Old Salt Rum

"The first commercially produced rum distilled in the UK. Made by fermenting pure sugar cane molasses, with not a dash of sugar syrup in sight: very tricky to pull off but entirely worth it. We then triple distil the molasses to strip out the bits we don’t want, while grabbing the quintessential flavours of rum; raisins, cracked caramel, treacle, and a touch of banoffee pie; no salt added. Matured in English oak casks.


Serve neat, or with ginger beer, ice, and a chunk of lime. Also works well in a cajun sauce."


The original English rum.


First and foremost, it was the first rum to be distilled and marketed here in the UK (back in 2012) as opposed to an imported base rum. It remained England’s only golden rum for a very long time after that. It also picked up World’s Best Rum at the Hong Kong RumFest in 2014.


Not content to rest on those lofty accolades alone: it’s also extremely tasty. The fact that Old Salt Rum is distilled from 100% molasses is worthy of note, as this is very rare outside of the most premium Caribbean rums. Only aged for a few months, yet its smoothness and rich flavours are on par with rums aged for 10 years or more.


It’s also worth remembering that not only was Old Salt Rum the first to be distilled in the UK, released in 2012, but Dr John has been making rum ever since: for our English Spirit collection and for a variety of contract partners. He’s had a lot of practice, and a lot of still runs in which to refine the tricky art of making premium rums: which means that without a doubt, he is the most experienced rum distiller in the UK by quite a lengthy margin.


In short: you won’t find a rum like this anywhere else.


The rum is named after the site on which it was first distilled (and the birthplace of English rum): the Old Salt Depot, in the village of Dullingham in Cambridgeshire. The current home of English Rum is now at our Great Yeldham Hall distillery. This is where the ‘Salt' comes from - there’s no salt added!


One important thing to know about rum is that it’s really quite hard to make: and even harder to make a nice one. That’s why the most common supermarket brands are often not really rum at all: often labelled as ‘rum spirit drinks’ - no really, check the labels the next time you’re shopping. That’s also why until 2012, all rums sold in England were imported from elsewhere, usually the Caribbean. When Dr John was starting out, he couldn’t believe no-one had gone to the effort of distilling and marketing one here in the UK before. He also knew that if he was to be the first to do it then it should also be a really good rum: a rum to make England proud: and so the first batch of Old Salt Rum was born.

“This drift from molasses to cane sugar syrup has been driven entirely by the commercials of production: molasses is slow to ferment, the alcoholic yield is relatively low, but the taste can be superb. Cane sugar syrup is very quick to ferment and yield is high; but taste is well, lacking.”

- Dr John Walters,

'The Drinker's Guide to Distilling, Part 1'

People often ask where the font on the label comes from. It was a personal choice of Dr John, and is reminiscent of fonts from the Renaissance era. A time of discovery, during which rum was invented: and a perfect theme for the beginning of a new renaissance for rums in the UK, kicked off by the very first one to be distilled here in Blighty.


Pure sugar cane molasses - sourced from around the world. No salt added - and no sugar cane syrup either.


To legally call something a rum, it has to be made from a sugar cane byproduct: which either means molasses (the traditional way) or sugar cane syrup (which began use for commercial production in the 20th century). It’s much quicker and easier to use sugar cane syrup to make rum; which is why most distilleries do: using pure molasses is uncompromising, but utterly worth it for the end result.


We go to great pains to ferment the molasses ourselves - which takes an average of 14 days, but depending on temperature it can take over three weeks. As we’re sure you’ve noticed, we don’t benefit from a tropical climate here in the UK!

We then take the molasses wash and distil it three times in our copper pot stills. Approximately 200 litres of molasses ends up as 20 litres of rum: that’s how much we throw away to perfect the spirit and strip out the bad stuff. Very low yield and much more fiddly than how rum is commonly made: but entirely worth it.

We then finish the rum for a few months in English oak barrels. This adds its own flavour notes to the spirit and gives it a lovely golden colour. Unlike most premium rums, we don’t rely on the barrel to do the essential bit of adding flavour and removing the bad bits of the spirit for us: Dr John’s distilling expertise means we get that right the first time round.


Dr John puts it best: “The unavoidable notes from an alembic distilled molasses rum are raisins and Christmas cake. Then depending on the ester profile, perhaps banana and banoffee pie, cracked caramel and of course a dark treacle finish.” Are you thirsty yet?


We generally prefer our Old Salt Rum neat, or served with ice. You can add ginger beer and a lime wedge to make a Dark ‘n’ Stormy - a lovely classic rum cocktail that is strictly speaking meant to be made with Gosling’s rum, but we think you’ll prefer ours. On top of that, any cocktail that calls for a golden rum will benefit greatly from including an unusually rich and smooth one like this one.