Fast food chain KFC has joined forces with UK rum brand Dead Man’s Fingers to create a bespoke blended rum inspired by the flavours of KFC’s iconic 11 herbs and spices. The unique concoction challenges category conventions and presents new avenues for food and spirit pairing.

The new rum, branded as “Dead Man’s Fingers x KFC 11 Herbed and Spiced Rum,” retains the mystery of the Colonel’s secret recipe, but incorporates a balance of KFC’s herbs and spices, including black and white pepper, and even infuses the freshly fried flavour of their golden breading that makes its chicken appetising to so many consumers.

As part of the launch, fans of legal drinking age will be able to visit a pop-up store in Margate, UK, where bartenders will be serving up a series of cocktails with the new rum, alongside free fried chicken. The liquor is also available for pre-order online.

Rum sales outpaced whisky in the UK in 2022

While rum is already deeply entrenched in certain cultures, it is gaining traction in the UK, where rum sales outpaced whisky for the first time in 2022. The versatility of rum in cocktails, as well as the explosion of new flavours, have drawn new drinkers into the category and presented an exciting – and often more affordable – alternative to whisky. This new collaboration not only leverages the momentum of rum but also promises a unique flavour profile that nurtures experimentation and mixology.

Significantly, there is interest in savoury rum flavours among some UK drinkers. In fact, around one in eight drinkers in the UK (12%) consider salty, savoury, or umami flavour types to be appealing in rum, while slightly more (13%) are drawn to spicy flavours, indicating the potential merits of a fried chicken and rum pairing.

For KFC, a limited-time collaboration such as this is effective in injecting fun into a brand and garnering media attention with a novelty offering that hopefully goes viral. More specifically, though, the unexpected liquor creation presents KFC fans with a new way of enjoying a meal, by pairing it with something other than a soft drink or beer. This may be particularly appealing to younger consumers, who are not only open to experimentation but also frequent fast-food chains. For example, over a third (36%) of Gen Z and Millennial consumers order food and drinks from quick service restaurants at least once a week, while 44% of Gen Z consumers expect to order takeaway or delivery from restaurants with the same or greater frequency over the next three months.

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This unique fusion from KFC should not be seen as merely an attention-grabbing stunt, but rather an innovation that offers food service operators a genuine opportunity to put a premium on the quick service restaurant experience by making it more surprising and immersive.