“Good company, good wine, good welcome can make good people.” So says William Shakespeare in Henry VIII Act 1 Scene 4. And he wasn’t jesting. Ann Evans has news of the launch of a brand-new white rum.
Most of William Shakespeare’s jesters enjoyed a little tipple or two, so its most appropriate that the Shakespeare Distillery in Stratford-upon-Avon has launched a new and unique White Rum named ‘Jester’ to accompany their portfolio of handcrafted premium products. And on Saturday 17th April, celebrating the launch, were co-founder and Director of the distillery, Peter Monks, mixologist Sam Evans with some jovial fun from Jester alias Stilt Man.
Shakespeare Distillery – an independent artisan spirit producer, has successfully been distilling Gin for the last five years on their own premises. Peter explained that the idea came about after deciding he and co-founder Simon Picken wanted to create something that would stand the tests of time.
“In 2015 gin was just starting to increase in popularity,” said Peter. “And with living in Stratford we wanted to tie our products in with the locality. We were really inspired by Mary Arden’s farm and the Tudor botanicals still grown there. Herbs such as old English lovage, rosemary and lemon balm, all of which and more go into our gins.
“Our new Jester White Rum has been our lockdown project. Also, in December we opened our new shop, The Shakespeare Distillery in the High Street. It’s very appropriate as William Shakespeare’s daughter, Judith lived here with her husband, Thomas Quiney, a wine merchant. So, it’s come full circle really.” Intriguingly, Peter added that the ghost of Judith is said to haunt the building!
The name ‘Jester’ is taken from the famous sculpture of a Jester which sits in Henley Street, just yards from Shakespeare’s Birthplace. Almost all of Shakespeare’s jesters were fond drinkers, and known to be bold, memorable, and popular characters – the ideal traits for a new British-made spirit.
He went on to explain that most of the rum on sale in the UK has in fact been imported. Distilling rum requires patience, experience, and a palette for perfection which is why many British rum distillers choose to import their base spirit before spicing it themselves. Shakespeare Distillery are one of only a handful of distilleries in the UK to create their rum in its entirety onsite.
The big misconception with rum is that it is assumed that the alcohol and flavour are both created during the distillation process – this is not the case! Gin gets it flavour from being distilled with botanicals whereas rum’s unique flavour and alcohol comes from fermentation.
By importing their base rum, a distillery will have no control over the flavour of the fermentation. Shakespeare Distillery’s own fermentation is a 7-day process in which the unique combination of yeast, water and sugar creates both flavour and alcohol, bubbling away slowly in ‘Titania’, their new aptly named fermenter.
Mixologist, Sam Evans, explained how they ferment sugar cane molasses to craft the base, so producing a superior and more characterful flavoured rum. The rum is then distilled twice producing a final bottled white rum of 40 per cent ABV. The rum combines tropical fruits with a hint of citrus and buttery smooth molasses which make for a rich, yet mildly sweet finish. The rum can be enjoyed sipping neat or alternatively as a rum cocktail. Sampling it as a daiquiri – simply with lime and sugar, it was indeed delicious!
Peter added, “Having established our business five years ago, our Gins have gone from strength to strength. We are passionate about experimenting with quality spirits and wanted to create a new spirit that was different and bold. We are delighted to launch our first brand of premium, handcrafted White Rum and I am so proud of the entire team, who have worked hard during a year of lockdowns, to produce this truly delicious Warwickshire made Rum. We’re very much looking forward to our loyal customers getting to taste it and I know they won’t be disappointed!”
Shakespeare Distillery will also be launching a spiced Rum in mid-May and have begun aging Rum in barrels for release at a later date. The distillery aims to establish themselves as a producer of UK Rum, both own brand and white labelled over the next 3 years.
This product release received grant support provided by Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) and was part financed by the European Regional Development Fund as part of the Coventry City Council Business Support Programme. Investment was also provided from Warwickshire County Council’s Adapt and Diversify Fund.
The range of award-winning gins are available to buy in many local wine and spirit outlets, bars, restaurants, and hotels, with a fast-growing range of stockists. The rum is available in three bottle options and is priced at £34 for a 50cl bottle, £17.50 for a 20cl bottle and £6 for 5cl bottle. These can be purchased online or from the distillery shop for click and collect and customer visits. Free delivery is offered within the UK on all orders over £35. Purchases can also be made at Shakespeare Distillery’s own Stratford town centre shop at No 1 High Street.
The company also offers distillery tours to discover how gin is made as well as offering a gin school, shop, seasonal gin tasting river cruises and cocktail masterclasses. In February 2020, the company won the New Tourism Business Award in the West Midlands Tourism Awards for their destination distillery experiences.
For more information about Shakespeare Distillery please visit: http://www.shakespearedistillery.com/