Standing listening last night to The Macallan’s brand ambassador, Joy Elliot, who was conducting a tasting of the new 1824 Series at the Whisky Shop in London’s Piccadilly, I could not resist a feeling of déjŕ vu.
The original British Navy rum, which was bought from the Admiralty by CEO Charles Tobias in 1979 and marketed to the UK a year later, has historically been popular with ex-naval personnel.
The brand remains loyal to its traditional consumer, so the move has been described as a refocusing, not a repositioning by brand manager at Cellar Trends, Peter Thornton, who added that the “minimal interest” in the brand among younger drinkers could soon be rectified.
Thornton said he hoped the 6% volume sales growth (year to date) could be swollen to year-on-year growth of 22% by the end of 2012. In the UK the brand sells around 3,000 nine-litre cases a year.
The over-proof rum will be promoted in 40 tiki and rum-focused bars around the UK during October to December.
Bars that order two cases of Pusser’s will receive a small replica ‘scuttle-butt’ - the barrel from which the a naval ship’s Purser would dispense the daily rum ration to sailors - from which Pusser’s punches can be served to large parties.
Pusser's is still made to the original Navy recipe: a blend of six rums from Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad, distilled in wooden stills to an abv of 54.5%, aged for two years in French oak and naturally coloured.
Thornton said: “It is now time for Pusser’s Rum to make more of its unque qualities, which until now have mainly been appreciated by a naval and a sailing audience.
"I want to focus a lot more on bar managers and venues. By supporting bartenders they will hopefully do the work [in attracting a younger audience] for us. Tiki bars are a massive part of that."