Friday, May 03, 2013

A discussion of Rum Roots

A local paper ran this AP release. I comment after and am looking for your comments and feelings. By "you" I mean the loyal group of Rum lovers (#rumlovers) and Distillers that read this blog every day as well as those who just stumble upon it....

 

Rum plays up — and ignores — its Caribbean roots

By JENNIFER KAY The Associated Press April 25, 2013 9:56AM
When you’re talking about rum, how much does the Caribbean really matter?
For the rum world, it’s a more serious question than it sounds, and the answer exposes a schism in the industry, a divide between massive producers who value uniformity in a global market and smaller players and connoisseurs who prefer nuanced production that reflects the time and place a rum is made.
A walk down the rum aisle of a liquor store sees this played out. While major companies like Pernod Ricard might acknowledge that its Malibu is a “Carribean rum” and has notes of coconut flavor, you won’t find specifics beyond that. Likewise, Diageo’s Captain Morgan doesn’t indicate which island port its jaunty pirate logo calls home.
That’s because the largest liquor companies have realized it’s not critical to promote their rums’ origins in their global branding, says Arun Sharma, professor of marketing at the University of Miami School of Business Administration. That allows them flexibility to produce their spirits where they need to meet demand on the mass market.
“The brand is more important than where it’s produced,” Sharma said.
At Bacardi, which sells more than 18 million cases of rum worldwide each year, consistency and quality are paramount, even as it expands its offerings of flavored, spiced and premium rums.
“Our marketing approach and advertising hasn’t really focused on the Caribbean. ... It’s a lifestyle. It’s a way of life,” said Bacardi brand master David Cid.
Except that rums can vary greatly based on where and how they are produced, something aficionados have long known and smaller producers have begun promoting as a way to distinguish themselves. Cuba and Puerto Rico have lighter, more delicate rums; Jamaica veers to the full-bodied, darker liquors; and Haiti is known for the cognac-like flavor of its Rhum Barbancourt.
Blue Chair Bay Rum, which country music star Kenny Chesney is launching this spring, is a good example. Chesney chose a distiller in Barbados specifically to infuse the spirit with an authenticity he sought to represent his love for the island lifestyle, says CEO Mark Montgomery.
And as rum sales grow, you can expect to see more of that. Fueled by a cocktail revival on the food scene — as well as prominent billing on TV shows like “Mad Men” — liquors captured more than a third of the alcoholic beverage market last year, including sales of 25.5 million cases of rum in the U.S. alone, a 2.5 percent jump over the year before. Flavored and spiced rums account for more than half of that total. 

My turn for comments.....

This article leads to a bit of discussion or at least comment from me. While many of the “Big” rums mentioned are looking for expansion and marketing, the marketing part also falls through to the Specialty and Craft sections of the industry. Smaller distilleries are looking to break into their niche markets and grow at least to the point where their spirits distillation is not just a personal passion and hobby. They'd like to work at what they love and go at it full time. Still are they “ignoring” the Caribbean connection? Ignoring? Let's face it, the Caribbean has always been part of the Rum world, but do rums from Europe, the Orient even Australia ignore Caribbean roots? Don't think so. Also, the United States has been making Rum here in the States before there were states! I think a lot (I will not speak for all, but the few I have spoken with, I think, will back me up here) are building on, and moving forward with what was done here in the US before the Caribbean became (no denying) the driving force, at least in this hemisphere. They honor it's enrichment and growth – but wish to bring back the birthplace of many fine rums. Remember, rum distillation disappeared in 1920 after being here more than 250 years! The romance and mystery of Caribbean Rums took hold during Prohibition, and pretty much maintained their hold since. Now, rums with US roots and some with 100% US ingredients are beginning to take hold. Is it a fad? Will it just go away? For that we need to talk more – that will be next time here –
For now – I am, of course; just

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