Yorkshire Rum: That’s The Spirit
Piers Moat races his 1957 Model Q4 ex-fire service hose truck. He has taken part in hot rod races and vintage drag racing events like Bridlington South Shore’s “Race the Waves”. He also delivers his rum in it.
“My first job was in a blacksmith’s shop. That was the foundation for the skills I picked up to be able to build my own still,” says the Bridlington-born-and-bred founder of “RumRunner” based at Stonepit Wood.
“After leaving school I worked as a tree surgeon, a mechanic and a cabinet-maker and joiner. I learned woodworking spending a large part of my childhood in my father’s workshop. For a while, I had my own manufacturing company. But I had always fancied our home as the perfect moon-shining spot! My partner, Taeg, and I live in an old quarry surrounded by woodland on the top of a hill. It’s very private and well hidden away. After watching the film Lawless and drinking a few too many whiskies, I ordered myself a 20-litre still. I had a play around with making my own spirits with some great success. I sold my joinery business and invested in my own distillery!
“A small-batch rum hub”
“We’re one of the few producers, fermenting, distilling, and cask-aging. We do all the cask repairs and restoration in-house. We use a 1000 litre copper pot still that was hand built from sheet copper by us.”
It took Piers five years to rebuild the former turkey shed and equip the distillery. While doing it, he lived in an old double-decker bus.
“The still hasn’t found itself a name yet but one of the fermenters has. It’s recycled from a blast-proof powder hopper and looks a lot like Sputnik. After I bent a leg while building the cradle it earned the name Sputkink!”
Yorkshire has become a small-batch rum hub. At Catterick Garrison, Sarah and Tony Brotherton use three hand-built stills to make Yorkshire Dales Distillery’s Spiced Golden Rum and Intrepid Ram. In Skipton, former barman Fred Harman’s Selfish Spirits Company produces Dark Spiced Rum from Guyana molasses as well as vanilla, blood orange and Mexican lime.
South Milford, Leeds is the home of God’s Own Rum while, based on the Ingilsby family’s Ripley Castle Estate, Harrogate Tipple makes chocolate , vanilla and Yorkshre honey-infused rums. Its unmistakable bottles carry a drawing of Donnie the Otter. 5p from every bottle sold goes to the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust to support their work around Follifoot and at the Staveley Nature Reserve.
“Leeds has become the new Dominican Republic”
In March 2022, Jago Packer’s Wicstun became the first licensed distillery in Market Weighton. Inspired by “The Great Escape” film and its homemade POW bunkhouse booze, Jago got into home-brewing while at boarding school in Scarborough.
Leeds has become the new Dominican Republic, Barbados, Jamaica, and Guyana. And home of a British rum pioneer. Libations Rum has just released a Rioja-finished ’ signature rum blend kept in a warm room inspired by the rick houses of Kentucky. It is the first British “tropically aged” rum.
“The room is kept at a constant temperature of between 15ºC and 30ºC, which encourages the casks to expand and contract. This process imparts more nuance, flavour and colour into the rum,” says con-founder Rory Armstrong. “We wanted to age and finish rum with a vastly different nature than that of continentally aged rum. The Cask Reserve Series is a series of limited edition bottlings that aim to shine a fresh light on some of the world’s best rum distilleries. Libations Signature Blend Rioja Finish, comprises 347 bottles.
It comprises rums from the Dominican Republic, Barbados, Jamaica, and Guyana – which spent three months in a Rioja wine cask. Libations Barbados 12 Year, is made up of 247 bottles, with its rum originating from the Foursquare Distillery in Barbados. Laid down in 2011, the expression was finished in an ex-Pedro Ximénez Sherry cask for two months in the warm room.
“The Cask Reserve Series is a real labour of love,” adds Armstrong. “Not only are we ageing and finishing some of the finest rums on the planet, but we’re also bringing something undeniably innovative to the category. Nobody in the UK has done this before; it’s really exciting that our small independent rum company has pioneered a new method of ageing.”
“Rum is thriving in North England”
The brand Crowdfunded more than £185,000 to build its rum distillery and blending house in 2021. Rum is thriving in north England. Concludes Piers of Twisted Roots : “I chose rum as it seemed a simple thing to start with. I gained a taste and appreciation for Rum from that point on. Plus the whisky world is a bit too much polo shirts and tennis shoes for my liking.
“The hardest thing about making rum is probably creating a consistent environment for the fermentation. The heating is supplied by a single wood-fired stove and is fired with windfall firewood from our own woodland. If the temperature drops too much the fermentation will crash and it’s very hard to get going again. The business name Twisted Roots came from some very simple inspiration. Sat at the table eating breakfast one morning I thought “what will I call the distillery” all I did was look outside. Being sat in the bottom of an old quarry the sight all around me was tree roots growing over the edge of the quarry face”.