What made you decide to move back to Devon and start making Hattiers Rum? And why rum over any other spirit?
Hattiers Rum came to life after my wife and I moved back home to the beautiful South Hams in Devon after spending a decade in the world of film and television, followed by working within publishing and renewables. After years of adding value to other people's businesses and finding myself bursting at the seams with creative energy and ambition, 2017 seemed the right time to do something for myself and my family. Around the same time our first daughter Henrietta was born, along with the Hattiers company name.
You hear many inspiring stories of brands who start at their kitchen table and the Hattiers story is no exception. It all started with a personal stock of over 40 rums and an 18 month journey of due diligence and discovery to find the very best rum producers and partners to work with from around the world.
Rum has for far too long been seen as whisky’s poorer cousin with a history that is often murky and rife with misinformation, however it is a wonderfully versatile spirit with hundreds of years of heritage and tradition. For many years, the rum industry has been, and still is, largely unregulated which has resulted in varied fermentation, distillation and ageing processes, producing remarkably different and unique rums with characteristics akin to specific regions and distilleries. This vast array of rum styles is a master blender’s dream as we are able to identify specific flavour profiles that we want and combine them to create a liquid that will challenge even the finest single malt whisky.
What was the process like to create each blend and why does water play such an important part?
The best part of having full creative control over what we do is that we don't tie ourselves to the traditional way of blending and bottling rum. Historically, blends have been of the same distillery, island or multi islands; for example a Caribbean blend, but we do not subscribe to the status quo or traditional industry standard. Instead we find rums that we think taste amazing and find ways to make them even better. Our earlier blends consisted of rums from the Caribbean and South America and our latest blends also include a rum from Australia, which has much more of a wooden, oaky flavour that is akin to the style of a Jamaican style rum, it is round and robust which adds something unique to the blend. We are completely transparent with our blends, stating the countries of origin and distillation methods on the back of every bottle.
Once we had sourced some of the finest rums the world has to offer and knew exactly what we wanted to create, the next step was finding the right water to marry the component rums together and bring them down from cask to bottling strength. If you look closely at our bottles you will see a number 13 within the label design - this is the number of waters that we went through before finding that the best one was right under our noses the whole time, just a few miles away on Dartmoor. The soft, highly mineralised water adds to the creaminess of the rum, making it beautiful to sip and wonderfully smooth.
You do all your rum blending and bottling in house – why was this an important decision for you?
Having everything in-house not only ensures that the rum is always the absolute best that it can be, as every batch is blended and sampled by myself, but it also keeps us grounded. Running a business like Hattiers with a small company headcount means that there is always an incredibly varied jobs list, so sometimes opening a bottle of rum or doing a blend run is exactly what is needed to remind us of why we’re here and doing what we’re doing - it’s all about the rum and we love what we do. Every time we open a bottle we have to fall in love with it all over again, and if there’s a shortcut to be had then we’re not doing it, it’s not good enough.
You’ve tried to be plastic-free since day one. Why did you choose Flexi-Hex over other packaging solutions and how has Flexi-Hex helped your business?
By being bold from the start and always sticking to our guns, we were able to reduce excess packaging, be plastic-free from day one and build an ethical and sustainable business without impacting our product in any way. If we are going to do something, then we always strive to do it right and do it the first time. Of course when we first started the business we could have saved a few pence by sending our bottles out in plastic air sac sleeves, but that wouldn’t have been the right thing to do. We have an internal moral code - if something doesn’t seem right or feel right then it’s not the right thing to do and we shouldn’t let it happen. We were early adopters of Flexi-Hex® bottle packaging and we are so glad that we did. Breakages are unheard of and our customers are happy in the knowledge that their rum will arrive safely in environmentally friendly packaging that doesn’t cost the earth.
Going forwards we have also vowed not to produce any unnecessary packaging which includes the use of single bottle gift boxes. We made this announcement after aborting a large order of gift boxes that were due to arrive just in time for Christmas last year. With a finger hovering over the order send button, something did not feel right as the question of wasted energy, water consumption and additional materials (albeit sustainably sourced, recycled material and recyclable) was not answered. Our view was that there was no need to increase the impact of our business when we already send our bottles out in beautiful and sustainable Flexi-Hex boxes!
"Breakages are unheard of and our customers are happy in the knowledge that their rum will arrive safely in environmentally friendly packaging that doesn’t cost the earth!"
As the first British B Corp™ rum, what are you most proud of?
Sustainability is at the very core of our business - we have always been driven by purpose and it dictates everything that we do. As the UK's first (and happily now not the only) B Corp certified rum we lead by example, showing that it is possible to balance purpose as well as profit, and we use this position to become thought leaders within the spirits industry. With many other spirits brands also joining the movement, it is fantastic that we are leaders in that space and are able to share our knowledge and experience of the B Corp journey and what it represents. The decision to become a B Corp was easy for us as the criteria on which we were measured against already reflected who we were as a company and the values that we hold dear; although it did, and still does, push us to look at how we can be better every day and shows us that there is always headroom to improve.
Throughout my life I have endeavoured to follow my family values of honour, integrity, loyalty and trust, and this has certainly been applied to how Hattiers Rum operates. The team and I keep these values tucked firmly in our breast pockets and this is what drives the business every day above all else. I think this is what we’re most proud of and the fact that it has paved the way for the development and growth of our business shows that operating transparently and sustainably is in fact good for not only the business, but also the planet.
Any future plans you’d like to share with us?
It is an incredibly exciting time for all of us here at Hattiers, we have some exciting projects ahead of us and as we sustain the exponential growth that we have experienced since launch, we look forward to welcoming new members of the team in the coming months.
Our New Product Development pipeline is rich with exciting and exceptional releases in addition to our award-winning range of blended aged rums and our future limited cask releases along with exclusive bottlings for some of the UK’s most prestigious retailers are forecasted to sell out within weeks of launch. Keep an eye on our online shop and socials for announcements and new releases over the coming months!
And finally, please can you share your favourite Hattiers cocktailS!
Our first port of call is always a Daiquiri as the quality and flavour of our aged white rum will shine through in this classic cocktail. It’s super easy to make and hits that spot at any time of the year. See recipe here.
Another firm favourite of ours is the Breakfast Old Fashioned. The Old Fashioned is a classic cocktail often associated with whisky, however it is the perfect vehicle to let quality rum shine through. This fun twist on tradition is sure to impress your guests at any time of day. See recipe here.
Finally, and this is possibly the best and most simple serve of all… neat! Each rum from Hattiers is designed to be sipped neat (yes, even the white rum!) and there is nothing better than sitting down at the end of a busy day with a Hattiers either neat or on ice to settle you down for the evening. Buy online here.