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Bar Convent breakdown: Rum under the spotlight at BCB

Published:  07 October, 2019

Rum is this year’s star player at Bar Convent Berlin – the show which puts the spotlight on the biggest hitting trends driving growth and engagement in the bar sector.

The diversity, and growing quality and appreciation of rums from 24 countries is being played out over various stages and seminars at this year’s show, which includes a dedicated ‘rum stage’ and beach-bar installation.

Organisers said that rum was by far and away the “number one area of interest from a spirits point of view” submitted ahead of this year’s show.

According to BCB’s director of education, Angus Winchester, the interest has stemmed from the fact that rum has migrated from “a favourite of bartenders” to an increasing area of interest for consumers, as well as galvanised support from the industry “working to come up with unified rules”.

“Sales and volumes of rum have always been there,” added global rum ambassador and personality Ian Burrell. “Some of the biggest brands in the world are rum, but it’s often not communicated or it’s drunk locally. The exciting thing is that people are asking questions. Knowledge and understanding is growing, and that’s helping growth.”

Rum is one of the largest spirits categories on display, behind gin (170 products) and liqueurs (120) at BCB 2019. Over 90 products are being shown across the rum category.

Vodka, tequila and mezcal, bitters, aperitifs and whisky, among others are also some of this year’s heavy hitters, along with tonics and soft drinks.

“Low and no is receiving a great deal of attention,” said BCB director, Petra Lassahn. “It’s a fascinating growth area.”

But it is rum that is soaking up most of the attention, with Mauritius holding the title of ‘country of honour’ at this year’s show for its long history of rum production. 

Burrell said: “It’s one of these islands that historically has changed hands a lot, from the Dutch to the English and the French.

“There are many different styles of rums on the island, but one of the fastest growing categories is spiced and flavoured, and Mauritius is known for these styles…from its fruit infusions to increasingly, more and more quality premium rums, which employ European techniques from Cognac and brandy. This an emerging rum nation – in the next five to 10 years, it think they will be as well known as rums from the Caribbean.”

Rum will continue to play a key role in the evolution of other spirits trends, such as localism, the panel said at this morning’s opening BCB briefing.

Looking ahead to the focus of next’s year’s show at the new Berlin ExpoCenter City venue, Winchester said: “It could be any number of things. But I think we’re going to see an increase in technology coming into our industry in different ways, whether that’s new formats and speed of service – canned, pre-bottled and draught cocktails – or utilising social media.

“There’s also the recognition of the power we have as an industry within the social sphere. Technology, responsibility, diversity, sustainability – we have a great platform to focus on the things we’re doing well, and also look at what we can improve on.”

Winchester also spoke about championing creative and inclusive ways of tackling challenges within the industry.

One such initiative is a notable new scheme to create jobs for former convicts within hospitality – helping to curb staff shortages while also boosting social rehabilitation and reform.

Rum will also play a major role in the growing social conscience around the health of the planet and the upswing in localism, panellists believe. 

Increasingly, consumers will “look for spirits like Clairin from Haiti – spirits that reflect smaller geographical areas…more interesting, obscure spirits that really reflect where they come from,” Winchetser said.

Burrell added: “As people have more knowledge and the world gets smaller, I think we will see more regional styles of rums taking bigger ownership of the rum category. We can see this happening in Jamaica. Jamaicans now have their own geographical rules for their rums, which is something that’s already well established in places like Cognac, Scotch and Irish whiskey.”