Take 5... design's top rum brands

One category. Every two weeks. Five of the world’s most charismatic designs.

Welcome to Take 5 where The Drum, along with jones knowles ritchie (JKR) Singapore strategy director Katie Ewer, take a bi-weekly look at some of the design industry’s best imagined packaging design where you, the reader, are in control.

Every other Friday we’ll pick a theme and ask you to submit the design you feel deserves a top spot. You’ll have one week to get your entries in, the votes will be counted and the best of lot will be published the following Friday. (Make sure you scroll down to find out the next topic winging its way).

But back to today's theme: rum. Rum used to be the poor man’s whisky. Its reputation was rough, unshaven and a bit bawdy. Perhaps it’s Jack Sparrow’s influence, but the rum category is successfully trading on its outsider appeal, blending the relatively sweet taste of the product with the edginess of its image.


Industry rumour has it that the brief on Kraken was to ‘kill the Captain’ (a reference to the spiced rum market leader, Captain Morgan). A brilliant brief, and an exceptional design response. Since Kraken, you can hardly throw a stick in a rum bar without hitting a bottle that has a piratical theme.

Sailor Jerry

Sailor Jerry proves that imperfection is sometimes the magic ingredient in spirits branding. It’s got an asymmetrical label, no back bar standout, and some really dodgy typography. But as a result, it feels human and authentic, and that makes all the difference.


Apparently bats used to nest in the rafters of the first Bacardi distillery in Cuba, attracted by the smell of molasses (or perhaps they were just too drunk to move). Symbols of good fortune, they were adopted as the brand’s icon. Now, Bacardi’s brand spirit celebrates its heritage with a vibe that seems to evoke the heyday of 1930s Cuba. And the bat has evolved from slick to hairy.

Don Papa

It’s hard to get noticed on the back bar. You can either be so fundamentally distinctive that you interrupt the horizon (Absolut, Maker’s Mark), or you can be weird in a way that invites attention through intrigue. Don Papa certainly delivers on weird. It looks like a bank note from some tropical country. Is Don Papa it’s dictator? Why has he got a bush baby in his cravat and an iguana on his head? I don’t want to know, actually. I like a bit of mystery with my rum.

Lola Belle

Shiver me timbers, there’s no nautical iconography in sight! Lola Belle is a cherry flavoured Caribbean rum and it’s a wonderful antidote to this category’s masculine conventions. Apparently it’s named for a ‘legendary burlesque dancer who adorned herself with cherries on stage’. Now there’s an idea for the weekend. Chin chin!

Join us, it's free.

Become a member to get access to:

  • Exclusive Content
  • Daily and specialised newsletters
  • Research and analysis

Join us, it’s free.

Want to read this article and others just like it? All you need to do is become a member of The Drum. Basic membership is quick, free and you will be able to receive daily news updates.