Rum – squaring up to the gin market

Rum is regularly mooted as being the next challenger for gin’s crown -  with less road to travel than tequila to get there. With flavoured rum, spiced rum and golden rum assuming increased significance in this category we take a look at the fortunes of the rum market here.


 As with gin, rum looks set to edge more into the premium and flavoured types. These enable mixologists to widen their scope for making rum cocktails beyond the traditional favourites as consumer confidence rises to explore new flavour profiles and categories in the rum sector.

More than two-thirds of on-trade rums are ordered with a mixer, so bars can upsell in this category by broadening their rum range on drinks menus (as well as their mixers range) and educating consumers further on pairing and flavour profiles.

The end result should be a trading-up of rum cocktail calls – which is perhaps why, in the UK, rum is involved in four of the top 10 cocktail calls.


Rum premiumisation

Premiumisation of the spirits category has been one of the overriding on-trade trends, making it a market driver in developed economies. Thanks to the rise in middle class consumers in other countries, demand for premium has been accompanied by a demand for exclusivity by way of luxury product from growing numbers of  consumers.

According to Drinks Ireland|Spirits rum had a 7% share of the spirits market here in 2018.


Off-trade rum sales

Nielsen’s Scantrack of the multiples, symbol groups, discounters, forecourts and specialist off-licences suggests that the total off-trade market for rum stands at €33.5 million in the year to the 14th of June last, up 21% on the previous year to date.

However 48% of these sales took place in multiples, with 27% taking place in symbol groups and forecourts, 15% in discounters and just 10% in specialist off-licences although the latter category are witnessing the strongest growth, seeing value sales soar by 37.5% in the last year (and by 121% in the 12 weeks ending the 14th of June compared to the same 12 week period in 2019). In terms of volume, 123,000 cases of rum were sold over the 52 weeks, up 17% on the previous year.


Overall rum sales

Rum has become increasingly popular in the UK too where almost three million cases of it were sold there last year worth a little more than £1 billion, according to the Wine and Spirit Trade Association.

The WSTA states that although the rum market grew by just 1% in the past 12 months, there are signs that the category is evolving.

One third of the UK’s rum sales take place in the on-trade and when looking at the flavoured, spiced and golden categories, things look more positive.

The Times recently pointed out that rum “now ranks alongside gin and whisky among the nation’s favourite spirits” where a significant growth in sales of ‘golden’ and ‘dark’ rum has characterised the on-trade sector.

Premium rum represents 15% of the total UK rum market now and the segment continues to grow with dark rum the category that’s ‘premiumising’ the most.


Rum – £250 a shot

Two Sheffield bar owners went to extraordinary lengths to ensure that their customers were some of the first in the world to sample one of the rarest and most expensive rums ever produced.

Adrian Bagnoli and Brad Charlesworth, owners of the city’s renowned Cubana, did a 9,000 mile round trip to Havana to become the first bar outside Cuba to purchase two bottles of a blend so old and rare that its original designers have now passed.

The Havana Club 1519, whose ageing process started in the early 1940s, was launched in honour of the 500-year-old history of Havana and has gone on sale at the Sheffield bar.

Only 500 bottles exist with only 250 of these available for sale. Collectors from around the globe queue up to buy them at nearly £3,000 a bottle.

But at £250 a shot it definitely won’t suit everyone’s palate or pocket.

Cubana’s extensive rum menu was voted the UK’s very best by the industry in 2016 and its menu offers 260 different rum varieties. The bar’s collection has been sourced from right around the globe and there are around 70 new additions to it.

The fourth edition of its latest rum collection also includes a five-times distilled rum from Puerto Rico, six new Haitian rums and a doubling of the Jamaican varieties.

From left: Brad & Adrian toast the arrival of the exclusive rum (open box in background) that’s now on sale at their Sheffield bar at £250 a shot.

From left: Brad & Adrian toast the arrival of the exclusive rum (open box in background) that’s now on sale at their Sheffield bar at £250 a shot.










Black Tears

Black Tears is the world’s first & only spiced rum from Cuba. Completely unique within the rum category it sets itself apart, boasting a low sugar content (only 9g per litre) & a bittersweet flavour. The Masterblender has curated that unique flavour with a blend of spices, all sourced locally in Cuba – coffee, cacao & ‘aji dulce’ (a variety of small sweet peppers).

Black Tears separates itself from the rest of the worlds ‘sweet’ rums and embraces the full range of Cuban flavour and  complexity that comes with it. Its name comes from a famous Cuban song “Lágrimas Negras” which tells the a story of love and loss. According to local myth the jilted lover wept black tears which fell into her rum, magically creating a unique bittersweet taste.

The brand has earned the Vigia seal of high-quality rum, acknowledging the excellence and passion in the production process. Golden brown in appearance, it mixes beautifully in long drinks and cocktails, adding more depth & drama to traditional rum drinks. Its signature serve, ‘Tears & Tonic’, served in a highball over ice, is garnished with an Orange slice.


Diplomático Rum

Diplomático Rum, the super-premium rum from Venezuela, is one of the most-awarded rums on the planet. In 2018 it was awarded Wine Enthusiast’s Spirit Brand of the Year, the first-ever rum to win in this category and it consistently ranks in the Top Five trending rum brands globally.

Renowned for its superior taste, quality & mixability, Diplomático has been producing high-quality spirits since 1959. Distilled from the finest sugar cane honey, Masterblender Tito Cordero (previously named the world’s best Master Blender in 2014) combines traditional and modern methods.

The Diplomático Reserva Exclusiva rum blends 80% pot still and 20% light rums aged for up to 12 years in ex-Bourbon white oak casks. The result is a bouquet full of rich notes that range from toffee and caramel to ginger and cinnamon, providing a seductive and long-lasting finish. An exceptional sipping rum that boasts more than 20 awards to its name, Diplomático isn’t just renowned for its exceptional quality, it’s well-known for its sustainability programmes too. The family-owned business has been committed to its ‘zero waste rum’ programme for over 10 years and provides sustainable jobs to over 700 workers in the area.


Pusser’s Rum

Intrepid Spirits has added the multi-award-winning Pusser’s Rum to its portfolio here. Pusser’s won the World’s Best Pot and Colum Still Rum 2019 with its Gunpowder edition.

During the recent Lockdown Intrepid Spirits and Pusser’s launched a bartender cocktail competition with a difference, in partnership with tiki-guru Georgi Radev of Laki Kane Tiki Rum Bar in London.

‘Cocktails from the Fridge’ attracted over 30 Irish Bartenders who were tasked with creating a drink using only five ingredients from their homes.

Darren Geraghty of Candlelight Bar in Dundrum was crowned the overall winner. His creation ‘The Skuttle Butt’ was made up of 50ml Pusser’s Gunpowder Rum, 30ml Orange marmalade, 30ml Coconut yogurt, 30ml egg white and 50ml Pineapple cordial.

“This campaign was a great example of the resilience of the hospitality industry in Ireland and something we were extremely proud to be a part of,” said Ian Doody of Intrepid Spirits.




In 1862 Don Facundo Bacardí Massó set out to create a rum like no other, spending the next decade perfecting blends that he was proud to serve to the people of Cuba. He never settled, always looking for ways to improve his product.

His spirit lives on today in the Maestros de Ron Bacardí. They ensure that every batch of Bacardí rum lives up to Don Facundo’s unwavering pursuit of perfection; to create rum that, after more than a century-and-a-half, is still worthy of bearing the Bacardí name.

Bacardí, the world’s most-awarded rum, has recently unveiled a new Coconut-flavour. Bacardí Coconut is a white rum infused with Coconut flavours which has an intense yet clean flavour of fresh Coconut with a rich tropical aroma.

This is the latest addition to the Bacardí flavoured range now comprising Bacardí Spiced, Bacardí Ginger and Bacardí Raspberry as well as Bacardí Coconut. These have been crafted by the Maestros de Ron who shape and craft all the products in the portfolio using their sense of sight, taste and smell to ensure the quality of the spirit meets Bacardí standards.

See more at or @Bacardiireland on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.



Award-winning Spike Island Spiced Rum

Spike Island Spiced Rum from Waterford-based Anchor Spirits was the first spiced rum produced in Ireland in recent times. It has won several awards for taste and quality including a Gold Medal from the Global Rum & Cachaca Masters held in London.

Spike Island has a dark bold complex taste. Cinnamon, Clove, Star Anise and Orange peel pop on the nose as hints of Vanilla warm the palate. Smooth, yet strong, this rum is a seamless blend of spice and rum.

It takes its name from the famous prison island in Cork Harbour. Before the island was purchased by the British Government in 1779, the dark ruggedness of the Spike Island shoreline was a favourite hiding place for smugglers.

Like the original smuggled rum of the 18th Century, the base rum for Spike Island is made in one of the world’s finest distilleries on the island of Barbados. It’s imported to Ireland where a special spice blend, developed by Anchor Spirits, is added and carefully blended over a number of months to achieve the perfect marriage of rum and spice.

Spike Island holds two other international awards, most notably an international Outstanding Silver Medal from the 2017 IWSC awards.

Anchor Spirits Ireland also owns the multi-award-winning brands Thin Gin and Muldoon Irish Whiskey Liqueur.

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