An Interview with Matt Perkins – Thameside Rum Company

An Interview with Matt Perkins Thameside Rum Company by the fat rum pirate An Interview with Matt Perkins – Thameside Rum Company. It can be very difficult as a Rum Reviewer to try and keep up with all the new rum releases.

Although, for obvious reasons the UK is not exactly a hotbed of rum production (though in fairness it has increased a fair bit over the past few years) it is a country which has a very long standing relationship with rum. We are currently only too aware of our not so proud history and relationship with our colonies and their inhabitants.

Even though the British Empire as it once was, is now mostly a relic of the past, a huge amount of Rum is still imported and aged here in the UK. Blends of Navy Style rum, mostly at the cheaper end of the spectrum are hugely popular in the UK. Brands such as Lamb’s and Wood’s remain hugely popular supermarket staples across the UK. In Northern England and Scotland Demerara rums such as OVD and Watson’s are also big sellers satisfying the demand for rich dark Navy Style rum to be mixed with cola. Many olders drinkers enjoy a Rum and Pep (Rum and Peppermint Cordial) and a Rum and Black (Rum and Blackcurrant Cordial)

Thameside Rum Company produce a slightly more upmarket and more premium take on the signature Navy or London Dock style of rum. Their aged blend of rums hails from Jamaica, Barbados and Guyana. I reviewed it late last year.

I was suitably impressed, so I thought I would invite the founder of Thameside Rum Company Matt Perkins to answer a few questions during Lockdown.

So here is Matt’s story

Thameside Signature Blend Premium Caribbean Rum Review1. Firstly please give a brief introduction on yourself and your role in the rum world. 

Matt Perkins, Founder & Managing Director at the Thameside Rum Company, a newly launched UK based rum brand. Our rums are inspired by the traditional English style Caribbean rums that were imported, blended & stored along the Thames dating back to the 18th Century.

Our aim is to champion authentic Caribbean rum. We pride ourselves on only working with the most reputable distilleries in the Caribbean, in order to support the future of traditional authentic rum production.

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 fledgling Rum brand and what have you done to try and minimise the impact?

After launching towards the back end of 2019 our main focus for 2020 was to gain traction in the on-trade by getting our rum into the hands of bartenders. We also wanted to attend events and tastings, in order to raise brand awareness and get people tasting our product. Covid-19 has meant that on-trade orders have all but fallen off a cliff and all events have been cancelled. Which has impacted sales and slowed our projected growth substantially. I’m also a one man band, currently juggling another full time job so it’s been incredibly tough to dedicate the time and effort to the brand to maintain the momentum we gathered at the start of the year.

To minimise the impact we’ve had to change our focus to the off-trade as well as try and drive direct B2C (Brand to Customer) sales through our website. We’ve been posting cocktail tutorials on our Social Media channels to encourage people to stay home and enjoy high quality easy to make cocktails at home using readily available ingredients.

Despite sales being impacted we’re fortunate that we’re still able to take and fulfil orders. Unlike the bars and restaurants who have been forced to shut and must be really struggling, especially the small independents. With this in mind we wanted to give something back to the hospitality industry. We decided to donate £9.30 (1 hours real living wage) for every bottle of rum sold through our website to Hospitality Action who are doing amazing things to support the industry and try to ensure that our favourite bars and restaurants will survive. This will equate to nearly 25% of our sales but we feel it’s necessary until this madness is over.

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

My very first experience of rum was in my youth drinking sickly-sweet spiced ‘rum’ and coke and the occasional badly made Mojito. In the ensuing years I was very much a gin and craft beer drinker, until my brother moved to the Caribbean. During a few trips out to visit I became exposed to real authentic Caribbean rum. It was a far cry from the mainstream rum that was available back in the UK, at that time. I quickly fell in love with this amazing spirit and became obsessed with how the different terroirs of the individual Caribbean islands would create truly unique rums and how barrel aging in the tropics would alter the flavour profile.

I would often wonder why, when I walked into a bar back in the UK, there would be 30 or so small-batch craft gins on offer and inevitably just two poor quality rums. It was from then on that I knew I wanted to be involved in rum in some way shape of form. In particular help champion and showcase these authentic rums back in the UK.

4. How do you think the Rum World has changed over the past 5 years? Where do you see the Rum World in another 5 years? Where would you like to be in 5 years?

The rum category has changed massively over the past 5 years, particularly in the UK. There are more and more good quality rums coming to the market. It’s also great to see more British brands launching and championing authentic rum. The general consumer is a lot more knowledgeable now. You can no longer get away with just sticking “rum” on the bottle and not expect to get questioned on its provenance, whether it’s molasses based, the fermentation and distillation methods, how long it’s been aged for and whether there’s any sugar or additives. Rum as a category is finally being taken seriously and long may that continue.

There’s still a long way to go in terms of increasing the transparency and educating the consumer about the difference between authentic rum and sweetened/flavoured/spiced rum and how this is communicated to the end consumer through clearer labelling. It’s definitely moving in the right direction.

I’d like to think in 5 years time there will be less emphasis on segmenting rum by colour. White/Gold/Dark is such a lazy way to segment a wonderfully diverse category and hopefully more emphasis will be placed on the raw material, distillation methods and age statements which will drive the ultimate value proposition.

Hydrometer Tests by the fat rum pirate5. What is your stance on additives in rum? Would you like to see more Universal Regulation?

My current stance is that too many producers are abusing the lack of universal regulation and in some instances adding huge amounts of sugar and colouring to poor-quality base spirits and marketing them as “premium rum”. I don’t have an issue with the additives per se as long as it’s clearly labelled and made transparent to the consumer that the rum has been adulterated post distillation/maturation. It’s then down to the consumer to decide whether the product represents value for money.

I do believe there is a place for Spiced/Flavoured rums and there’s clearly a demand for them given the growth witnessed in this segment in recent years. But again there’s still a lot more to do in terms of regulation and labelling guidance to ensure the consumer has full visibility on what has been added and at what stage in the process, and ideally still have some information on how the base spirit was produced.

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

I have been following the GI proposals a little and in my mind the proposals make sense and I agree that all the steps taken to produce the rum should be carried out in the country stated on the bottle. If a crucial stage of the process is carried out in another country it should no longer be labelled as true Barbados rum, for example.

I do however understand that drafting such proposals is incredibly complicated and any proposed guidelines must be thought out carefully as to not hinder future innovation in the category or avoid handcuffing producers to methods that may not be sustainable.

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

We regularly post on our Facebook and Instagram pages to keep our followers up to date. I also try to engage as much as possible with other rum forums to stay updated with new releases and developments in the category.

8. Which rum producers are your current favourites?

Foursquare, Worthy Park, Hampden Estate, Diamond Distillers

DIablesse Caribbean Rum review by the fat rum pirate9. 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

Streamertail, Ninefold, Diablesse

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

A well made Daiquiri

50ml of our Thameside Signature Blend

25ml lime juice

25ml sugar syrup

Shaken over ice and strained into a well chilled glass…heaven!

So there you have it. I can vouch for how tasty that Daiquiri is as well, having made a couple myself. I agree with a lot of what Matt has said in this interview (pretty much all of it to be fair!) and he has created a really great brand and a very good blended rum. He’s clearly done his homework on rum as well, which if often not the case with some brands. Some seem to think they do as they please to make a quick buck.

An Interview with Matt Perkins Thameside Rum Company by the fat rum pirate




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