Scotland is proving to be as good at making other spirits as it is at making whisky. Those centuries of distilling experience have not gone to waste. There are world-class gins like Caorunn, award-winning vodkas like Arbikie, and now with Dark Matter we have Scotland’s first purpose-built rum distillery.
And, of course, they’ve hit the ground running and are already winning awards – a Gold Medal in the 2016 Global Rum Masters, to be precise. You have to be impressed.
I was even more impressed when I received a tasting sample and took the top off. I was trying not to think of how closely it resembled a specimen jar, but instead focussed on the wonderfully aromatic thick scent that wafted out and belted you in the nose. It was quite something. It’s slightly sweet and subtly spicy, making me think of fine Cognacs and smooth whiskies, though it is undeniably rum.
In the mouth it is full and rounded, and has a creamy feel with, to me, a peppery taste. At the back of the mouth there’s a really strong taste of ginger too. You can also get the sweet notes of the molasses that this Scottish rum is made from.
It’s made in Banchory in Aberdeenshire, not too far from the heart of whisky country, Speyside. The people behind it are two brothers, Jim and John Ewen. On a holiday in the Dominican Republic back in 2011, Jim called three rum distillers and asked if he could pay a visit. The response he got made him think it would be easier to build your own distillery than get inside one of these.
Then Jim thought again… hmm, that’s maybe not a bad idea. He put it to his brother John, who also thought it was a good idea. Scotland’s first rum distillery. Why not? They began building it in May 2014, started production about a year later, and then won their first award in 2016.
Scottish Rum Cocktails
The recommended pairing for Dark Matter is a simple mix with ginger beer or ginger ale, and a slice of lime. I’ll have to take their word for it as my tasting sample is being drunk neat, to savour that flavour, and that’s that.
You can be a bit more adventurous, though, and Dark Matter got Andy Stewart, head bartender at The Tippling House in Aberdeen, to create this cocktail for them:
Created by Andy Stewart, head bartender, The Tippling House, Aberdeen
35ml Dark Matter
Chilli-spiked agave nectar
2 sprigs of rosemary
1 dash Whisky barrel bitters
Shake all ingredients and single strain into a julep tin, fill 3/4 with crushed ice and churn, top with crushed ice. Garnish with a sprig of toasted rosemary and two slices of chilli.
And the result looks like this:
Dark Matter is 40%ABV and more information is on the Dark Matter Distillers website.
In the UK you can also buy this Scottish spiced rum on Amazon