How we have crafted a true English Rum
The rumours are right, we've launched a rum range!
Since 2014, Winchester Distillery has been known for its range of popular and award-winning gins. However, we've never been very impressed by the production methods of rum in the UK and so we set ourselves the challenge to craft a Winchester Distillery rum made to our own high production standards.
What's wrong with UK rum?
Rum is fairly unregulated, unlike other spirits such as whiskey or gin which have strict definitions and production methods. The only rule for creating a rum is that the main ingredient must be sugarcane; sugarcane molasses, fresh sugarcane juice or concentrated sugarcane syrup.
Many commercial rums are made very cheaply in industrial quantities and then blended with caramel for colouring and additional sugar to mask harsh spirits. Many 'craft' rum brands buy these cheap rum spirits in bulk from across the globe and then optionally blend, colour and flavour them in-house before releasing them under their own label. With an increasing focus on sustainability, these long journeys for bulk spirits, filled casks or finished bottles seemed a very energy-intensive and somewhat dishonest way of creating a UK rum brand.
Taking the easy or cheap option is not in Winchester Distillery's DNA.
How is Winchester Distillery crafting rum differently?
We wanted to create a pure expression of what a true ‘English’ rum could be whilst being as sustainable as possible with our ingredients and production methods. We didn’t want to simply relabel a bulk rum as our own. Instead, our rums are made totally in-house by mashing high-grade sugarcane molasses - an excess ingredient from the sugar industry, readily available in the UK. Fermentation of the sugars into alcohol is achieved by using our own mix of carefully selected yeast strains, which add their own complex flavours to the liquid.
In Winchester we have limited access to the Caribbean heat(!), so instead we make use of our cool local temperatures for slow, controlled fermentation which creates a smooth but flavoursome 'English' style spirit. We then use distillation and maturation techniques most appropriate for the required end product, rather than simply using a single base rum for every product we release.
For example, our White Rum is column distilled for purity, softness and fine flavour selection with a high spirit collection point of around 94% ABV. This is then diluted and aged in stainless steel tanks for several weeks to allow any harsher, volatile flavours to evaporate. Furthermore, this technique enables the resulting caramel and sweet spice flavours to fully integrate into the spirit before bottling.
Our Golden Rum uses pot distillation with a collection point of around 85% ABV to broaden the range of flavours collected from the still. This serves as a rich base that would be too strong in flavour for a white rum, yet exemplary for softening during the barrel ageing process. This maturation also adds our satisfying golden colour, full body and flavour complexity. Once emptied, these casks are perfectly prepared for the long-ageing of our future English whiskey releases. Yes, you read that right!
No caramel or sugar is added at any stage during our rum production, and the heat energy from the still and leftover hot liquid from the distillation process is recycled to prepare the next batch of molasses mash.
Our English oak casks are made to our own specification here in the UK from sustainable forests in the north of England, which avoids the energy-intensive global supply chain.
We hope you can see the difference we’re making with our rum to be original, sustainable and, importantly, very drinkable.
We'd love to hear your feedback, either email us or leave a review on the product.