A brand new distillery has popped up in the Scottish countryside …but it isn’t making gin or whisky! Rum is on the rise and Ninefold Distillery are riding high on the wave with their new venture.
Walking into Ninefold distillery I was blasted with a syrupy waft as the molasses were beginning their journey. The buildings are looking fresh and the whole place has a cool feel.
Dr Kit Carruthers has invested half a million pounds into building a top of the range distillery, converting some of his family’s farm buildings and becoming the first rum distillery in Dumfries and Galloway to start making rum from scratch. Kit has no former experience in the drinks trade and came to it all fresh. He has learned on the job and picked the brains of many others in the business who have helped him enormously. But his aim has always been to get a white rum to market and take the rest as it comes.
Speaking to Kit, I found him to be a one of the more honest businessmen I have interviewed. He openly admits his ambition is to create a product that can be used as an alternative to the leading white rum brand in bars. He isn’t trying to make a bespoke craft spirit using products that are foraged withing a five mile radius by barefoot goddesses. Ok, that is maybe a little flippant! Don’t get me wrong I have tasted some incredible craft spirits over the years, and I do appreciate a company that cares about their ingredients and process. But lately some makers seem to be so intent on their ”provenance” that they are forgetting about the end product and the consumer. It was refreshing to see the flip side and see someone set out to make a product specifically for the market.
White rum has a bad rep with Bacardi being your only option in a lot of bars. Over the last few years there has been a recognition that better rum could be made and that there is space on the market for it. Many spiced rums have popped up but Kit says that he isn’t interested in producing a spiced rum.
Their initial product is going to be a white rum. I was lucky enough to be able to see some of the initial distillations and the spirit is smelling fresh and tropical. Final product is only a little way off and they are all set up to go. The pallet of shiny new bottles was temptingly in reach but Ninefold, quite rightly, want to keep them under wraps until they can reveal them themselves. I cannot wait to see their design!
All rum starts off with the sugar cane plant. Ninefold use the syrupy mollasses that are the natural by-product of the sugar industry. They chose the mollasses based on yeild to cost ratio. The mollasses are distilled in a copper still into a clear alcohol and left for up to a month. (Their “still” still doesn’t have a name – my suggestion is Pam, just like me it is a little round and usually steaming!) Dark and golden rums are put in casks to mature and pick up flavour and colour. Ninefold already have purchased some fresh oak casks for their future. They have renovated an old cattle shed into a warehouse so they can store their own casks.
Kit has a mixologist friend in Glasgow that he is working with and will be using his experience to get his rum into the cocktail bar scene. White rum is the ingredient in so many cocktails and the market is ripe for some new additions.
The future is exciting (if stressful) for Ninefold with so much to come and the rum market at a point where gin was a decade ago. The audience is certainly there for this product – where would we be without our Mojitos and Mai Tais!
Keep your eyes peeled for the next installment in the Ninefold journey when I review their first batch!
Thanks to Kit at Ninefold for his time and letting me watch the distillery in action.