“To put it simply, we’ve run out of space.”
Standing in the centre of the J. Gow Rum distillery, it’s hard to disagree with founder and head distiller, Collin Van Schayk.
The production area here is being increasingly encroached upon by casks as demand for this popular range of Orkney rums continues to grow; the distillery is selling out of its core range releases each year before the next one is ready. Despite the challenge that presents, it’s not a bad problem to have. Far from it.
“The response to our rums has been really great and we seem to build on it every year,” says Collin. “Last year was our biggest yet, winning six awards and being featured in a rum advent calendar, which was sold worldwide. Our first wild yeast release sold out in just a few hours too.”
Named after the infamous Orcadian pirate, the J. Gow Rum range includes Spiced Rum, Fading Light, a chestnut cask aged rum, and Revenge, which has been aged in bourbon and virgin oak casks. The latest release, Culverin, is a clear, unaged pure single rum.
To help solve the lack of space at the distillery, Collin has decided to build more of it. An extension on the seaward side of its Lamb Holm base will double its footprint, increasing the amount of cask storage five-fold whilst also separating the production and storage space. When complete, the building work will allow the team to double the number of casks they lay down each year and provide storage space for around 500.
2023 marks six years since J. Gow Rum starting distilling and the addition of the annex is just the latest step forward. “It’s crazy to think how fast time has gone,” says Collin. “It has been quite a challenge, starting initially with one only product as we waited for the rum to mature, and then being faced with the pandemic. Our wholesale business disappeared overnight but we were able to increase our online sales which kept us going.”
In just a few years the distillery’s first eight-year-old rums will be available, and in spring a second wild yeast rum will be released, with plans for its first double cask aged rum towards the end of 2023 too.
Despite more challenges on the horizon, including Scotland’s deposit return scheme and the current alcohol advertising consultation, which the distillery is working together with other local producers to plot a path through, the future remains bright for J. Gow Rum.
“It’s a really exciting time for us now. We have an established core range of products so we can definitely experiment a bit more,” says Collin. “With our casked stock continuing to mature we can play around with unusual casks, more wild yeasts, that kind of thing.
"We’re just looking forward to getting the annex up and running and seeing where we go from there.”
Find out more and order online via the official J. Gow Rum website.