The first rum distillery in Central Scotland – Matugga Distillers – is preparing to start production at its new facility in Livingston.

The £100K distillery is equipped with two 200 litre copper pot stills, capable of producing 50,000 litres of artisanal rum in its first year; the equivalent of 2m single rum serves.

Over the next twelve months, the firm is forecasting a 400% increase in turnover and is hoping to create five new full time roles; including positions in distilling and business development.

Founded by husband and wife, Paul and Jacine Rutasikwa, Matugga Distillers promises an expansion of their award-winning Matugga Rum series of ‘golden and spiced rums crafted with African soul’.

Originally small batch distilled in England before moving production to Scotland, the rums draw inspiration from the couple’s Ugandan and Jamaican family heritage.

The company has been retailing its rum range since 2015 and is available to buy via retailers such as Masters of Malt, The Whisky Exchange and directly from the distillery’s online shop.

Matugga has a uniquely East African flavour profile; achieved using sugar cane molasses from the region and a masala chai blend of black tea, ginger, cloves, vanilla, cardamom and cinnamon.

The Rutasikwas began exploring Central Scotland when Paul – a chartered civil engineer by trade – started a Masters Degree in Brewing and Distilling at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh.

The family – which includes their two young daughters – relocated from London to Livingston in July 2017.

During this time, the firm has already celebrated export success following a listing with French distributor, Dugas. This allowed the company to ship about 10,000 bottles of rum to France and across the EU in the last year.

Master Distiller, Paul Rutasikwa, feels an affinity with Scotland’s distilling heritage: “Scotland has hundreds of years of distilling expertise and history.

“This, combined with my African heritage, is what will inspire us to create new and exciting rums. We can think of no better place to be launching our new distillery and beginning such an exciting journey.

“The ethos of Matugga Distillers is underpinned by the Swahili saying ‘pole pole’ (pronounced poleh poleh), which means ‘slowly slowly’. We want people to slow down, sip, savour and share our rums with friends and family.”

CEO, Jacine Rutasikwa, is looking forward to introducing Matugga rums to the Scottish market: “Building on the success we’ve had in Europe, the next year will see us focus on making friends and contacts in the on-trade and off-trade; while continuing to bring something different to the UK rum scene as a whole.

“The signature smokey aspect of our rums isn’t dissimilar to lightly peated whiskies; making them the perfect sipping spirit or a quality addition to popular cocktails, like an Old Fashioned.”

Matugga Golden Rum (42% ABV) and Matugga Spiced Rum (42% ABV) are currently available via the company’s website.

This isn’t the first rum to call Scotland home, with one of the country’s most industrious spirits producers, Strathearn Distillery creating what is probably the first Scottish golden rum for over 100 years.

And last year, Glasgow-based Wester Spirits launched a spiced rum. Entrepreneurs Zander Macgregor and Allan Nairn bucked the current trend across the country of distilling gin and whisky and followed in the footsteps of Dark Matter Distillers in Aberdeenshire by launching a new Scottish spiced rum.

About The Author

Rosalind Erskine

Known for cake making, experimental jam recipes, Champagne and gin drinking (and the inability to cook Gnocchi), Rosalind writes for The Scotsman on all things food and drink related.

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