An Interview with Kit Carruthers – Ninefold Distillery

An Interview with Kit Carruthers - Ninefold Distillery by the fat rum pirateAn Interview with Kit Carruthers – Ninefold Distillery.

The Ninefold Distillery has only been active for just over a year. I have gotten to know Kit over the past year or so, through other Scottish Rum Producers such as Ross Bradley (Sugar House Rum) and Collin Van Schayk (J. Gow Rum).

Between them they are producing some of the best “home grown” rum in the British Isles. I have reviewed rum from all three of the above brands. I would heartily recommend reading over my reviews and perhaps picking up a bottle or two to try.

As you will read Kit has a rather unique background and a quite unconventional route in to rum. Even prior to meeting Kit he sent samples out to a couple of us UK based rum enthusiasts with rather obscene names and asked us if we had tried “his….****”.

1. Please give a brief introduction on yourself and your role in the rum world.

I am the owner and distiller at Ninefold Distillery, a micro rum distillery in Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland. I make rum from scratch, using imported sugar cane molasses, so that means the fermentation, distillation, maturation and bottling are all done on site. Before I began distilling in 2019, I had no previous experience in the industry; I came from a background of geotechnical work and climate change research.

2. Obviously, COVID-19 has been devastating to the hospitality industry, we cannot avoid this fact, it has had a huge impact on us all. How damaging has it been to your business and what have you done to try and minimise this?

Being a very new business, trading only since July 2019, I was in some ways lucky enough not have built a large on-trade presence, so this side of the business is largely unaffected. I have been building relationships in the on-trade though, so on a personal level, it’s very difficult to see what’s happening and I’m extremely worried for the future of many on-trade businesses, that I love and respect out there.

Where I’ve been hit the hardest has been the inability to attend events. As a small business, the face-to-face/meet the maker interactions with the public are crucial to building brand awareness and loyalty, as well as being the most profitable side of the business. Thankfully I’ve been able to secure a temporary license to sell directly to the public from the distillery, so this has helped mitigate the income loss somewhat. And I’ve been trying to do online live events to reach out to potential customers, and maintain relationships with my existing customers.

To do my bit for the cause £1 of every bottle I sell through my website goes to Refuge, a charity for victims of domestic abuse, for the duration of the effective lockdown period. (Kit is being a bit coy about his charitable efforts here but all will be revealed at the end of this interview)

 

3. What first attracted you to the Rum World? What were your first experiences with rum?

I’ve never been much of a drinker, and definitely not spirits. Rum was, largely, an unknown to me, apart from the bottle of Appleton Estate V/X I brought back from Jamaica in 2004. That bottle, however, sat for years with barely a taste out of it; I just wasn’t that taken with it, and never sought to explore the broader category. So when I set up my rum distillery, it was at the time simply a business decision, based off the of the gin market and the potential to diversify the income of our family estate here in Dumfriesshire.

However, cynical a decision that was to begin with, I quickly developed an appreciation for the spirit. There’s no way that I could have made my own rum if I didn’t appreciate the category as a whole. My goal, from very early on in the distillery, was to make rum authentically and honestly and that’s the overriding philosophy behind my brand.

4. How do you think the Rum World has changed over the paAn Interview with Kit Carruthers - Ninefold Distillery by the fat rum piratest 5 years? Where do you see the Rum World in another 5 years? Where would you like to be in 5 years?

As I’ve said, my knowledge of rum is very recent. And I largely focus my attentions on my direct competition, so other Scottish and British rums. In just the last 3 years, we have gone from a single Scottish rum brand, to at least 15.

There’s been a very large upturn in new brands, myself included of course. Unfortunately some of these brands are less than authentic or honest about their products, and it leads to a muddying of the waters with consumers. I hope that in the next 5 years, the industry as a whole improves its transparency and honesty with consumers.

In Scotland, we’re already trying to make inroads to educating consumers on what is, and isn’t, authentic Scottish rum to enable them to understand different styles of rum based on production methods, and ultimately to help them make more educated buying decisions.

5. What is your stance on additives in rum? Would you like to see more Universal Regulation?

Personally, I don’t have a problem if producers want to put additives in rum. But the caveat is that their products must be labelled as having been adulterated, and that ‘rum’ must be dropped from the label. I’m vehemently against producers trying to hoodwink consumers into thinking they’re buying rum, when in fact they’re buying a flavoured neutral spirit.

6. Speaking of rules and regulations what is your opinion on the current issues over the Barbados/Jamaica rum GI proposals?

I don’t follow this closely, and I don’t hold much of an opinion on it. Generally, though, I don’t see why G.I.’s need amending. Unless there’s a significant majority of producers clamouring for change, I would be suspicious as to the real reasons behind any lobbying for change from a single producer.

7. How do you view your role within the Rum World? What do you hope to “bring” to the rum community? Do you reach out beyond your day job in rum?

I’m here to make the best rum I can, while making a living of course, and be as honest and transparent as possible about my process.

7. Do you actively use Social Media to reach out with other Rum Drinkers and Enthusiasts? If so where might we find you?

Aside from posting on my distillery social media Facebook, Twitter, Instagram,I try and engage in othe

r UK rum groups on Facebook. But running your own distillery doesn’t afford you much time for that, so I probably don’t engage as much as I’d like.

8. Which rum producers are your current favourites?

I don’t think I drink enough to have tried enough rums and develop a favourite brand. My current favourite on the shelf is the bottle of Hampden Estate 46%.

9. Which rum producers/brands do you think are currently flying under the radar? Name 3 rums people may not have tried but really should give a go

I try and beat the drum for other Scottish rum producers like Sugar House, J. Gow, and Matugga. They’re all wee brands, like myself, and now more than ever could do with as much support as possible.

10. Finally, what is your idea of the perfect rum and/or rum drink/cocktail?

Give me a well made daiquiri any day!

So there you have it some refreshingly honest answers from Kit. Clearly though he is driven to make the best rum he can and without additives. Which is also a plus point here at thefatrumpirate.com

Kit has also just opened up a competition to win some free rum, a distillery tour and a ride in a VW Beetle (Did we mention unconventional earlier?)

Kit has also just revealed an opportunity to buy bottles of the first Cask Aged Rum from Ninefold Distillery with ALL proceeds going to two local charities.

An Interview with Kit Carruthers - Ninefold Distillery by the fat rum pirate

 

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