Rum lightens up

Jones confesses that the popularity of aged rums means white rum isn’t a category Clément focuses heavily on in the US, but he does recognise its importance: “We don’t make the best aged rum without first making the best white rum. There’s a unique flavour profile.

“In white rum we focus on the cocktail market, bars, restaurants and hotels that want something unique and different and don’t necessarily need that loss leader.”


For Bacardi, consumer education and better understanding of white rum is key. Bermudez says the on-trade will be the driver.

He says: “The on-trade has certainly played a role in driving awareness of brown spirits, including aged rums. The rise of complex cocktails and classics from the golden era of bitters and amaros helped drive the use of brown spirits. However, the craft cocktail scene is currently experiencing a return to simplicity in cocktails, simple infusions, and a heightened focus on service. White rum cocktails will play a bigger role in this trend cycle.”

Paul Rutasikwa, co-founder of Matugga Beverages – producers of a new British craft rum – believes standard expressions of white rum maintain a significant place within the on-trade and off-trade due to the competitive price point. He says: “However, current industry trends reveal a downturn in fortunes, some of which can be attributed to increased competition from golden, dark and spiced rums. The recent launches of new white rum variants are encouraging, and could be a welcome stimulus for the category.”

Looking ahead, he says: “All trends point towards growth in the premium and super-premium end of the spirits market, and there are a few brands that are leading the way towards the premiumisation of white rum. The increasing availability of high-quality white rums, particularly from smaller craft producers, could elevate consumer interest, experimentation and appreciation of category.

“We believe that the future trend will be for producers/rum brands to innovate by creating new, exciting varieties of white rums for discerning consumers and rum connoisseurs. Producers of craft, premium and sipping white rums will also seek to promote new ways to enjoy their expressions in order to justify the position as a top-end offering.”

Rutasikwa has put his money where his mouth is and is seeking to extend Matugga’s portfolio with a white rum. Why now? He says: “We feel that the tide that is currently elevating the profile of golden, dark and spiced rums, could also be leveraged to raise the image and appreciation of the white rum category among rum connoisseurs and aspirational consumers. It is also important to remember that there are parts of the world where only white spirits are consumed. There is potential for growth in those regions if producers can seize the opportunity.”

Another new entrant will come in the form of Saint James. Nadège Perrot, international brand manager for Saint James rum, says: “White rum will follow the same trend as the whole rum category, that is to say that consumers will be more and more implicated and interested by the elaboration process, the origin, the history, the tradition behind each rum. That’s the reason why we’ll be launching soon a new Saint James white rum reference for the international market.”