Rum is doing its utmost to knock gin off its perch. Headlines of ‘rum sales to hit £1bn’ and ongoing speculation that the juniper tipple’s bubble is about to burst are both working to set rum up as the next ‘category most likely to succeed’. Stats and speculation aside, Dave Marsland, owner of the Manchester Rum Festival, and a man with 11 years of bar experience, believes that a shift is happening in the rum world.
‘When I started in the industry you would have the basic bar calls of Bacardi and cola, rum and black etc,’ he tells Imbibe. ‘Now though, the understanding of rum has changed and the variety that is available in the UK market is huge on all levels of price and concepts.’
It’s being backed up by enhanced staff training in the category, too – good news for readers of this magazine – and particularly important if rum is, indeed, to migrate drinkers in from other areas. Like gin.
While Marsland admits that most rum-focused venues head down the Polynesian/Tiki route, he also points out that ‘simple serves seem to be coming back, thanks to the Daiquiri. Ti' Punch, El Presidente, Fog Cutter's and Mary Pickford's are all becoming more prominent on menus.
‘We’re also getting away from the more generic terminology of gold, white, dark etc, as venues look to the whisky categories and adopt a similar model. Country of origin is also a thing; you’re starting to see a move away from all rum being quote unquote Caribbean.’
The category might be in rude health, but does he see a big trend going forward? ‘Spiced rum is growing daily,’ he says, ‘and will carry on for years to come’.