Rum continued its solidly winning ways in 2008; the second-largest spirit category as a whole advanced 2.9%, nearly 700,000 cases to a modern record total of 24.610 million cases. Itâ€™s the 14th year in a row of gains for the New World spirit, driven by the ubiquity of the Mojito cocktail, the boom in flavored rums, the increasing number of brands entering the U.S. market and the impact of Latin culture on the U.S. consumer overall. The category also benefited from premiumization: the Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S. reports that premium rums grew 8% last year.
How well has rum done? In 1994, rum hit bottom, sinking to the lowest level it had fallen in more than 14 years, achieving less than 12 million cases. But in 1995, the category started adding volume rapidly, growing annually since then by at least 2.5%, doubling its volume to where it nears the total amount of all imported whiskey.
Increasingly, bar and restaurant operators and retailers are making room on their shelves for more rum bottles. Some are new flavored brands used to spike cocktails with tropical flavors (like guava and mango), while other aged and more complex brands are entering the market from the Caribbean and Central America, expanding the range and quality of products sold here and ramping up the quality perception of rum.