An age-old question

In terms of markets, Seale says the biggest are wherever scotch and cognac have led. “The best of rum can follow and surpass,” he adds.

According to IWSR, the largest premium and above rum markets by volume are the US, the Dominican Republic, Canada, Venezuela and the UK. De Rojas says the key markets for Zacapa tally with these territories. “But we are also focusing on promoting the benefits of aged rum to consumers in the US, Europe, Central and Latin America and global travel, as countries which might be further from our source of Guatemala, with a lower level of understanding on how rum is made.”


Alongside communication and education, many believe innovation is the key to unlocking the aged rum category.

“If you look at what has been happening in the gin category, there has been increased innovation from producers large and small in response to massive consumer demand,” De Rojas says. “This innovation is transcending categories and we are seeing a halo effect in the rum sector, especially with regards to premium or aged and spiced rum.”

Havana Club’s Blacknell agrees the future for the aged rum category is bright and that it has all the credentials to step up as the next experience in luxury spirits.

Hamilton is similarly optimistic of growth, but cautions: “After consumers become disenfranchised about all the additives and fake rums in the market, there will be a shakeout. Rum producers and importers need to take a page from the history of whisk(e)y and tequila. To reach its full potential the rum industry is going to have to be transparent and credible and the sooner it starts being accountable the further it is going to grow.”