Whiskey is enjoying quite the renaissance among global drinkers these days, with U.S. distillers exporting $US1 billion worth of the brown stuff for the first time ever last year.
With that kind of success, other spirits want in on the action too.
That includes rum, not something Americans tend to sip neat or even on the rocks.
Brugal wants to change that with Papá Andrés, its new $US1,200-a-bottle premium rum.
Rum drinkers know Brugal well, especially those who have been to the Dominican Republic, where the brand has 80% of the market, and ordering “rum” at a bar will automatically get you a glass full of Brugal.
But with Papá Andrés, Brugal is trying to infiltrate the premium spirits market, and they’re only releasing 500 bottles this year.
The Edrington Group, which has owned Brugal since 2008, knows how to introduce high-end spirits to consumers. Their Macallan products are big-time favourites among monied scotch drinkers.
But Brugal? Isn’t that for cocktails and cruise ships? It’s hard to picture the titans of Wall Street knocking back a glass of Dominican rum neat.
Business Insider sat down with two of Brugal’s “Maestros Roneros” (master rum makers) to hear about the new product and give it a try.
The Brugal family has actually been making Papá Andrés for generations — the distillery is 125 years old. Every year, the Maestros Roneros take some of the best liquid from Brugal’s casks and add it to the special Papá Andrés casks, named for the company’s founder.
After years of this process, Brugal has made a crazy complex, high-end rum.
“We don’t know how old the liquid is,” Maestro Ronero Gustavo Brugal told us, laughing.
The family would only drink Papá Andrés on special occasions like family gatherings and weddings, and now it’s available to the public, although with a highly limited release.
We have to say, it was pretty terrific (it does cost a fortune, after all). Rich, fruity, with subtle notes of dry fruit and caramel. And about the smoothest rum you could possibly imagine.
It has a “very clean, dry, pure profile,” Gustavo Brugal said.
But releasing only 500 bottles will hardly make a big market impact. In the coming years, they’ll have to produce more.
For Brugal, this isn’t about their bottom line, it’s about making rum a “premium” spirit in the U.S. like scotch is. And it’s about making sure if the whiskey bubble does bust, rum will be there to pick up the pieces.
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