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A Handful Of Rising Brands Gain Traction At Rum’s High End

July 10, 2019

While categories like Tequila and whisk(e)y have been premiumizing rapidly over the past few years, rum marketers have had a more difficult time trading consumers up. Still, there are encouraging pockets of growth, with sipping rums and upscale, mixology-geared entries showing the way forward.

Among rum’s promising higher-end players, the Plantation label continues to be a standout. Part of the Maison Ferrand portfolio, which also includes Citadelle Gin and Pierre Ferrand Cognac, among others, Plantation sold nearly 75,000 cases last year within its exclusively premium-and-above portfolio. The brand has more than doubled in size since 2016.

Plantation’s entry-level options retail for around $25 a 750-ml., with XO level products in the $50-$60 range. The brand also includes limited releases and special editions that reach between $100 and $120 a 750-ml. bottle. Among those are the Plantation Vintage line of rums that distinguish themselves on origin, with offerings from Jamaica, Barbados, Peru, and Fiji, among others. The Fiji rum, aged since 2009, is the youngest in the line, with the rest aged since 2004 or 2005, all matured first in their country of origin and again in Ferrand casks in France.

Flor de Caña, handled by William Grant & Sons, has also capitalized on the nascent movement toward the higher end, increasing 5% to 144,000 cases in the U.S. last year. “Flor de Caña has had another year of growth, as the premium rum category has been on the cusp of a breakout,” says William Osburn, senior brand manager for Flor de Caña. “More and more imbibers are beginning to explore the rum category.” Osburn also tells SND that the brand plans to launch a new ultra-premium expression later this year to accompany its existing 12-, 18-, and 25-year rums.

Other super-premium brands—including Diageo-distributed Ron Zacapa (44,000 cases), Shaw-Ross’s Pusser’s (37,000 cases) and Ron Barceló (68,000 cases), Opici’s Brinley Gold (28,000 cases), 3 Badge’s Kirk & Sweeney (23,000 cases), and Blue Chair Bay (161,000 cases)—also posted increases last year. E.&J. Gallo is likewise among those bullish on higher-end rums. Last year, the wine giant added Diplomático rum to its range, including the brand’s Tradition tier ($27-$43), the Distillery Collection ($80), and the Prestige range ($130-$270), totaling around 27,000 cases.

Meanwhile, Stoli Group recently boosted its Louisiana-based Bayou rum brand with an $8 million investment in its visitor experience, and launched Bayou XO Mardi Gras, an $80 luxury expression aged up to six years in Bayou’s solera system, whose barrels are composed of ex-Bourbon and ex-Sherry casks.—Danny Sullivan

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