Rum has come a long way over the last 500 years. For centuries, rum has had a bad rep and has long been branded the juvenile delinquent of spirits. Now, growing in popularity, it is fast showing its appeal to sippers world-wide and has found a new home in South Africa.
Craft beer and artisan gin are having to make way for the latest spirit to set a global trend as the next big spirit. The sweet nectar born from the Caribbean is being rehabilitated, respected, and seeing a revolution, or as connoisseurs like to call it: a rum renaissance.
Rum is one of the last spirit categories to premiumise and is seeing a surge in an upward momentum of growth in popularity. Every year, rum makers keep raising the bar for creativity and sophistication which is on par with cognacs or fine whiskeys. Rum is versatile and can be sipped from tumblers or snifters, sometimes with a taste enhancer like orange peel or lime and is delicious in cocktails.
Grant Hendricks of Pernod Ricard, owners of Havana Club, said: “The rum renaissance is not just about the volume and value potential, but it reflects the elevation of Cuban character.
“Rum has tons of personality, with the growth of the sub-category spurred by consumers who haven’t previously considered rum as a high-quality craft spirit.”
He adds, “Premiumisation has been a driving force of growth for many years in the drinks world as a whole but for us, as rum producers, it is exciting to be seen as the next big thing to follow gin.”
Already he says, there are a number of specialised bars opening up around the country and in Cape Town specifically, there is a lot of talk around the latest pop-up rum bar, Rum TumTum, which has been launched in partnership with the guys behind Thirst Bar Services and nestled on Bree Street in the CBD.
“Once one of the most popular spirits, rum is making an impressive comeback and we are excited to embrace concepts like Rum TumTum with its authentic Cuban bar aesthetic including everything from artwork to décor right through to the sweet nectar served neat or in their innovative cocktails.
“One thing rum has that plays in its favour is that it possesses a hipper cachet than cognac or whiskey and has a much broader appeal from discerning drinkers to millennials. Although rum distillers have been speaking about the ‘Rum Revolution’ for decades, consumers are starting to embrace the trend.”
Hendricks explained that compared to aged whiskey, premium rum was more accessible and inclusive without gender specific boundaries and often demonstrated a spirit of togetherness
“Aged Cuban rum is complex enough to sip neat or enjoyed on ice but is also versatile enough to be enjoyed in cocktails. Rum is trending up,” he added.
While there aren’t many spirits that have been around longer than rum, drinks come and go according to popular fashion and rum is back in the spotlight – Salud! To the noble spirit.