From Bundy to the World

July 16, 2021
By Ken Gargett

One brand dominates the Australian Dark Rum. Part of the Diageo portfolio for around two decades, its market share exceeds 60 per cent. It is hard to think of any other drinks category which has one producer establishing such dominance.

They are most certainly not resting on their laurels with cross-over products like the partnership with Ice Break (Iced Coffee) and future spiced rums to follow.

They have worked with Fox League to promote links to the game. How interesting it would be to know just how much Bundy is consumed on any State of Origin Evening, especially one when Queensland is victorious. Indeed, it is fair to say that Queenslanders do more than any other Australians to ensure that these figures are sop impressive. So, what’s new?

Firstly, there is room for improvement. The market in Australia for rum is anticipated to be worth close to $150m this year with the category growing at just over 5 per cent – healthy, but down from recent years where consumption was regularly increasing at 7 to 9 per cent. Our average per capita consumption is a meagre 0.1 litres per head.

Dark rum is on the up. Bartenders and consumers vote with their bars and wallets, most believing it to be the spirit which is “‘premiumising most”.

James France from Vanguard, which represents Nicaraguan rum Flor de Cana, has noted that in recent years, “Total rum is up 5.8 per cent with far and away the largest growth coming from super-premium rums.”

And why on earth would that not be the case when you see such amazing rums as their 30-Year-Old? Mr France has also been quoted as saying that “aged rums are excellent value for money compared to other aged spirits, especially Scotch and bourbon”, and he is convinced that “aged rum’s time will come. Probably sooner than later.”

From cult Barbados distillery Foursquare, Richard Seale is leading the push for consumer recognition of premium rums because the GI Classification program, vintage rums and more, all contribute to why these rums are known as the ‘Pappy’ of the industry.

From Campari/Appleton, Andrew Shannon has identified the “huge growth momentum” of spiced rums and the domination of bourbon but sees “the growth in dark spirits towards the super-premium and premium segments”.

From a domestic perspective, it is exciting to see the craft distillers emerging. Archie Rose might be known for gin, but they are doing terrific things with dark rum (and whisky). Husk Distillers on the north coast of NSW is definitely one to watch.

Perhaps a little more sizeable than craft, award winners Inner Circle and Beenleigh are another two producers always keen to improve their rums. The problem for quality craft distillers, when aiming for an elite rum or whisky, is time. Gin is distillery to dollars in a month or so. Rum can take years.

It is offshore where much of the top-flight dark rums hail, especially the Caribbean and neighbouring countries. Zacapa is a fine example, with their wonderful 23-Year- Old and XO. These rums have become almost mainstream, a serious achievement in this Bundy dominated region. Pusser’s, El Dorado, Doorly’s, Diplomatico, and so many more are all part of the reason that dark rum is on the rise, with a bullet!

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