THE HERTFORDSHIRE RUM DISTILLERY TAKING THE WORLD BY STORM

Ciaran Murray

Scratch Spirits has created a following for authentic British rum using techniques tweaked to suit the island’s climate, while gaining the attention of UK’s oldest wine merchant.

In news announced earlier today, Scratch, which is based in rural Hertfordshire, has become the first ever British rum to be listed by the fine wine and spirits merchant Berry Bros & Rudd in its 320 year history.

At the same time, Scratch have appointed specialist spirit distributor Oak & Still – the recently launched sales and marketing arm of family-owned Fine Wine Sellers – to handle sales to both the on trade and retail sectors.

As the name suggests, Scratch British Rum is made entirely from scratch in the UK, with the founder Doug Miller intent on creating a new and recognisably British style for the spirit.

To achieve this, Miller has spent several years perfecting the distilling process to suit the UK climate and his palate.

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As a result, he employs longer fermentations – in contrast to the hot and a fast ferments run by Caribbean producers – and UK refined molasses, while eschewing rum yeasts for a special strain of Champagne yeast that is better suited to the UK climate.

He also uses native-sourced wild hedgerow ingredients for his Botanical and Sloe Rums, casks with different characteristics for ageing, and the distinctive mineral qualities of the estate’s borehole water.

Starting from scratch: Doug Miller

However, Miller believes that the emerging British rum category is too loosely regulated, allowing some producers “to take the piss”.

He told db that there are UK businesses who are “importing rum from places like the Caribbean, flavouring it or diluting it in the UK, and then calling it British rum, or saying it is ‘crafted in the UK, or ‘crafted in’ whatever country this is done in.”

In contrast, Miller has taken the long and arduous route of producing Scratch British rum at his distillery in Hertfordshire using home grown ingredients “as much as possible”.

Highlighting the fast-growing nature of his new category, Miller said that there are as many as 20 ‘British rum’ producers in the UK today, up from just two five years ago.

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