There are a few daring distillers in the UK who are resisting the lure of easy gin money, and are turning instead to spirits made from molasses. But why rum, and why are there so many in Scotland? We spoke to Zander Macgregor, co-founder of Glasgow-based Wester Spirit Co, which launched last year with a spiced rum distilled at Strathearn Distillery.
‘There’s way more freedom within the rum category,’ says Macgregor. ‘You’re limited with what you can do with Scotch whisky. We’re interested in pushing the boundaries of what can be done with distilling in Scotland. There’s potential to collaborate with whisky guys and do some interesting things, like ageing in former peated-whisky casks. We’re looking forward to testing that out and seeing what flavours you’d get.’
Those experiments are likely to begin in earnest when Wester’s own distillery in the west end of Glasgow is completed shortly. But in the meantime the company has collaborated with Drygate Brewery to create a spiced ale brewed with fruit soaked in Wester’s spiced rum.
‘We’re looking to do the return leg with Drygate too, and take that beer and distil it, to create a new-make spirit,’ Macgregor adds.
‘Everyone’s expecting rum to go the same way as gin, and the category is definitely improving, with people getting more interested, and bartenders using it more,’ he says. ‘But gin has gone mental – I’m not sure rum will do the same. I’m hoping it’ll do it in a more sustainable way. We’re in it for the long run.’