Celebrating Northern Soul: The Story Of God’s Own Rum

The rum revolution is alive and well in the UK and there’s lots of craft distilleries putting their own stamp on the category. One of the most exciting is God’s Own Rum, a brand with Northern soul and detailed distilling techniques.

The Rum Ration caught up with co-founders Campbell and Joe on the story behind God’s Own Rum and where they are taking the brand in the future.

What inspired you to start producing rum in the first place?

Campbell: Joe was the catalyst to it all because he’s been interested in home brewing and winemaking for over a decade. We met each other in South Milford and I had a curiosity around what he was doing and we had a lot of conversations about how drinks have evolved through the years.

We’d both been through the vodka revolution and the gin revolution. But we knew that rum really hadn’t been given a proper spotlight and we wanted to emphasise its versatility.

So, we talked each other into buying a little still and for two years we’ve been developing and market testing our products. Over this time we’ve become more intuitive about how our distillation processes worked and we haven’t looked back since.

How would you differentiate God’s Own Rum from other rum brands?

Joe: What we wanted to create was a fusion of old and new to provide new meaning in the rum category. It was tapping into the local Yorkshire community, that story and combining it with modern distilling techniques.

Being small scale we had the ability to play around and experiment. We have a lot more versatility than some brands who’re reliant upon segments of time in the bigger distilleries. We’ve also trademarked our name and placed it as THE Yorkshire rum so that’s given us some leverage over competitors.

We also wanted to get away from the image of pirates and palm trees. These images have been around for a long time and we wanted to create a more mature-looking rum instead of jumping on the sea creatures band wagon. It was about tapping into the idea of premium rum.

Another USP is the way we produce. You have very few British distilleries that do the distilling of the molasses from scratch. There’s a lot of UK-based rum brands that just import and re label.

We distil our product at the beginning and for every 25 litres we put into the still, we only take 20 back out. We’re getting rid of the meh quality alcohol so we can start from the base product and build back up to the best quality.

On that note, what does premium mean to you in the spirits category?

Joe: I think you’ve got to start with premium quality. The spirit itself and how it’s produced. You can’t build up a flavour profile if it’s got a crap foundation. There’s also the fact it’s hand-crafted and not produced with mass market processes.

It’s also about packaging. Choosing the bottle, making it stand out and not cutting costs or corners.

Campbell: To me, it’s class outside and class inside. What we’re looking at is the full package from the consumer’s point of view. Being premium is about not screwing the shit out of the distillation process and putting all the crap in.

You have to factor in the cost of what you put into your product.

Where do you see the rum category going in the next 10 years and how do you think God’s Own Rum fits in?

Campbell: The buzzword of the day is premiumisation and that is affecting the industry and different vendors from a growth perspective. The expectation is that the eCommerce side of rum will grow and people will have access to more products from different parts of the world.

For us, we’re focused on getting to the next level and scaling our operations so we can continue to promote the idea of premium rum.

Joe: What’s interesting to me is that the UK is different to the rest of the world with spirits. We had this huge gin boom that never went away. The growth of different spirits has stayed strong in other countries, but the UK gin boom was an anomaly.

This is encouraging because nothing lasts forever and people always turn to different drinks. The rum category is expanding in the UK with the traditional Caribbean stuff and more craft distilleries.

Gods Own Rum has been featured on The Hairy Biker’s Experience. How did that collaboration happen?

Campbell: It started with an email from South Shore productions, the production team for the Biker’s tour. I think it fitted with what they wanted to achieve and from our side it was a great marketing opportunity.

We agreed that the episode would be filmed for Christmas.

Joe: It was an amazing experience and Dave and Simon are good solid blokes. Exactly like they are on the telly. We were prepared to give them a couple of bottles of rum and Simon and Dave bought a lot of our stuff.

It surprised us and Campbell said to Simon something like ‘oh, do you always buy something from everywhere you go?’  And he was like, ‘Mate, I’m Northern. I’ll only pay for the good stuff.’

That kind of backhanded compliment was a big moment for us.

Are you bringing out any new releases this year or focusing on your core offering?

Joe: We’ve got our white label idea where we have space to handwrite information and do small batch rum. Another idea is creating more engagement with our customers through running competitions and suggesting flavours to try.

There’s also the idea of doing bespoke batches for different people. For example, we work closely with people in the Sikh community and we can produce batches for big weddings.

Campbell: We’re also moving into a seasonality theme and building this around our four core products. Because we’re a micro distillery we can quickly turn our hand to different experiences.

Be sure to browse the God’s Own Rum range and reserve your bottle today.

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