The History of Rum in Scotland
Craft rums are well and truly on the rise in Scotland, with some experts predicting that the spirit could even follow in the footsteps of the ongoing gin revolution. But did you know there are some connections between rum and Scotland that date back as far as the 17th century? Here we’ll provide a brief history of this connection, and outline some of the latest Scottish craft rums for you to try!
Scotland’s Rum History
Before delving any further into rum’s ties with Scotland, we’ll first outline how rum is produced. Essentially, the spirit is made by distilling cane juice along with other by-products released during the processing of sugar. Rum was initially distilled by European Colonists and African slaves in the Caribbean as far back as the early 17th century and was then introduced to England via sailors and returning travellers from the West Indies.
This popularised the spirit across Britain, to the point where several refineries emerged in Glasgow across the 17th and 18th centuries because of this sugar boom. By the 18th and 19th centuries, rum punches were especially sought-after in Glasgow. The traditional beverage, the “Glasgow Sherbet”, was made with water, sugar, lemons and limes from the West Indies and later became the famous “Glasgow Punch” by adding rum imported from Jamaica into the punch bowls.
The growing popularity of rum and rum punches eventually led to Glasgow’s “Golden Age” of sugar, as transatlantic merchants shifted their focus towards sugar in the West Indies after the decline of the city’s tobacco trade with Virginia as a result of the American War of Independence in 1783. Consequently, the main trade of Glasgow following these events revolved around Caribbean products including rum, sugar and cotton.
Overall, the impact of these trades allowed Glasgow’s merchants to become extremely wealthy and the richest of their time. The merchants would regularly invest in property in the city centre area of Glasgow now known as Merchant City, with rum itself becoming the tipple of choice for the city’s upper class.
Scottish Rum Today
Now that we’ve outlined some of rum’s historical ties with Scotland, here are some of the latest craft rum producers emerging on the scene. From traditionally spiced rums to flavoured liqueurs, we’re sure you’ll find your new favourite from our selection below.
ABV: 43% Bottle: 70 cl Price: £35.00
Based in the heart of Glasgow, Spirit of Glasgow was named not only as it produces handcrafted spirits but because the founders wanted to celebrate and give back to the community spirit that they believe the city thrives on. One of their first spirits produced, Sugar House Spiced Rum, is named after the original Sugar House producers of Scottish rum over 300 years ago.
Spirit of Glasgow's Sugar House Spiced Rum is a rich and complex spiced rum, infused with a blend of fine whole spices to give a smooth and sweet flavour without the need for any added sugar. Made entirely by hand in Scotland to ensure it is consistently good, the spiced rum is distilled in a pot still which allows the blend of spices and natural flavourings to infuse with the rum. These include Madagascan vanilla, Ceylon cinnamon, lime zest and cacao beans which are infused for several weeks.
We’d recommend that Sugar House Rum is best served over ice or as part of your favourite cocktail.
ABV: 40% Bottle: 70 cl Price: £32.00
Based in their micro-distillery in Cummertrees in the south west of Scotland, Solway Spirits use the best quality ingredients from British suppliers and whenever possible will use locally foraged botanicals to create their luxuriously smooth spirits, including their Banoffee Rum.
Brand new in March 2018, Solway Spirits' Banoffee Rum is a full-bodied rum that has been blended with bananas and toffee for a smooth, slightly sweet but extremely warming drink. Made in batches of 50, each batch is bottled and labelled by hand which makes it the perfect gift idea with a personal touch. We’d recommend serving this one over ice with ginger ale or cola and a slice of lime.
ABV: 30% Bottle: 50 cl Price £25.00
Launched in September 2017 from the garden shed, Carnoustie Distillery is possibly the smallest distillery in the UK. Carnoustie Distillery is run by Billy & Jory Duncan - a father and son team who operate from their garden shed. The distillery is thought to be the smallest distillery in the UK and Jory is believed to be the UK's youngest distiller. Crafted with passion, the entire process including fermenting, distilling, bottling and labelling is done by hand.
For a twist on the traditional rum, we’d highly recommend trying one of Carnoustie Distillery’s many rum liqueurs, including flavours like Rhubarb, Toffee Apple and Caramel Banana!
ABV: Various Bottle: 70 cl Price: From £25.00
Created and developed by Sylvester Herman, Island Slice brings a taste of the Caribbean to every glass. Sylvester left his home on the island of St. Lucia in 2000 and throughout his travels he found he was always missing the taste of home. He has since created Island Slice to make him feel that little bit closer to home every time he has a drink. The recipes used are traditional Caribbean recipes, some of which have been in the family for more than 60 years! Each rum is blended, bottled and filtered in small batched in Dumbarton, Scotland.
With dark, spiced and coconut rums to choose from, you’ll be spoilt for choice! We especially love serving their best-selling Coconut Rum with a number of fruit juices over ice or as the base for exotic cocktails such as mojitos or daiquiris.
ABV: 40% Bottle: 70 cl Price: £35.00
Founded by Glasweigan school friends and rum lovers Zander MacGregor and Andrew Nairn, Wester Spirits Co. is named after the Wester Sugar House Company which was based in Candleriggs, Glasgow. The Wester Sugar House Company refined sugar and distilled rum in the heart of Glasgow from as early as 1667!
Wester Spiced Rum uses molasses from traceable sources around the world combined with a range of the finest spices that were chosen during a focus group with Zander and Andrew’s friends. The result is a rich, full-bodied spiced rum with notes of citrus, vanilla and spices including nutmeg, ginger and star anise. For the perfect serve, we’d recommend serving Wester Spiced Rum over ice or with a mixer of your choice!