Rum’s Large Personality

I bumped into Captain Morgan recently and nearly did a jig with the Kraken Hunter, if he hadn’t been so hot in his costume I’m sure he would have obliged.
The occasion – our very own DRAM Awards. But the reason that I am bringing it up is perhaps the very presence of these two brand ambassadors tells us something about why rum is still a favourite in Scotland’s pubs bars and clubs.
Rum brands that put in the effort here reap the rewards. Now I have met Captain Morgan before – a few years ago now mind you… he hasn’t aged a bit! But now brand owner Diageo is not pussy footing about Captain Morgan’s Spiced is the name of the brand, and our old favourite Morgan’s Spiced has to give way to global influences. But not too worry the taste itself remains the same; it’s just the branding that is undergoing a transformation. That’s why they have pulled the Captain back to promote the brand – they say he is coke’s best wingman. He certainly wowed the ladies and the men at the DRAM Awards.
The golden rum market is among the fastest growing sector, in the spirits business with value gushing ahead by almost 30% year on year, which shows that people are prepared to pay more for rum, despite these recessionary times. The rum category alone has seen a double digit sales rise over the past 12 months reflecting an ever increasing love affair with the tantalising tastes of both golden and spiced rums.
A competitor to Captain Morgan is 19 Spiced, which according to the company behind it Malcolm Cowen, who are distributing the brand for Trinidad company Fernandes Distillers, performs well in blind taste tests against another leading brand of spiced rum – now this could be Captain Morgan’s, Sailor Jerry or Lamb’s Spiced… you would have to try it for yourself to see. I’d love to know what you think?
The brand is a sister brand to VAT 19 another golden rum (not to be confused with VAT 69 – a whisky). 19 Spiced is to be supported by Party Nights, a new web site and by trade shows.
And they are looking for licensees up for hosting a 19 Spiced Party Night. They are also running a cocktail competition – 19 mixologists making 19 cocktails in 19 seconds – I’d love to see that – it might be world record – I’d be surprised if they could open the bottle in that time!
Anyway, talking of parties another rum hit at the DRAM awards was The Kraken Hunter… he came, and nearly died of heat exhaustion in a costume that was both fun and noticeable. The Kraken is a mythical sea monster, and the old fashioned deep sea costume, carries on the theme. I would imagine that he would have also been present at T in the Park, where Kraken Rum sponsored the cocktail bar. I’m sure some revellers may have thought that they were imaging things… probably not an unusual occurrence!
The Kraken Rum however is ‘cracking’. It’s a strong, rich, black, smooth 40% ABV rum packaged in a distinctive 70cl Victorian ‘flagon-style’ clear glass bottle. Ricky Agnew of Marblehead fame and his team, who are distributing the brand in the UK, are passionate about it. Ricky even managed to get me drinking it straight, and it was lovely. It has a very strong vanilla flavour which makes it very versatile in cocktails as our cocktail bar entrants proved. The winning cocktail from the boys at Bath Street Pony was made with fennel – I couldn’t imagine what it would taste like, but it was unanimous – we all really enjoyed it. This cocktail session also proved how important it is to get the right brand in the right cocktail – when we visited the Blythswood to taste Mal Spence’s masterpiece, the poor bartender was nearly struck dumb… because there was no Kraken and then the rum he did make the cocktail with, just didn’t work. A return visit remedied this, but still the Fennel cocktail and that of Bond No 9, which included seaweed, were imaginative and incredibly tasty, and just edged ahead.
In fact since the awards a number of bar owners have contacted me asking where they can get the The Kraken. So it obviously went down well.
Commenting on the potential for the brand here, Dave Steward of Marblehead says “The Kraken was launched in the States by New Jersey-based Proximo Spirits last year and has really taken off – it’s been a huge phenomenon in both the USA and Canada and we’re confident that it will replicate that success here.
“With the growing consumer interest in rum, there is a real opportunity for us to introduce a product which is distinctively different from everything else in the market and which has both intrinsic product quality and a fresh, energetic and fun personality.
­“The Kraken has a story to tell, it tastes good and the packaging will have strong appeal to those who want to experiment. It is the first dark rum to break the mould, and we believe it will play a major role in redefining the rum market in the UK.”
I read an article by an American journalist (just from the tail end of last year) who claimed that there was little rum innovation in the market. I nearly choked. Maybe that’s the case in the US, but when it comes to the UK, hardly a day goes by when a press release doesn’t come through heralding a new launch, or expression.
For instance Maxxium UK announced the launch of Brugal Blanco Especial in the UK last month. They say it is one of the cleanest and purest rums every produced because it is made from golden rum that has been double distilled. It’s the first ever white rum the Brugal Maestros Roneros have ever created.
No doubt this white rum will be competing with Bacardi, which is the most popular rum in Scotland, by a long chalk. Even if Brugal can take a small percentage of the Bacardi market it will be doing well. After all around half a million people in Scotland drink Bacardi! They may not realise they are drinking rum thou’! Brugal, no doubt is aiming at a slightly more discerning drinker. I would imagine that they are hoping that bar owners who have customers that are going the premium route will opt to have Brugal Blanco as their pouring white rum.
Angostura rum has also had a facelift. It’s super premium Angostura 1919 and Angostura 1824 both have a new look bottle as well as new labelling and packaging. The new packaging offers a bespoke, iconic decanter and exquisite, specially commissioned original artwork which features on the neck label and gift carton. Inspired by Trinidad and Tobago, the artwork incorporates national elements including: the scarlet ibis, the national bird of Trinidad & Tobago, taking pride of place on the nations coat of arms; the ship, symbolic of discovery; the sugar cane in arrow, signalling the ripening of the sugar cane; the dancer, the joyous spirit of Trinidad and Tobago; and the butterflies, numerous in variety and as colourful as the rainbow people of La Trinity. It sounds like a perfume bottle to me!
Also landing in Scotland this month is Pink Pigeon. I love the packaging. Black and pink, very classy – and each bottle is hand finished with a ribbon, ring and wax. It definitely tickles my fancy. It’s the first super premium, spiced rum from the Island of Mauritius (I’ll probably have to pop along to The Ivy to sample it) but if it tastes as good as it looks, I’m sure it too will go down a storm with rum lovers. Its description is also quite exotic “It is blended with hand-pollinated and hand-picked natural vanilla from Madagascar and Reunion Islands.” Unusually this rum is also available in a Magnum, I just hear the posh guys at Tiger Lily ordering it… “A Magnum of Pink Pigeon”… the next trend?

Category: Bar & Pub, Features, News, Spirits