Friday, November 25, 2016

What is Holding Rum Back from a Stronger Position in the World of Spirits?

     It’s a shame there is no rum authority that is the equivalent of the Scotch Whisky Association.  During the past year there has been a movement within the rum industry to standardize rum expressions.  This is being set up to allow the consumer to have a better idea of what they are getting.  Education is needed to circumvent lingering consumer confusion, especially where many of today’s rum drinkers are “very curious” an nowhere to go to find out what the rum they are buying really is.

     “In Jamaica, legislation is very clear: you cannot use the solera method.” This ensures any age statements on the bottles are the minimum age, rather than an average. And it would seem the discrepancies across the category are proving frustrating.   Much of the other dark rums frankly use the solera method, where there is no way to put a honest age statement for.  What is holding the category back from a full and meaningful premiumization?   The problem of rum is that it is perceived by the products of a few very large brands that have no category wide regulation.  This is dragging down the whole category.  Once you take out of the age statements, and taste all of these aged rums, the differences will become clear.   The way to address this issue is through the education of the customers.

     Richard Seale of Foursquare Distillery in Barbados is trying to put rum into classifications like those of the whiskey producers.  For years Richard Seale has been on a campaign to purify the rum category.  He wants rum to become an honest spirit with rules.   We can still make rums like we are with his system, but the public will better understand what they are really getting in the bottle.   Richard Seale and others have devised a new structure for the way rums are labeled.   Seale said, "We are proposing a new rum classification”, we have to get away from talking about rum in terms of color and country styles, which are meaningless.
     With a strong system to insure that the customer knows and understands what they are buying, the rum will be able to satisfy its wide variety of customer tastes.  Rum is in a unique situation in that rum’s customers run the range from entry level drinkers that only want the taste of additives like spices and flavorings to effecianatos that want to taste the pure flavors of the spirit and what the skills of the distiller and the barrel can add to it.  There is a place for all of these styles of rum; the thing that it will take to make the category grow is honesty, not only in age statements, but in additives as well.