A way of life

“One of the challenges for the rum industry is to be more transparent about the production process. Sugar, caramel and other sweetening have been used for centuries in the rum industry but today consumers want to know what goes into their drink. 

“Stricter rules, such as in the French Caribbean, might be an option to consider for the rest of the rum-producing countries,” says Barzini.

“Innovation, innovation, innovation,” says Jordi Xifra Keysper, product manager at the Dominican Republic’s Beveland. Its best-selling rum is Cayo Grande and it has a new 12-year-old called Ron Relicario.

“The category has to evolve. The rum category is suffering more than others. I think rum is the category that has innovated less versus other categories. At the same time, we have to take into account the current economic situation. I think the dark aged rums that will perform better will be the rums with an ageing of one to three years.”


Gruppo Campari’s global integration director for rum, Richard Black, says: “We believe dark aged rums will be at the forefront of the premiumisation of the rum category. 

“Rum is THE spirit in Jamaica, so there is a much wider cross section of drinkers in that market, but there are certainly some overlaps. Further internationalisation of the Appleton Estate portfolio is one of the key strategies for Gruppo Campari moving forward. Premium rum is not really defined in the consumer’s mind in the
US so that represents a big opportunity for us.  

“Gruppo Campari also has strong routes to market in countries such as Italy and Germany, where Appleton Estate has historically not had a strong business. So we are excited about the propositions for the brand in these markets. There are also opportunities for us in the UK, Spain and France and we plan to keep on building in Asia Pacific where we have a strong business in New Zealand but, looking more long term, we think Asia shows promise,” says Black.

Mangrove UK managing director Nick Gillett says: “We are seeing a growing interest in dark spirits generally among both trade and consumers – and this is a great opportunity for dark aged rums. It’s not just about trading up entry-level rum drinkers – we’re finding that consumers are switching from other dark spirits categories to explore dark rums. They are seeking out authentic brands with provenance from different countries of origin and the trade is keen to meet this demand. 

“This is why we’ve up-weighted our rum portfolio to include four premium brands: Blackwell Fine Jamaican Rum, Elements 8 (St Lucia), Santa Teresa from Venezuela and, most recently, the Pink Pigeon – the world’s finest vanilla spiced rum from Mauritius. 

“Consumers are now drinking premium and super-premium rums both on the rocks and in cocktails. There’s a lot more experimentation going on in dark aged rum cocktails, particularly in the top-end bars. We’ve worked hard with our key customers to develop new and recognisable cocktails such as the Elements 8 Dark and Spicy. We’re also seeing more branded bar call and a real desire to understand the different flavours of premium aged rums. It’s very exciting,” he says.

“Our key dark aged rum brand is Blackwell Fine Jamaican Rum, created by Chris Blackwell of Island Records fame. There’s a lovely story to this brand as Chris was one of the leading pioneers to bring Jamaican reggae music to the world. The rum has a unique punchy style, thanks to the island’s love of pot stills and long fermentation times. It is this method of production that gives this luxury rum not just added weight but a distinctive intensity,” says Gillett.