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19 Crimes makes strategic move into rum

As rum sales continue to snap at the heels of other spirits categories, wine brand 19 Crimes wants in on the action, launching new 19 Crimes Spiced Rum this month.

Californian wine brand 19 Crimes has become known for its arresting, often controversial, marketing campaigns, including a limited-edition bottle of Syrah for St Patrick’s Day which featured the face of John Devoy, who was “part of the Irish Republican brotherhood”, on the bottle.

19 Crimes has also come under fire in recent years for its ‘prison chic’ image, which some commenters say glamourises the grim reality of incarceration.

The name of the wine brand in fact harks back to a list of 19 crimes identified in 18th-century Britain, the perpetrators of which were exiled to live in Australia as their punishment. According to the brand, 19 Crimes wines celebrate “the rebellious spirit of the more than 160,000 men and women that forged a new culture in Australia.”

This month marks a seminal moment for the household name as the 19 Crimes brand expands to include its first spirit – a “disruptive” spiced rum created in partnership with Quintessential Brands.

With aromas of mango and pineapple, and notes of caramel, molasses, and vanilla, the rum is said to have “upfront flavours of toffee and a hint of cocoa”, while notes of oak and sugarcane molasses round out the body, leading to a long fruity finish with a hint of spice.

19 Crimes says its new product (RRP: £28) is the only spiced rum available “that has a convict fronting its square bottle”.

The rum’s packaging also features an augmented reality (AR) label, which brings to life the character of escapee Mary Bryant, one of Australia’s most infamous convicts. Along with five others, Bryant escaped the convict settlement at Botany Bay and survived deadly storms to journey through the Great Barrier Reef to reach the island of Timor.

In its marketing literature 19 Crimes claims its brand turns “convicts into colonists”. This emphasis on colonisation is likely to become increasingly polarised, given the recent outcry over Maison Ferrand taking more than three years to change its Plantation rum name.

Rum that breaks the rules

“19 Crimes is known for being a daring and rebellious brand that breaks the rules,” says Russell Kirkham, head of regional marketing EMEA Treasury Premium Brands, who added that creating a spiced rum was “the next natural step for us as a brand.”

It’s the perfect time to tap into the growing popularity of the category with the global rum market expected to reach a value of US$17.68 billion by 2027, according to The Business Research Company’s Rum Global Market Report 2023.

Indeed, rum is predicted to sell 173 million nine-litre cases in 2024, up from 2022’s figure of 158m, says market research and industry analysis firm Euromonitor International.

According to Kirkham, 19 Crimes Spiced Rum is a “disruptive take on the rum category” and aims to give younger consumers a taste of high-quality spirits.

Quintessential Brands, which owns gins Opihr and Greenall’s gin, as well as The Dead Rabbit Irish Whiskey, has worked carefully with 19 Crimes on the launch.

“We have a strong track record of working in conjunction with major wine and spirits brands, so I know that together with the fantastic team at TWE, the 19 Crimes Spiced Rum will be a huge success,” said Enzo Visone, CEO and founder, Quintessential Brands.

19 Crimes Spiced Rum will be sold via Tesco with an RRP of £28 for 70cl (37.5% ABV).

As db has reported, Treasury Wine Estates is being sued by Vampire Vineyards for a limited-edition wine it released lfor Halloween last year called 19 Crimes Dracula Red Blend. Vampire Vineyards owner Michael Machat, who has a background in trademark law, claims the 19 Crimes wine was likely to “cause confusion” with his own wines, and to “deceive the public at large”.

Machat is demanding to receive a minimum of US$15 from every bottle of Dracula Red Blend sold in the US and US$36 for each bottle sold in the on-trade.




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