Our objective at International Distilleries has always been to work with skilled and experienced people in different markets to produce unique small batch spirits. This month we have started a new journey into the world of Rum working in collaboration with experienced local distillers and producers in Madeira and Portugal.

Madeira has a long historical relationship to Rum through its main ingredient, Sugar Cane. In 1466 it was in Madeira that the foundations of cane and sugar production technologies were laid and those processes are still in use today.

As the cane growth increased, Madeira as with many other sugar producing islands, started to develop Rum. Initially, this was mainly used to fortify Madeira wine: it helped stabilise and age the wine. It was not until the 16th century that it developed into a drink in its own right and this lasted up until the 1930s, when Rum production declined and the market became dominated by rum from the West Indies.

Madeira has its own Rum cocktail, ‘The Poncha’ which it is said was developed from historical exchanges between Portugal, the UK and India. According to some historians, it is originally from India where it is known as Panch which translated literally means five ingredients : rum, lemon juice, sugar, spice and tea – and water. In Madeira, the traditional version is made from a measure of rum, two tea spoons of honey and a measure of lemon juice.

Using the experience of Rum production methods from Madeira, we were keen to maintain our connection between our brands and we wanted to create a more unique Rum flavour. Having used Port wine grapes as the base for our Gin, we decided to age our Rum in Port Wine barrels.

Following a recent bottling of their 30 year old vintage port, we purchased the barrels from our partners to utilise that rich port wine flavour and caramel in the cork to give our Rum its distinct colour and flavour.

The Rum will age in the barrels for a minimum of 2 years before we make our first bottling but we will make regular tasting during that time to ensure it is developing in line with our desired flavour profile.