• Rum barrels at J. Gow Rum, Orkney

UK first for Orkney rum distillery

A rum distillery based on an uninhabited island in Orkney is set to launch a UK first.

Orkney has long been famed for its fantastic food and drink, with products including beef, beer, cheese and whisky winning awards around the world.

Lately though, Orkney’s current crop of spirit makers have been hitting the headlines, with new distilleries opening their doors in the islands over recent years.

Now the latest innovative spirit to be launched locally will be a UK first – not to mention it’s made on a tiny, uninhabited island.

Lamb Holm in Orkney, home to J. Gow Rum and the Italian Chapel

Lamb Holm is found on the fringes of Scapa Flow and is linked to the Orkney mainland by the Churchill Barriers, giant concrete causeways constructed during the Second World War. It’s home to the famous Italian Chapel, and one of the few other buildings on the island houses the headquarters of J. Gow Rum.

Launched in 2017 and named after Orkney’s infamous pirate, John Gow, the distillery has quickly established its reputation, earning plaudits for its Spiced Rum and Fading Light, a chestnut cask-aged rum.

In October it will add Hidden Depths Volume 1 to its range, its first limited-edition single cask rum.

Hidden Depths Volume 1 will be launched in October

It’s the first ever three-year-old rum release in the UK, marking a real step forward for the business. The new spirit has been fermented, distilled and aged at the distillery and will be bottled at the end of September.

With a cask strength of 53.2%, the release will be limited to 250 bottles. This particular cask was laid down during the distillery’s first year of production and the oak cask used previously contained bere whisky, made with Orkney’s Viking grain, bere barley. The distillery’s sister company, Orkney Wine, used the cask first before it was rejuvenated by J. Gow’s head distiller, Collin Van Schayk.

Collin Van Schayk from J. Gow Rum

“We’re delighted to have finally reached this stage,” explained Collin. “Aged rums - particularly 8 and 12-year olds - have always been our main goal. Knowing this is the first of its kind in the UK makes this release even more exciting and we can’t wait to hear what people think.”

He describes the rum as rich, with the flavours of caramel, toffee and oak, backed by subtle liquorice. It also has chocolate orange notes on the palate with a slightly salted finish.

Hidden Depths Volume 1 is available for pre-order now from the J. Gow Rum website.

The Promoting Orkney project has been part financed by the Scottish Government and the European Community Orkney LEADER 2014-2020 Programme.

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