to acquire high growth brands with attractive margins that support premiumisation, and enables us to participate in the fast growing super-premium plus segment.” 

Australia’s rum renaissance

Aussies have always loved their rum – it was even our official currency during convict days, so it’s hardly surprising Australia is leading the charge when it comes to the craft rum segment.

Rum was a stand-out at last week’s London Spirit Awards, with the judges noting there was a solid growth in participation of rum distillers, “showing signs that rum is expected to grow in 2023”. 

Among the Australian rum distillers that scored Gold medals were Archie Rose White Cane Rum. FNQ Rum Co. Platinum and Brix White Rum.

Brix, Sydney’s only dedicated craft rum distillery, unveiled its new-look core range of 100% Australian rums last week.

For the last five years, Brix has been on a mission to reinvent Australian rum. In an effort to challenge the misconceptions and clichés of pirates, polar bears and tattoo’s, the team set out to educate Aussies on how to best embrace rum, beginners or aficionados alike.

Brix is now crafted with all-Australian ingredients and matured in Sydney in local wine casks. It includes Brix Australian Rum, aged in Australian red wine casks for three years; Brix Australian Spiced Rum, infused with local spices, fruits and nuts; and Brix Australian Cane Spirit, crafted from premium Australian molasses and sourced from the canefields of Queensland.

“After five years of Australian rum education, appreciation and celebration, Brix is now able to release the local Australian rums we have been striving to produce along the first part of our long rum journey,” said Brix Distillers co-founder James Christopher.

The BRIX Core Range is available for purchase today, $80RRP, via BRIX distillers online store, leading retailers or from the Surry Hills distillery. Head to to find out more.

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