New premium Devon rum keeps Britain’s spirits high
Leading food and drink writer Tim Stathers tastes a new brand of premium rum that is taking the industry by storm and putting a small Devon village firmly on the spirits map.
From the sleepy streets of South Devon to the capital’s trendiest bars and clubs, rum’s the word for 2019. With UK annual sales topping £1bn for the first time last year, the spirit long associated with pirates, drunken sailors and tropical climes is making a real stake for being the next big thing.
But South Devon we hear you ask, really? Yes. Really. Deep in the rolling hills of one of England’s prettiest regions, lies a new craft distillery that’s bringing premium UK rum to the masses.
Regular readers will know too well that we at LLM don’t like to settle for anything short of the best. So when the man behind Holbeton-based Hattiers Rum invited me to try his award-winning blend of Caribbean and Central American aged rums, naturally I couldn’t resist.
The brainchild of Devon businessman, Philip Everett-Lyons, and his family team, Hattiers Rum was launched in 2017 following years of perfecting the ultimate blend of fine rums and pure Dartmoor water. Fuelled by his passion for life at sea, the desire to create a legacy for his young family and a penchant for fine spirits, rum seemed the obvious choice. And at a time when premium spirits are booming and a gin distillery stands on every other street corner, he might be onto something.
Unrelenting in his desire to create nothing short of exceptional rum, Philip’s philosophy on Hattiers is simple – “if it isn’t the absolute best, we won’t bother making it!”. It’s this determination to create a standout spirit that has seen Hattiers’ Premium Reserve Rum pick up a host of international awards.
That’s all well and good I hear you say, but what exactly is premium rum? It’s a good question. As I sit at my desk with a glass of the golden coloured spirit in front of me, Philip’s voice jumps out of my phone with all the enthusiasm of a man who has just discovered time-travel. I hear something about “caramel scents”, “woody heat”, “former bourbon casks” and “the purest natural water you can find”. It’s at this point I feel the need to be honest – premium rum is not something I have experience of and I wonder, does anyone?.
I’ve done the cocktail rounds for sure, and I’ve had my fair share of rum and cokes. But no barman ever stopped to ask me which rum I’d like. It’s not like ordering a G’n’T and being handed a two page gin menu; “rum is just, rum… isn’t it?”.
Philip’s response is unrenting, “that’s why you’re exactly the best person to try it!”. He goes on to explain how this rum, although a high-end premium spirit, is for everyone. Put it in your favourite cocktail, mix it with ginger beer or sip it on ice like you would a fine whisky, premium rum isn’t something to be afraid of. So we start again, I take a sip and follow his commentary. I get the caramel, and the woody heat. And the finish, it’s creamy – it really is. Less harsh than whiskey, more satisfying even. Warm, easy. I go back for more.
By the time Philip hangs up the phone, I’m sold. Not just by his energy and enthusiasm and not just by my first experience of a premium sipping rum. It’s the package. The bottle with it’s signature shape and distinctive label. The spirit inside, golden and exotic. The commitment to quality (working with the world’s most famous distillery, Foursquare, and hand-picking 4 exceptional base rums from Barbados, The Dominican Republic, Panama and Guatemala). There’s the history of it all, the world’s oldest distilled spirit and it’s rise from rags to riches. And then there’s the fact that all of that is brought together in a little corner of Devon. Where family values, honesty and trust have seen Hattiers create a UK rum brand that embraces local artisans and other independent businesses.
Philip spoke fondly of the friendships he’s made. Working with regional partners like Luscombe Drinks and Hunts Devon Cider, as well as one of the UK’s most foremost rum experts, Georgi Radev of cocktail bar Laki Kane in Islington. Creating stunning new rum recipes like the Hattiers Drumbeat and a mouth-watering hot rum punch that can be enjoyed by everyone. It really feels like no stone has been left unturned by Philip and the Hattiers team, and it comes across with every sip.
If rum really is to be the next big spirit, and all signs are pointing that way, get ahead of the curve by adding a bottle of Hattiers Premium Reserve to your drinks cabinet. Trust me on this, you and your drinking buddies won’t know what’s hit them. Buy online at Hattiers.com, where a 70cl bottle costs £42, or keep an eye out in cocktail bars and independent spirit merchants across the country. Rum’s the word.