The Successful Climb of a Drink with History
It’s becoming a favorite on the red carpet runways where until recently it was mentioned only at the end.
Some years back, in 2001, the expert, Dave Broom had already remarked that: “Rum is the forgotten distillate.”
This Scottish writer (major reference in the world of distillates) is familiar with the history of Rum: “It’s a drink that drove the birth of many nations. It helped to create capitalism, with it, colonialism, and it’s still there, center stage, while the world becomes globalized.”
“Those devoted to rum have been slaves, pirates and smugglers, besides artists, mixers and waiters. Rum was the slaves’ currency; it tendered huge fortunes to some, and helped others conquer their desolation.
“It also gave sailors and soldiers the bravery necessary for battle; rum was one of the protagonists in Prohibition in recent times, and was also at the core of international trade wars. Likewise, it’s become an essential element of Caribbean uniqueness.
No other drink comes close to it, the expert concludes. He’s right; in Bar chronicles there’s no mention of a distilled drink that can compete with its story and notoriety.
Rum was the first strong, amber-colored, inexpensive, accessible drink for the masses.
Fashioned in the middle of the Seventeenth Century, it became popular immediately and lasted until the end of the Second World War, when Modernity was rewritten and with it came changes in habits and options.
Just recently (at the end of the Twentieth Century and the beginning of this one) Rum was able to climb to the position of an elegant drink with its vintage and special rums.
In the world of liquor and spirited drinks, the creation of the Premium culture began recently. This is a marketing technique that favors Positioning. At the start, it just took into account long ageing processes, whose strategic success had been tried in whisky.
Next, the notion of Luxury was also included as a novelty, and later on, the perception of Quality in diversity was accentuated, dissociating it somewhat from its price. Al these tendencies are ongoing.
Its cycle is still not over; this was confirmed by presentations and the bottles presented during the last two World Rum Congresses (Congreso Mundial del Ron) held in Spain, towards the end of May. Among them, the Positioning of Premium rums must be highlighted. Premierization implies supreme quality (real or perceived), new packaging, ensuing price and marketing, intense marketing.
What are changes like
Premierization works, but not through one single channel or style. Why? Because it’s not defined by a single country, distilleries conglomerate, brands. It makes its way through different paths, at times not easily perceived by the consumer. We’ll explain them to you:
White Rum advances. Premium white rum wagers at captivating consumers away from vodka; it can do it. Ultimately, the first rum, the original one, was white, not amber-colored.
Amber-colored rum is a product of the ageing process (short, medium) in oaken caskets, which give it, among other things, pigmentation. Historians avow that white rum was the most consumed, even in producer countries, until Europe, in order to draw it nearer to cognac and whisky, began to age it in caskets and barrels.
White rum has a valued quality; “It can’t be disguised. It demands first-rate raw material, and an impeccable fermentation and distillation process.”
Less glasses, but more quality. Rum has accepted the changes in modern habits of consumption. Inspired by notions of sobriety/health (and traffic laws), the intake (in number of glasses) continues to diminish.
Fewer liters per capita are being drunk, worldwide. This cool and thoughtful drinking manner has opened up a space for Premium and Super Premium rums.
The second change in habits is the adjustment to current drinking hours. At present, a very high percentage is done during daytime.
Premierization implies three new values:
- More investment, and investment in the packaging design; it’s not just the bottle that’s important, the box in which it comes is also important.
- More limited production by numbered bottles, batches, and even by caskets (as in whisky). And once this listing of the production is accomplished, combination or singularity in style.
- Finally, more versatility in ageing styles. Unlike French Cognac or Brandy de Jerez, the periods and manners of ageing are not limited to a specific number of years.
Rum’s destination today
The number and location of rum-producing countries at present surprises lovers of this specialty, and those exploring it.
In the famous and historic area of the Caribbean, there are fourteen main rum-producing countries; in Latin America, there are nine, and in the rest of the world, counting the States, some fourteen more.
“There, where sugar cane grows, be it in India, Nepal, the Philippines, the Canary Islands, Australia or China, before or after, rum is eventually distilled.”
Not all 47 producers attend world contests or competitions of the specialty; hence, medals or fame are not instilled in your memory.
There are many tasting contests and evaluations of the distillate, as many as a producer would like to go to in search of a confrontation with a challenger.
In rum the most famous are specific competitions of the specialty (not counting whisky, vodka, and other distillates) and three others that include all spirited drinks.
Specialists in Branding coincide in pointing out that this drink is moving a lot in positioning and commercialization, in its aspiration of luxury.
There are four axis at present: Vintage (aged as in Wine and Oporto), and in contrast to this, the search and emphasis on Strength and Rusticity.
The panorama is completed by those who working on branding seek the notions of Exotic Origin, Respect for Nature and the Environment.
Special Rums and the upsurge of lightness and variety in the world of cocktails has opened new frontiers in drinking.
The interest of lady consumers in special rums detected by market research is particularly notable.
Young people who admit openly that they would have never drunk the rum their uncles and grandparents had, have joined the ladies; they’re looking for the exotic, different aromas, capacity for mixing and improvising, exploring more spice and fruit than the woods and the prolonged ageing.
Lastly, exploring rum from irreverence and mixtures has allowed the generation of millennials (born from 1990 on) to discover that rum doesn’t exist, but that there is a world of rum.
This is apparent in the behavior of the consumer among the stores specialized in liquor, wine and distillates. While the veteran buyer and the routine one advance rapidly to the specific place where they find their bottle, the new generation of rum lovers stalks the hundreds of bottles in leisure.
Some search for rum, others look for the new bottles of what is referred to as the drink that was history and legend before. And now is novelty and subtlety.