Who’d have thunk it?! We now have 300 amps of 3 phase power, a fully wired (although not yet commissioned) Distillery building, and a drive and footpath reconstructed and looking as good as new! Bloody Nora, we’re inching our way closer and closer to this actually happening!
So, what have we actually done in the last few weeks since the last update? Well, its all a bit of a blur to be honest, and that is only slightly down to the second double rum on the rocks that I’m currently sipping. Off the top of my head, building-wise:
I’ve taken a stihl saw to the outside of the house, chopping a whopping great hole in the brickwork to accommodate the new meter box (don’t worry, there was already a sufficiently sized lintel in place)
Built and installed some kitchen units, and plumbed in the water supply and waste
Run conduit to all of the locations needing power in preparation for the electrician’s arrival
Painted the distillery floor white – which looks great but will almost certainly look horrific the second anyone wears anything other than carpet slippers in the distillery!
Painted walls and ceilings to freshen the place up a tad – helped by my father in law (who I’m blaming for any areas of poor cutting in)
Finished plumbing in the still coolant lines
Finished wiring up the control box and auxiliary panels
Plumbed in the fermentation vessel – we’re going to recirculate the wash as it ferments in order to keep the yeast suspended in the wash as much as possible and also to act as temperature control for the vessel as it is not jacketed. The wash will pass through a heat exchanger which will cool/heat the wash as required to keep us in our chosen yeasts sweet spot. As I’ve designed this system from the ground up it’s been quite laborious as I’ve changed the design 5 times and had to wait for parts between each change in design.
Leak tested the fermenter - fortunately no major leaks other than a compression joint that i hadn't sufficiently tightened up.
This now brings us to the point whereby we now have a pretty much fully functional micro-distillery……. In our garden………. In Coalville…….. Standard.
All of this means that this blog is now going to change from a “building a distillery” blog, to a “let’s make some fucking rum” blog!
Progress over the last few weeks has been more process related really than construction as we are getting tantalisingly close on that front. We’ve managed to make some good headway on processes over the last few weeks. Lauren is making some really good progress building our social media presence, and I can only assume that if you’re reading this its because she has managed to catch your eye on Instagram or Facebook – thanks for the follows, likes and messages along the way – some of which have been amazing and really driven us forward!
I’ve been making some test washes to bottom our target yields from and ABV point of view. This has always been a bit of a grey area for us as we wanted to make our rum as Leicestershire as we possibly could which always meant using local wild yeasts and other microbiota, (as to the best of our knowledge rum has never been made in this neck of the woods, in this way). We didn’t actually know whether some of the bacteria we were isolating were going to negatively affect other areas of the wash – namely the yeasts ability to actually produce alcohol. The real risk was that the local Leicestershire bacteria battered the yeast and killed the whole project! Fortunately, this doesn’t seem to have been the case, and our test washes progressed as planned from a treacly concoction into a wash that we hope, once distilled would give some real character.
In order to get our test wash sorted though, we’ve had to propagate some of the local bacteria, as well as some artificially introduced ones, which has all been carried out in our repurposed mash tun, which is now a temperature-controlled vessel harbouring 100l of Leicestershire’s finest! For the first time in the 13 years since I left school, that A Level in biology has come very much in handy – Thanks Mr Whittingham!
Away from the rum itself, we’re battling our way through the branding of not only our initial products, but also planning how future products will fit into the range. As a business, we’re a snot nosed start-up, so our brand identity is going to be massively important to getting our rum noticed. With that in mind we have found 3 companies capable of delivering on our vision for our bottles, all of varying costs and locations, although our plan is to keep as much of the procurement in the UK as we can – fortunately the two best prices and best bottles are from UK companies, and now we also have a preferred supplier for getting the bottles branded, which we’re amazingly pleased to say is from a company down the road in Leicester. The biggest challenge here is to make sure that we have both bottles and branding in place for when we’re ready to start bottling – which we need to start cracking on with as we are booked in at a couple of Christmas markets, and should probably take some rum with us to sell!!
Check out our new “events” page on the website for an update on which fairs we’re going to – if you can, pop along and say hi to us, and give Gino a scratch behind the ear!
It’s happening! Let’s make some bloody Rum!