Blog: Andy MortonThink you know the future for rum? Join the club

Andy Morton | 9 May 2014

It was the biggest swing in London since the '60s. 

Presented with the motion “The future for rum lies with connoisseurs not clubbers”, the audience at last night's Worshipful Company of Distillers debate looked odds-on to uphold it, after a pre-event poll showed a majority in its favour. An hour, and a second vote, later, though, and the room had turned.

To be fair to Ed Pilkington, Diageo's Western Europe marketing head and whose job it was to support the motion, he was up against it. His adversary on the night, former Bacardi man Chris Searle, only had to open his speech with the words “clubbers are many, connoisseurs are few”, and the debate, for my money, was over.

We were, after all, in the JP Morgan suite at the old Prudential insurance headquarters in the city of London, the financial capital of the world. Most of the 150-strong audience were analysts, brokers or people otherwise engaged in the pursuit of money.

Pilkington's attempt to persuade them that the niche world of collectors and spirits aficionados could support rum's growth appeared lightweight when compared to Searle's description of a huge clubbing consumer base that is getting bigger by the year. 

“Clubbers are aspirational, and going global,” Searle said. “And their numbers are compelling for the future of rum.”

For many of us in the audience, it was case closed.

Sectors: Spirits

Companies: Bacardi, Diageo

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