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Botl seeks ‘the butterfly effect’ with new rum brand

An exciting new locally-owned brand, Butterfly Cane Rum, is hitting the market this month after 18 months in development and a £500,000 investment by Botl Wine & Spirit Merchants.

Based on the Boucher Road in Belfast, supplier and distributor Botl is the sole owner of the innovative new brand targeting burgeoning demand for rum among the lucrative ‘Millennial’ market of 18 to 30 year olds.

While also offering a portfolio of other spirits, wine, cider and beer, Botl has a long-standing association with VAT 19 rum beyond its four years of trading but is shelving the dated brand to focus on its new launch.

Butterfly Cane Rum is an entirely new product, a premium-quality, 3 year old rum matured in oak barrels by Angostura-manufacturer Fernandes Family Distillers in Trinidad to hit the taste profiles currently popular in the rum category.

The brand name is inspired by nature, with the pure cane sugar grown in Trinidad and harvested when the native species of butterfly, known locally as the Scarlet Peacock, land on the crop feeding off the ripe sap.

The new brand is available as a 37.5% ABV, 3 year old golden rum alongside a Spiced variant, which is infused with a mix of spices and vanilla to offer the perfect balance of rich deep taste and spiced warmth at 35% ABV.

Botl, which is owned and operated by drinks industry stalwart Jim O’Neill with his son Conor as sales director, will be throwing its full weight behind the brand launch with a support package for customers listing Butterfly Cane Rum including tailored account activity.

“We were looking for a younger, more energetic drink,” says Jim. “The brand name and taste profile were researched thoroughly by an agency in London and we believe it will be more appealing to the younger generation. It will be positioned alongside the category leaders to take them on, and is premium in every way from the spirit itself to the labelling, packaging and carton quality. The label is UV inked to catch the light in nightclubs and we hope this level of attention to detail will give it universal appeal.”

O’Neill is well established in the local drinks trade, beginning his career with the Irish Bonding Company, Diageo and Hollywood and Donnelly, before founding and running United Wine Merchants for 20 years prior to its sale to Waverley TBS. Botl, which already boasts a £15m turnover, also operates a Nisa Local store and ABV cash and carry at Clandeboye.

Botl has a number of trading contacts with retail chains in Great Britain in place, and is seeking a distribution partner both there and in the Republic of Ireland to strengthen its position in those markets while interest is already coming in for the new brand from as far afield as the US.

In the NI market, customers include most off-license and grocery chains, and Butterfly Cane Rum will be making its on-trade debut in Laverys, Horatio group venues and a number of other high profile outlets.

“Our focus in the on-trade will be to build the brand in trendsetting pubs,” says O’Neill. “We will be working with mixologists to create cocktails around the product, and will be giving support to those listing it from optics and show cards to tasting events and promotions throughout the year.”

O’Neill is hopeful his investment will help boost a sluggish local market. “The people really investing in this business are the people doing business,” he says. “You can’t just open your doors and expect people to come. The market is very tight and isn’t growing but we’re growing so we must be taking market share.

“I’ve been involved in rum for 50 years, and it’s one of the few categories in growth while other spirits are in decline. It’s an exciting time for us; this is our future and can only be good for Northern Ireland. We have high expectations, and hope the trade will support this local product.”


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