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Think Rum to help retailers unlock huge potential
Published:  15 December, 2017

DRN is gearing up to host its second annual Think Rum event in London and co-chairman Peter Holland believes there is huge untapped potential in the off-trade.

The event is designed to help both retailers and on-trade operators improve their range, boost margins, broaden their knowledge and share best practice.

Holland, who runs The Floating Rum Shack, will bring his in-depth understanding of the rum category to the event and host masterclasses and debates, while exhibitors pour rums from around the world.

He told DRN: “A lot of spirits retailers tend to have a small, safe selection of rums, invariably big brands – well known, but a little unimaginative.

“The strength of the category is the versatility, and the weakness is that, without proper communication and education, a bar or retailer could be missing out on all sorts of opportunities. The rum’s flavour profile, brand history and connections could all be utilised in a far more effective manner.

“You’d expect your whisky selection to be reasonably diverse, offering lighter, fruity blends through to big and perhaps even challenging 
single malts.

“Your rum selection should be much like that, and using the thinking behind the new Gargano/Seale classification [which breaks down rums into four categories]  is a perfect starting point to ensure you’ve got something for everyone.

“Consider rums beyond their loose, weak grouping by colour, as colour is not a flavour and in the main has nothing to do with production style. Assuming all rum drinkers want something relatively light, probably sweetened, isn’t going to help either.”

Think Rum will take place in central London on January 30 and Holland said that if it “only half delivers” on its promise to educate and stimulate conversation “it will still be one of the best rum-focused events out there”.

He added: “Supermarkets and corner shops tend to be too safe to be interesting and fail to reflect the diversity within the sugarcane spirits world. A point in case: there will be a single, industrial-style cachaça on offer, like that single expression can represent the whole of Brazil. No, they must do better.

“There could perhaps be an industrial-style cachaça, with a low price point as its USP, but there should also be an artisanal pot still cachaça in both its unaged and nicely matured version.

“Perhaps one rested in oak and one rested in a tropical wood such as amburana. Moving from one to four expressions starts to highlight the diversity in just cachaça. Then take time to ensure all concerned know that the Caipirinha (as good as it can be) is far from the be-all and end-all of mixed cachaça drinks.

“Imagine the same scenario played out with rhum agricole and rums from Barbados, Jamaica and St Lucia. Rum is not just rum when you get beyond the brands that operate solely on lowest price.

“You want consumers to feel they can upwardly explore the category, but this means you need to understand the details. What is light and approachable? What is a little more fulsome on the palate?

“Do you have a handle on the rum category in the same manner that many have on the whisky category? Can you offer the rum equivalent of a relatively light grain whisky, or the pungent, mouth-filling equivalent of an Islay?”