For those in the know when it comes to rum, its wide range of flavours and types, ability to mix with numerous other drinks, and rich cultural history all add up to make a wonderful drink that you can come back to again and again. However, it seems rum’s difficulty lies with attracting new drinkers. With the revelation that rum sales are set to exceed £1bln in the UK in 2018, it’s clear that interest is finally on the rise, but one question must be asked: why has it taken this long for rum to catch up with the likes of gin, which already reached sales of £1.2bln at the end of December 2017? With this in mind, we’re exploring the possible reasons why people are taking longer to warm to rum, and why these reservations are being shattered to allow rum to finally take the spotlight in 2018.
Distillery woes… is the wait over?
The trials and tribulations involved in making rum could be a key factor in the lack of enthusiasm for the spirit. It can be years before a start-up rum distillery sees any real results, as Global Rum Ambassador Ian Burrell explains: ‘“You can make a craft gin within a couple of days but with rum to get your consumer to pay a premium, they want to see it aged.” Perhaps, then, 2018 in particular is the year that sales will exceed £1bln because rum distilleries are finally catching up, new distilleries are coming into their own, and though it may have been a slower process, it is certainly set to win the race.
Getting to know rum
Of course, it isn’t just the lack of new distilleries to blame for a lack of rum enthusiasm in past years. Perhaps people who wouldn’t consider themselves fans of rum simply haven’t been exposed to the wide range of flavours and uses for the spirit. In some part, this gap in supply and demand between distiller and consumer is being bridged by the bartenders who know and love the drink, and know exactly how to use it. Whilst rum might not be the obvious choice at the bar for many, the rise in popularity of Caribbean and Tiki bars, which provide experiences such as rum tasting boards, and even cocktails that utilise several different types of rum at once, means that these days, exposure to the spirit is hard to avoid.
Tasting boards in particular are set to encourage new rum drinkers who wouldn’t necessarily buy a whole bottle, but are happy to sample in small, and perhaps buy a bottle at a later date after finding their favourites. A neat rum may be an unusual drink of choice for most, but a Piña colada, Mai Tai, Daiquiri or mojito certainly isn’t, so lack of enthusiasm for rum could be down to a lack of knowledge, and learning how to identify and sample different types will certainly help to bring the spirit into huge popularity in 2018 and beyond.
Rum with a dash of ethics
With its origins usually grounded in underprivileged areas of the Caribbean Islands, many rum brands are now attempting to give something back to the countries that provide their molasses, so that buying imports isn’t the only way they help out. To exemplify, Atlántico Rum, which imports from the Dominican Republic, has partnered with Fundación MIR, a charity founded in 1988 that works to provide education to the children of the greater La Romana area who are most in need. The charity runs three schools that cater to the needs of more than 1,000 children. With more and more people choosing to invest their time and money into ethical brands, Atlántico is one to watch in 2018.
2018 is guaranteed to be an exciting time for rum, as enthusiasm continues to soar. Perhaps, in the UK in particular, many people are realising that a drink that reminds you of relaxing on a beach when you’re stuck in rainy England can only be a good thing.
Roop Kahlon, Regional Ambassador for Atlántico rum, said the following,
“The craft drinks movement is certainly inspiring the rum category. There have been a high number of new artisan rum brands launching around the world in the last few years. The rise of the rum cocktails is another successful trend, with the popularity of the Mojito, Mai Tai and Pina Colada contributing greatly in the growth and development of the rum market. Rum will certainly catch up to the gin category in 2018!”
Claire Sumner-Hughes, Business Development Manager for Ian Macleod Distillers, UK Distributors for Atlántico Rum, said the following:
“Of course, it seems biased for me to say, but rum is definitely on the rise. More and more people are discovering that it’s not only a versatile drink, but it is one that always turns into a firm favourite. With sales set to soar in 2018, we’re excited for more and more people to discover what we’ve known about rum all along- that it’s a fantastic spirit and it truly deserves its moment in the spotlight.”