If you’ve had a good nosey around the Bristol and Bath Rum Distillery on Park Street you’ll have noticed that, as well as a sizable still, there’s an intriguing laboratory set-up upstairs – complete with comfy stools and the promise of cocktails.
This, friends, is Rum School.
Sessions see explorations into the world of rum, it’s history and the processes that make it. Then there’s the opportunity to make your very own bottle of the stuff.
Yep, using a base spirit and a huge selection of botanicals and ingredients, you’re able to create your very own spiced rum blend. Just like we did, on a recent visit.
First comes an introduction to rum from head distiller Ben Philpot. He explains how different producing nations have different styles of rum, which are entwined with their culture. We learn about rum runners, moonshine, bootlegging, piracy and Bristol’s chequered past with the facilitation of the sugar trade.
Like gin, spiced rum is often created from a premade base spirit. The magic happens in the blending of botanicals and spices – it’s the same infusion process as gin. We have a go at creating our own botanical blends with a good 40 jars of ingredients available at the school (handy sprays applied straight into the mouth give an idea of how the redistilled flavour would carry).
Under the guidance and supervision of Ben and his team, we decide on a blend. Then, our base rum and botanicals are heated, the evaporating vapour rising through the spout and then through a coil that cools it rapidly. The vapour then condenses back into liquid and drips into a beaker. Et voila!
Once the still has done its work, we check with a refractometer (or booze telescope) for alcohol level before adding distilled water to level it out at a more friendly 40% ABV. Our creation ‘C-rum-bs’ is then bottled and we apply our own wax seal. Not bad for a day’s work!
You can book a rum school session for £80, which includes a 70cl bottle of your own spiced rum, five rum cocktails, a guided spiced rum tasting session and a gift bag with mixers and a glass.