Diversifying into rum
SLE member Jamie Carruthers of Dormont Estate, Lockerbie, has been future proofing the estate business for many years through work to improve the energy efficiency of rented homes on the estate and the construction in 2011 of eight new homes to the highest environmental standards. But this work took on a new dimension when Jamie’s son, Dr Kit Carruthers, converted two of the redundant steading buildings at Dormont Home Farm into a micro rum distillery. The culmination of two years of research and development work to convert two old cattle byres into a distillery and bond has resulted in the production of the South of Scotland’s first craft rum.
After nearly a year in obtaining planning permission and building warrant for change of use from farm building to distillery, building work started in February 2018 just before the ‘Beast from the East’ arrived. Work finished in October 2018, ready for the installation of the distillery equipment, which was part financed by the Scottish Government and the European Union LEADER 2014-2020 programme. The 500 litre copper pot still and related columns and tanks were hand-fabricated by Speyside Copper Works and LH Stainless in Scotland, and installed in December 2018. By March 2019, all licences were in place to begin production.
The distillery makes rum from scratch by fermenting imported sugar cane molasses, and twice distilling to produce a white rum ready for immediate bottling. The process of fermentation to bottling takes around two weeks, and the bottling and labelling is also carried out on site by Kit. The white rum is aimed at the burgeoning cocktail market, being a premium substitute in mojitos and daiquiris for well-known mass-produced brands. Jamie and Kit recently filled the distillery’s first four oak casks, and placed these into bond for future aged golden rum expressions. Although the business has only been trading for under three months its rum has already been shortlisted as a finalist for the Scotsman Food & Drink Awards 2019 in the Most Innovative New Product category.