Innovation and Renovation in the Rum Industry
Our rum consulting practice allows us to meet extraordinary people, all of whom share -of course- an interest in rum. This interest is sometimes purely monetary, embodied by those seeking the cheapest rum so they can put it in a catchy bottle a make a quick buck. Other times the interest is primarily transformational, even artistic, embodied by financially secure individuals attempting to produce a rum, solely for the craft involved, even if the business only manages to break even or if it represents a slight loss. Occasionally the interest is innovative, meaning it involves people attempting to introduce new technologies or gadgets into the production or marketing of the end product. Even less frequently, we run into someone whose interest is primarily renovative, focused exclusively on preserving historical methods, products and traditions.
Rum is an evolving spirit and, in order to grow and attract new consumers, it sometimes needs to come across as contemporary and chic. But rum is also the flagship beverage of an era respected for its attention to detail and its focus on opulent flavors and aromas.
Premiumization means different things to different people, but one of the aspects I tend to look for when trying to identify it, is the return to classic, basic forms and styles (aka “renovation”). This is why classic cars will always make heads turn, even when there are faster, more efficient or cheaper alternatives around.
But renovation in our industry does not come easy: one must first learn to identify and appreciate everything that once went into the making of a classic, iconic rum. This learning process can be rewarding in itself but, for those truly passionate about the craft, there is nothing more satisfying than witnessing a small piece of that excitement reflected on other people as they are presented with the fruit of our arduous labor.
But renovation and premiumization do not start or end with the fermentation, distillation, aging and bottling of a rum: they extend to include the manner in which sales people, distributors, retailers and mixologists respect the rum.
If we take care of each link in this chain, consumers will experience rum the way we all want them to.
Luis Ayala, Editor and Publisher