Spiced rum leads the category as Birmingham Rum Festival returns

Jo Gilbert

Spiced rums will be leading the charge for this growing category at the Birmingham Rum Festival when it returns this summer.

Birmingham, one of – if not the – rum capital of England, boasts multiple rum-dedicated bars and specialists, including The Cuban Embassy, where the event is being hosted July 1. 

Rum-based operators in the city are reporting a growth in interest from consumers, particularly around spiced rums, which led to positive growth in the overall spirits sector last year, second only to gin, according to Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) figures for 2016.

Spirits specialists The Drinks Emporium, which stocks over 100 different varieties, reports 20% more sales of spiced rum than non-spiced.

‪“Spiced rums are really in vogue, appeal to a very large audience and can easily be adapted to a range of cocktails,” said retail manager, Mark Dent.

The Cuban Embassy, also reports an uplift in sales of premium and spiced rums.

‪“Last year a lot of people would request well-known Kraken for a spiced rum; now people are more often asking for recommendations, and we are selling a fair bit of Brugal Dry Spiced, and Red Leg,” said managing director Nick Rendall. 

There has been a marked increase in sales of spiced and flavoured rums since 2014, with flavoured and spiced rums having increased its market share by 9% to 34% of the rum category since then.

According to the WSTA’s most recent market report, in Q1 2017 – as with Q4 2016 - flavoured and spiced rum posted the best growth numbers in all areas of the rum category, with sales reaching 20,000hls and £40m quarterly sales for the first time.

Putting the rise of spice into context, Peter Holland, sugarcane spirits professional at The Floating Rum Shack explained:

“There have always been two types of rum fan, those who don’t take it too seriously and just have some fun with the spirit category and ’the serious rummy’ -  the person who knows just how good the category can be in terms of tasting experience. Both fields are increasing at the moment, but I’d say that the rise in popularity of spiced rum is mostly why the former is camp is growing faster.”

Rum has been touted as “the next big thing” for a while now, but while sales are on the rise, rum still has a way to go to rival vodka in terms of value sales (£1,13 in 2016) and gin in terms of growth.

Volume gin sales grew at over twice the rate of rum last year with 12% and 5% growth respectively.

For gin, value sales rose by 14% to £455m compared to rum’s £333m (+3%).

But Holland thinks 2017 could be the year that rum asserts its authority.

‪“Ever since I got serious in the rum world, the word is that rum will be the next big thing. This is the first year that I can honestly see a spike in interest,” he said.

‪“It’s all about the spiced rum category at the moment. There are so many new brands looking to make a name for themselves in the category. Year-on-year, sales volumes are up and up.

‪“I look around me and I see new brands and companies coming to market. I see existing producers extending their production facilities and releasing new expressions of rum. I see a huge rise in rum events around the UK and across the world. I see an increasing number of forums in the social media. Sales figures are up – so let’s hope it has a future.”

Now in its second year, the Birmingham Rum Festival is returning in July to captilise on the city’s growing rum scene.

Visitors at the consumer-facing event will be able to sample some of the spiced rums including Cargo Cult and Bumbu as well as a “new wave” of British craft rums like those of the Shropshire Spirit Co, made in a traditional copper still and infused with English strawberries.

The event, which aims to celebrate the British rum culture, will also feature heritage brand Pusser’s Rum, which traces its roots back to the original Navy Rum supplied to British sailors from 1650 until 1970.

For more information, visit the festival’s website at https://birminghamrumfestival.com




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