Scotland has long been famous for whisky and, more recently, its gin has made quite a splash.
As Matugga Distillers start production at its new facility in Livingston, it looks as though we will soon be toasting a new addition to the country's rum output.
Founded by husband and wife, Paul and Jacine Rutasikwa, Matugga Distillers promises an expansion of their award-winning rum range.
Described as ‘golden and spiced rums crafted with African soul’, the rums draw inspiration from the couple’s Ugandan and Jamaican family heritage.
Originally distilled in England before moving production to Scotland, Matugga has a uniquely East African flavour profile.
As well as using sugar cane molasses from the region for their golden rum, their spiced rum incorporates flavours from a masala chai blend of black tea, ginger, cloves, vanilla, cardamom and cinnamon.
The Rutasikwas began exploring Central Scotland when Paul – a chartered civil engineer by trade – started a Masters Degree in Brewing and Distilling at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh.
The family – which includes their two young daughters – relocated from London to Livingston in July 2017.
The company has been retailing its rum range since 2015 and exports to the EU thanks to a listing with French distributor, Dugas.
Sip, savour and share
The new £100K facility in Livingston is equipped with two 200 litre copper pot stills, capable of producing 50,000 litres of artisanal rum in its first year; the equivalent of 2m single rum serves.
Over the next twelve months, the firm is forecasting a 400% increase in turnover and is hoping to create five new full time roles; including positions in distilling and business development.
Master Distiller, Paul Rutasikwa, feels an affinity with Scotland’s distilling heritage:
'Scotland has hundreds of years of distilling expertise and history. This, combined with my African heritage, is what will inspire us to create new and exciting rums. We can think of no better place to be launching our new distillery and beginning such an exciting journey.
'The ethos of Matugga Distillers is underpinned by the Swahili saying "pole pole" (pronounced poleh poleh), which means "slowly slowly". We want people to slow down, sip, savour and share our rums with friends and family.'
CEO, Jacine Rutasikwa, is looking forward to introducing Matugga rums to the Scottish market:
'Building on the success we’ve had in Europe, the next year will see us focus on making friends and contacts in the on-trade and off-trade; while continuing to bring something different to the UK rum scene as a whole.
'The signature smoky aspect of our rums isn’t dissimilar to lightly peated whiskies; making them the perfect sipping spirit or a quality addition to popular cocktails, like an Old Fashioned.'
While the range of rums marketed as Scottish is not as wide as the number of Scottish gins available, it is growing.
Leaving aside the Scottish companies which bottle and sell rum produced in the Caribbean, Scottish rums include Dark Matter, Dundedin, Solway, Wester and Sea Wolf.