[10 years of Rumporter] Hervé Damoiseau and Nicolas Legendre, Damoiseau rums

20 personalities decipher the last 10 years, and provide food for thought for the next 10.

Hervé Damoiseau & Nicolas Legendre

How has the rum market changed over the last 10 years?

Hervé Damoiseau: The problem with answering these questions is knowing which market we’re talking about.

The local market has nothing in common with the export market in mainland France, and even less so with what is known as Grand Export. We could say that rum is on an upward slope, with connoisseurs discovering this high-quality spirit that they were unfamiliar with, a product made from sugar cane that can be drunk white, as well as aged with extraordinary old vintages.

When you consider that rum ages 3.5 times faster than a spirit aged in mainland France, thanks to the climate, hygrometry, etc., in our tropical regions… That there have been a few too many excesses in trying to ride the rum wave, when the original distillers, whom we know, have spent 50 years improving and gaining recognition for the quality of our production, with rums produced just about everywhere, aged in mainland France, and so on.

It’s not that we’re afraid of competition, which, on the contrary, stimulates the market, but we do fear that consumers will be disoriented by so many new products and will no longer be able to identify and appreciate the original products that we distil. There has also been an explosion in brand blends, some of which even suggest that they produce the rum, when all they do is buy it and blend it!

Nicolas Legendre: Hervé has summed up the market’s evolution very well. I would add that in addition to the profusion of origins (which I think is a good thing for the dynamism of the rum market) there have been two trends which I think are less favourable. The first is the plethora of new producers (independent bottlers and micro-rum producers), who are not always aware of the regulations in force and who, carried along by their momentum, are marketing products with non-compliant or outright usurped designations.

The ODGs must be constantly on the lookout to identify these operators and remind them of the rules. In the meantime, there is a risk that consumer communication will confuse them.

Then there are the marketing abuses which, in an attempt to differentiate and stand out, lead some brands to offer products that are incomprehensible to consumers, or even make fanciful claims, even though these are not illegal. In my opinion, rum will not move upmarket by trying to imitate cognac or by imitating detergents. The identity of rum as a “luxury product” has yet to be established. It’s a very long and very difficult road, and one that is incompatible with an annual sales target.

How will it evolve over the next 10 years?

Nicolas Legendre: After the euphoria of the Covid years, sales are now in sharp decline, particularly in France. This trend, which is directly linked to problems of purchasing power, is set to continue.

Statutory consumption of spirits, which is becoming almost non-existent in Europe, is set to grow even more in the United States, in emerging countries and… in local markets, like Cognac and Champagne.

So there will be good prospects, both for those who have been able to build up an effective international distribution network, and for producers who are well established in their home regions. On the other hand, it will be difficult for producers whose distribution network and legitimacy are uncertain and based solely on marketing and communication.

Do you have any news you’d like to share with us?

In 2023, we launched two product ranges aimed at two different customer groups: the white rum “l’Expérience 69”, in 50 cl at 69°, produced from a Creole column distillation carried out in March 2017, and which was brought down from its distillation degree (88°,) to 69° over 4 years, so very slowly.

The rum then rested for 6 years in stainless steel vats before being bottled. No aging, then, but a highly aromatic rum that is accessible to all despite its high alcohol content. And the 15-year-old rum is one of Damoiseau’s secret classics, following in the footsteps of the 1989, 1991 and 1995 vintages. A powerful, aromatic rum that will appeal to lovers of authentic, traditional products.

In a completely different vein, we have launched the ‘Pas-Loma’ cocktail, a carbonated alcoholic drink made with Damoiseau agricolerum and grapefruit juice. It’s a festive drink, aimed at festival-goers, holidaymakers and Guadeloupeans on their weekend outings.

What does Rumporter mean to you?

Over the past 10 years, Rumporter has become a must-read magazine in the rum world, with its in-depth, well-documented articles and a critical spirit that, without lapsing into ultra-purism or elitism, puts the church back in the middle of the village.

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