Luis Ayala, Editor
Luis Ayala, Editor of "Got Rum?" magazine, Rum Consultant and Founder of The Rum University.
2013 Year End Review
Another rum-filled year is coming close to its end and, as always, I find myself struggling to summarize it for “Got Rum?” readers in only one page. We were blessed with the highest number of consulting requests of any year, primarily for setting up new micro rum distilleries. This is a very healthy sign of the industry, both in terms of interest in rum, financial investment conditions and governmental/local support for the craft. Often we’ve set up distilleries in cities that had not granted distillery permits since before US Prohibition; in other cases we’ve helped our clients be the first ever licensed distillery in their city!
Additional positive highlights from the year include:
• Continuity and expansion of existing rum festivals. This proves that rum’s increase in popularity and growth throughout the world is a sustainable trend, not just a passing fad.
• Rum micro distillers are starting to age more rum! This also shows us that craft rum consumers are demanding more value in the products they purchase and that aging rum is becoming feasible for well-prepared distillers (those properly positioned financially and with clear marketing differentiation).
• Tiki Mixology is helping drive sales of traditionally slow-moving rums.
• Rum-centric bars are on the rise worldwide, whether as speakeasies, Caribbean, Latin or South Pacific-inspired watering holes, these establishments are testament to the growing interest in the category.
Unfortunately every coin has two faces, and there are also negative trends we are closely monitoring:
• Un-skilled small distillers are, under the guise of “full flavored rum”, releasing products that have been improperly cut, retaining an un-healthy, often illegal concentration of methanol. These distillers always have given the trade a bad name and despite the fact that their actions are not derived from malice, their impact is almost irreparable. My message to them is clear: if you don’t want to acquire the skills (or even pay independent labs to run tests for you) to keep methanol within acceptable ranges, GET OUT OF THE DISTILLING BUSINESS!
• Improper use of oak chips as a substitute for aging. In “The History and Science of the Barrel” we discuss at length the proper and improper way to use chips and other barrel inserts. True “aging,” however, continues to refer EXCLUSIVELY to time spent inside an oak barrel!
My praise and criticism towards the industry always come along with an open invitation to dialog. If you disagree with my views, or if you want help exploring ways in which you can improve your operation, do not hesitate to reach out to me.
Luis Ayala, Editor and Publisher