Home Latest Happenings Q&A With The Founder of ‘Rhum Fest Paris’

Q&A With The Founder of ‘Rhum Fest Paris’

Rhum Fest Paris

Rhum Fest Paris is just around the corner and their celebrating the 6th edition of the festival. We spoke with the founder of Rhum Fest, Cyrille Hugon, to discuss his success with the festival and what’s next for the evergrowing category.

This year Rhum Fest will the biggest it’s ever been, doubling in size since 2018. With over 50+ countries represented, 170+ brands and 45,000+ attendees, the event is going to be every rhum-lovers Christmas.

Tell us about the vision and ethos of ‘Rhum Fest’ when you first started and how has it changed since then?

In 2006, when Ian Burrell started his festival it was a very exciting time, the beginnings of the rum boom. I really enjoyed the atmosphere at Ian’s festival and the fact that rum people were very accessible. We (at this time) dealt mostly with passionate people, owners of major brands, start-ups, not with marketing people from multinational companies and that hasn’t really changed since then. In 2011 I realised I had everything in my hands to create my own rum festival in France.

What has changed since the first one?

A lot! I remember for instance that in 2008 to 2010 most french rums were still in a defensive position, traumatised by 40 years of volumes going down and distilleries closing. Though the survivors had already started their mutation toward quality and innovation.

We have since seen new distilleries opening all over the globe: Asia, Africa, US. Jamaica has also started to consider changing its paradigm from bulk to limited edition.

Mauritius Island has changed a stupid law compelling them only to produce a kind of vodka. So many things have happened in such a short time.

Why do you think the festival has grown so exponentially in the last 6 years?

Rum is booming and attracting new players every year. The other day I was talking with David, from Issan Rum Distillery. He told me that when he first started with his premium white Agricole Rum, he was among 4 or 5 others in that niche. But, today there are more than 50 white Agricole style rums that are even more expensive than his.

France is lucky to have such a huge network of independent wine and spirit shops, who are all focusing on quality, education and communication to combat against the massive supermarkets. This network allows many brands to co-exist on our market. That’s why France is a natural starting country for new brands.

What’s next on your list to conquer?

To showcase rums from Africa and helping our friend Max Traverse make a superb rum festival in Hong Kong (Asia is definitely a promising land for rum).

Rum is a growing category at the moment, why do you think this is?

It is so true, and this assertion covers many realities. To begin with, rum is so versatile. Spiced rums are also booming. It was once a homemade hobby and it’s now reaching seven digit figures in France. Established brands are also coming out with more and more products like special casks finishings, cane mono-varietal versions, small batches, single casks, etc.

In France, white and gold rums are declining when aged rums have had double digits growth for the past five years… And the word spreads. The number of festivals and books that have appeared are evergrowing. So indeed rum is expanding and I believe it is going to last.

What’s a quick synopsis of what someone is to except at this years ‘Rhum Fest’.

Tastings, education, encounters, dreams and fun.

Rum is a growing category at the moment, why do you think this is?

It is so true, and this assertion covers many realities. To begin with, Rum is so versatile. Spiced rums are also booming. It was once a homemade hobby and it’s now reaching 7 digit figures in France. Established brands are also coming out with more and more products like special casks finishings, cane mono-varietal versions, small batches, single casks, etc.

In France, white and gold rums are declining when aged rums have had double digits growth for the past 5 years… And the word spreads. The number of festivals and books that have appeared are evergrowing. So indeed rum is expanding and I believe it is going to last.