Wise Monkey Rum seizing gap in mid-range market amid vigorous expansion activities

By Hui Ling Dang

- Last updated on GMT

Indian Spiced Rum is Wise Monkey Rum's latest blend and best-seller in the retail channel. ©Wise Monkey Rum
Indian Spiced Rum is Wise Monkey Rum's latest blend and best-seller in the retail channel. ©Wise Monkey Rum

Related tags Rum Middle east Alcoholic beverages

Dubai-based Wise Monkey Rum is actively expanding into new markets across the globe through both retail and on-trade channels, as it seeks to fill the gap in the mid-range rum category.

Launched in 2018 by Nirvana Works International Limited, the brand boasts a line-up comprising various rum blends, such as Café Rum, Mauritius White Rum, and Indian Spiced Rum.

Nirvana Works are master distributors in the spirit, wine, and beverage categories with more than a decade of experience working with entry-level brands and notable names, including Red Horse Beer and Saigon Beer.

Wise Monkey Rum is currently available in the UAE, Bahrain, and Zambia.

According to Chel Medrano, Business Developer for Nirvana Works, a consignment is on the way to the UK, while the firm is in talks to sell in Kenya.

“We are targeting the rest of the world. For example, we are targeting Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt, as well as other travel retailers such asDubai Duty Free, in the Middle East. For Africa, we want to be in Kenya, Rwanda, Cameroon. In Europe, Latvia, Germany, France and Denmark are in the pipeline.

“The USis also a target market. In fact, we have our distiller there — they are going to be our distributor, so it will be easier for us to expand into the South American region, where rum is much more popular. We’re also looking at South East Asian markets like Singapore, Philippines and Hong Kong,” ​Medrano told FoodNavigator-Asia​.

She added that the company has existing partners in these markets who have indicated interest in Wise Monkey Rum.

“We aim to be everywhere, thus we have to be in retail shops so that the ordinary Joe can pick up a bottle. At the same time, we have to be in the on-trade sector, which are the hotels and bars, as part of their pouring menu. Notably, premium rums don’t move as much in retail shops; they sell better in bars.”

The next big drink?

Although rum is presently less consumed than whiskey in the Middle East, its popularity is on the rise, said Medrano.

“When we were formulating for Wise Monkey Rum back then, gin was still a top category. We were preparing for the next trend, which we believe would be rum. Globally, there aren’t many options for good-quality rum, except the expensive or the cheap ones.

“All of our products are molasses-based, unlike some distillers who use grain spirits for their liquor. We incorporate unique formulations to offer a unique taste, but we don’t compromise on the quality of our ingredients and liquor, and yet we sell our products at an affordable price. We have done blind tastings with mixologists and bartenders featuring all these brands, and our liquor just stood out [to them].”

Recognising the gap for mid-range rum, Wise Monkey has priced its products between USD9 to USD11 per 700cl bottle.

In terms of best-selling flavours, the Indian Spiced Rum garnered significant attention during its limited batch release and is now a fixture in the brand’s line-up.

“We thought that [stocks for] the Café Rum or White Rum would get depleted more, but surprisingly, it is the Indian Spiced Rum that is selling very well in retail shops.

“The White Rum is usually used in hotels and bars. It is performing quite well in Bahrain, especially as we are partners with [alcohol supplier, distributor and retailer] African and Eastern there.”

Having identified its target consumer group to be aged between 21 and 35, Wise Monkey Rum has laid down several marketing strategies on its drawing board.

“Right now, we are doing a lot of collaborations. During the Christmas period in December, we worked with home and professional bakers to make rum cakes. The main idea is that rum is not just for drinking, but people can also experiment and see what they can do with it.

“This year, we are planning on extending that further, such as participating in a lot of events and concerts. For instance, we were at theTaste of Abu Dhabi festival, where a lot of youngsters were drawn to our rum. For an upcoming event, we are looking to create desserts using rum.”

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