The latest data from the trade body’s annual Spirits Report, which compiles all spirits sales figures from last year, revealed that in 2016, Brits bought almost 34m bottles of rum, worth £960m.
This is 6% more than the volume sold last year in pubs, bars and restaurants. In the past five years, rum has seen sales rise 15% in volume and 32% in value.
There has also been a big increase in the number of rum brands on the UK market since 2006. Back then the number stood at 50 – a figures that soared to more than 150 by 2016.
The WSTA has also attributed the spirit’s growth to Tiki bars, and a revival in the serving of exotic tropical-themed rum-based cocktails such as Mai Tais and Zombies.
The value of total spirit sales last year reached more than £10bn, with nearly half of UK drinkers, around 24m people, choosing to drink spirits – a rise of 8% on 2015, according to the report.
WSTA chief executive Miles Beale lauded the rise of new rum brands entering the spirit market, but also called on the Government to freeze duty.
He said: “Rum is another spirit punching above its weight and benefiting from the cocktail craze. We are pleased to see a flurry of new British rum brands popping up in recent years.
“As we have seen a rapid growth in the number of distilleries in the UK, a new wave of UK spirit makers are turning their hand to rum production.
“We are calling on the Government to support our innovative spirit makers by freezing excise duty until Budget 2018 and reviewing its regressive policy of year-on-year inflationary rises in excise duty for the full term of the current Parliament."
He added: “With 78% of an average-priced bottle of rum made up of tax, UK consumers are being punished, and the potential of our internationally recognised spirits industry is damaged too.
“Recent history shows that lower rates of duty are proven to boost business and bring more money into the Treasury’s coffers.”
Cellar Trends rum and cocktail category development manager Peter Thornton said: “The general interest in rum has grown a lot over the past couple of years.
“I am seeing more faces at tastings and masterclasses and people asking more questions too. People genuinely want to know more.
“Some of this is brand-led – smaller/lesser-known brands draw a lot of curiosity – but for most, it is cross-category knowledge they want, which can only be a good thing for rum.”