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Think Rum Awards winners 2017 announced for Harpers' inaugural event

Published:  17 January, 2017

Rum's top advocates were recognised for their contributions to this increasingly popular and sometimes misunderstood spirit when Harpers celebrated its inaugural Think Rum event yesterday (January 16).

It might have been Blue Monday, but Hawaiian shirts and every type of rum under the - non-existent - sun helped to brighten up London's The Folly bar for Harpers' first ever Think Rum event.

Building the perfect rum range and maximising profits was the headline of one of our forums intended to help the trade make the most of the opportunities presented by this versatile spirit, which as speaker Peter Holland said, can often be difficult to communicate to the customer thanks to in part to its reductive 'white, gold, or dark' classification system.

There are many companies which deserve to be recognised for their work in championing the spirit and helping it to penetrate the UK market, a few of which walked away with certificates from our very first Think Rum Awards yesterday.

Singled out for their work in the independent sector was spirits retailer Gerry's Soho, which currently stocks around 200 rums on shelf in the heart of London's Soho.

 Think Rum Awards 2017 full list: 


Best Rum Retailer (Multiple Sites)




Best Rum Retailer (Independent)


Gerry's of Soho


Best Rum Bar (Multiple Sites)


Mitchells & Butlers


Best Rum Bar (Independent)


Merchant House


Rum Communicator


Ian Burrell



While gin continues to pull customers through the door, general manager Allan Daly said that the loyalty of rum customers is the crux of much of the retailer's enduring business success.

"Sales are always fabulous with rum. A lot of people know us for our gins and tequilas, but people are more loyal when it comes to rum. It always gets people walking back through the door.

"Every year we make our own single cask rum, made from a selection of between 10 and 15 cask samples which are sent to us to choose from. Usually we sell the 450 bottles in around four weeks.

"It's nice to be recognised, as we do work very hard in the rum category," he said.

While spiced rum is simultaneously dividing opinion and driving growth for the category, Gerry's Soho has seen an increase in requests for South American styles of sweet rum.

"In terms of sales, the South American sweet style solera rum made using sherry casks are doing very well,' explained Andy Alba.

"This style has been popular for a long time, but now people are looking for it from different places.

"Don Papa gaining traction Philippines and we sell a hell of a lot of Mauritius rum." 

Speaking of the divisive spiced rum, he said: "Ten years ago spiced rum was the most popular style, but now more people are starting to educate palette and going for more sophisticated options."

Jez Manterfield, spirits category manager at Mitchells & Butlers which was named top rum bar with multiple sites, highlighted the importance of rum to the on-trade.

"Rum as a category is very significant for us. Market data shows that it's one of the three fastest growing spirits in on-trade, so it's definitely something we're keeping eye on it.

"We went hard with our gin activations last year and now we're looking to do the same with rum. We're going to be working with the biggest producers to give to make sure we have the best range possible and will be doing a bit of a re-balancing act on our menu and making sure rum is well represented," he said.