StateWays - May/June 2016

StateWays is the only magazine exclusively covering the control state system within the beverage alcohol industry, with annual updates from liquor control commissions and alcohol control boards and yearly fiscal reporting from control jurisdictions

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StateWays n n May/June 2016 40 "The stars are aligning for rum; I think it's going to be the next hot spirits category," says Draga Culic, brand direc- tor at Niche Imports, whose portfolio includes Mezan Rum. She cites growing interest in the spirit among both consumers and mixologists, and sees a bright future for rum both off- and on-premise. Indeed, rum seems perennially on the cusp of breaking big. It sure has a lot going for it. Rum has a spectrum of styles wide enough to satisfy every drinking occasion it's a requirement in many cocktail recipes and consumers' palates would seem to be aligned with the spirit. Rum is a bargain, too; there are plenty of well-made, value- priced products, and top-shelf superpre- miums boast age statements to rival any whiskey or brandy (at better price points). And all of the new boutique producers and unusual bottlings on shelves and backbars should amply pique consumer interest. Then there's Cuba and the improving relations with the U.S. Increased tourism there and the growing vogue in the States for all things Cuban may spark interest in rum overall. TURNAROUND ON THE HORIZON? Just a few years ago, rum's star was ris- ing. Revenues were up a healthy 3.3% in 2013, according to the Distilled Spirits Council (DISCUS), with significant rises in the superpremium (5.1%) and high-end premium (13.3%) that boded well for rum. Since then sales have slumped; revenues were down 2.0% in 2015, according to DISCUS, with bright spots in the value (1.2%) and superpremium (2.8%). How can the rum category regain its momen- tum in the U.S. market? "Rum can regain its momentum by cap- italizing on what makes it different from other spirits," says Mauricio Bermudez, di- rector of marketing for Bacardi Rums. First, rum is versatile and easy to drink, yet it has more character and taste than most spirits," Seeing the Light Consumers are coming around to the unique characteristics of light rum. BY THOMAS HENRY STRENK

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