The real deal! - Campari CEO hails J. Wray & Nephew rum as top of the class
Having acquired the Jamaican entity J. Wray & Nephew (JWN) five years ago, one of the major player in the global spirits industry, Gruppo Campari, is lauding the quality of the rum produced locally.
CEO of Gruppo Campari, Bob Kunze-Concewitz, used his first visit to the island since the acquisition to applaud the quality of the rum produced by J. Wray & Nephew as he told The Sunday Gleaner that existing legislation locally ensures that consumers of Jamaican rum are getting premium quality.
"The process and the controls we have, the history, the know-how, and also because of Jamaican legislation, which means that whatever number you write on the bottle in terms of ageing that is the minimum ageing," said Kunze-Concewitz.
"In most other markets they use what's called the 'solera method'. With the solera method, if you have a bottle and it has 23 written on it there might be a drop of 23-year-old rum," added Kunze-Concewitz.
He said due to the Jamaican climate, up to seven per cent of a barrel of stored rum will evaporate, unlike in a country such as Scotland where only two per cent of the liquid will be lost.
But unlike in other countries where these barrels will be tapped up with fresh rum, in Jamaica rum of the same age is used to fill up each barrel.
"So to reduce cost in the solera method what they do is tap up the barrels every year with new liquid, so by the time it reaches 23 years (old) very little of the original rum is present," said Kunze-Concewitz.
"But what we do here (Jamaica) is that every three years we take all of the barrels from a certain year and then we cannibalise them, so it is always liquid of the same age in the barrels. So when we have a 21-year-old it is minimum 21-year-old rum, and when we have a 50-year-old it is minimum 50-year-old in there."
The Gruppo Campari boss said despite not using the solera method and the high volume of evaporation, the group ensures the profitability of its Jamaican product is ensured by the supreme pricing of Jamaican rum.
PREMIUM PRICE JUSTIFIED
According to Kunze-Concewitz, the premium price is justified by the exceptional quality of the local product.
Gruppo Campari is the sixth largest player worldwide in the premium spirits industry with a portfolio of more than 50 premium and super premium brands marketed and distributed in more than 190 countries.
But the company is so impressed with the Jamaican product that Appleton Estate is among its six global priority brands.
"So we have got our own marketing teams in 21 countries now with our own organisation, and our top priorities is Appleton Estates together with Campari, Aperol, Sky Vodka, Wild Turkey and Grand Marnier," said Kunze-Concewitz.
"We have a really fantastic brand portfolio - Appleton Estate, J. Wray & Nephew white overproof rum - those are really very strong brands which we think have huge potential internationally to grow, and we really believe long term that the high-quality darker aged rums and specialities like white overproof have big potential in many markets," added Kunze-Concewitz.
Board Chairman for J. Wray & Nephew Clement Lawrence is looking forward to the Jamaican-produced spirits penetrating new markets, something the previous owners were unable to fully achieve.
"One thing Lascelles deMercado Limited grappled with over the years was to get a good footing in terms of global distribution," said Lawrence.
"We made several attempts at that unsuccessfully, but now we are owned by the sixth largest spirits purveyor globally, and this has given us reach. So it really is a match made in Heaven."
But Kunze-Concewitz said as it relates to market access, it is a mutually beneficial partnership, as the acquisition has not only resulted in a stronger leadership position in Jamaica, but the Appleton Estate brand has also opened up the company to new market.
"Jamaica is a window where we can place our brands with all the tourist coming in here, so having a strong presence in Jamaica helps the rest of our portfolio.
"The Appleton Estate brand, particularly, had very strong positions in Canada and in Mexico, so it enabled us to open our own subsidiary in Canada and reinforce the one we have in Mexico, and it opened up a new category for us in the United States, which is the largest profit pool. Another brand which comes from here, but is not all that well known in Jamaica, is Karuba, and it gave us New Zealand," said Kunze-Concewitz