Sir Ranulph Fiennes’ Great British Rum

Sir Ranulph Fiennes' Great British Rum Review by the fat rum pirateSir Ranulph Fiennes’ Great British Rum. Depending on your age and interests you may be more familiar with actor Ralph Fiennes – Ranulph and Ralph are cousins. Ralph is also a distant cousin of Prince Charles.

Sir Ranulph Fiennes is a World Famous British explorer and holder of several endurance records. For his latest venture he has teamed up with the English Spirit Distillery and Master Distiller Dr John Walters to create a British Rum.

I have covered English Spirit Distillery in the past when I reviewed their rather Marmite like Old Salt Rum, way back in 2014.

Sir Ranulph Fiennes’ Great British Rum is distilled from imported molasses in Copper Pot Stills. This rum has been triple distilled with staves of exotic woods. These woods reflect some of Ranulphs most memorable expeditions.

The woods used are as follows noted next to them is the expedition they reflect

Canadian Sequoia – British Colombia Rivers

Norwegian (Wood – sorry) Pine – Jostedalsbreen Glacier

Omani Date Palm – The Lost City of Ubar

Sir Ranulph Fiennes’ Great British Rum has been bottled at 40% ABV and retails at £49. English Spirit have set up a website specifically for the rum. It is presented in a cardboard sleeve with imagery of Sir Ranulph. The bottle is a 3/4 stubby kind of affair with a nice tapered in profile. A wax seal and cork stopper complete the presentation. It’s nice and appeals on the shelf. It is priced at £50 and has no age statement – it is effectively unaged.

The rum caused a bit of a stir on a Facebook page I run as an admin – The UK Rum Club and James Lawrence from the English Spirit Distillery was quick to defend this rum. As the rum is distilled with wood staves to mimic ageing it – people are very skeptical. I spoke to English Spirit about this and they sent me the following information/opinion from Master Distiller Dr John Walters

“Standard rum can be aged in a barrel. Here rum distillate interacts with the wood barrel’s interior and some of the volume of the wood at ambient temperature. In some cases the inside of the barrel is charred; charring opens up the structure of the wood, increasing access to its interior, increasing surface area for the distillate to permeate and interact with the wood. Charring also turns the scorched part of the wood into little more than charcoal, carbon; it may have a mild filtering function, but as this area is relatively thin its capacity for doing so is probably inconsequential.

The chemistry of distillate, in particular malt spirit, interacting with wood has been well documented elsewhere so we won’t go into detail here. Suffice to say, the barrel aging process is ambient distillation of the remaining highly volatile molecules and alcohol loss as it evaporates through the micropores of the wood. The subsequent micro-oxygenation by air, which has displaced the exiting volatiles; and the chemistry that goes on between the wood and the distillate at the distillate-wood interface and within the interior of the wood.

This all takes time and is limited by the amount of distillate at any moment in contact with the wood and the subsequent diffusion of regions within the distillate with the new wood-provoked chemistry dispersing through the rest of the barrel. Kinetic energy can speed the wSir Ranulph Fiennes' Great British Rum Review by the fat rum piratehole thing up markedly, whether in the form of elevated temperature, agitation or both.

As Einstein once said “The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.” We examined the aging process and wanted to mimic it by separating in time and temperature some key steps in barrel aging to produce in essence an untimely rum with many of the characteristics facilitated by barrel-aging.

During the final distillation of our rum in our 200L copper pot alembics, we added charred woods. We took time to select the right woods, their shape, their surface to volume ratio and how much we’d charred them. Also we controlled when they were added and how much of each. We wanted to control the spirit-wood interaction as the temperature in the still ramped up to yield spirit.

Now we had an interesting colourless spirit and we sought even more finesse: At elevated temperature we had no chance of useful micro-oxygenation; our final step was an ambient pass through woods of specific charring or not, size, shape and direction for a specific period of time. Our sable delight.

With Ran Rum we wanted to honour the man’s innovation and daring. It’s not for everyone, but what do you care what other people think.”

So there you go – English Spirit in fairness do not try and suggest they can re-produce 20 years of ageing in 2 weeks unlike some………

I think that is more than enough detail on the rum so lets get on with the tasting.

In the glass Sir Ranulph Fiennes’ Great British Rum is a shade darker than straw. It looks relatively young but clearly the interaction with the wood has imparted some colour into the spirit.

The nose is big on the molasses and toffee. Much like a lot of young British rum. It’s quite sweet smelling but the Hydrometer indicates no additives. So that is probably the youthful smell of alcohol……….yum!

There’s quite a hit of aniseed on the nose and a slight note of tobacco and smokiness. It’s reminiscent in some ways of young European aged Port Mourant rums from DDL. Which is not a bad thing at all. The nose isn’t huge but it is pleasant and welcoming enough to make me want to take sip.

It’s quite peppery. I’m getting a fair amount of spice and black pepper on the initial sip. There is a slight smokiness and a little “stony” note. The molasses hasn’t come through as much – it’s not as sweet as the nose suggested. In fact the rum does feel a little less rummy, then I might have expected. That may be the triple distillation.

The over riding flavour to this rum is the wood influence which is very apparent. Surprisingly and depsite the initial entry Sir Ranulph Fiennes’ Great British Rum is pretty smooth, especially considering its youth. It goes down nicely and the finish is quite long lasting with a lot of pepper and spice.

Sir Ranulph Fiennes' Great British Rum Review by the fat rum pirateUnfortunately, it doesn’t taste like an aged rum though. It tastes like a relatively young rum. It’s overall smoother profile is at odds with the flavours which are more spicy than actually aged. I’m getting wood influence but its young and brash – a bit like a young bourbon.

As has been said by the Master Distiller himself – this rum will not be for everyone. Personally I quite like this. It’s quite a difficult rum to try and describe being entirely honest it is a little weird.

At the price point I would probably like to see a higher ABV – 43 or 46% and I’m not entirely sure the triple distillation is having a positive effect on the flavour of the rum. It’s certainly making the spirit smoother but I think it may be losing some flavour as well.

That said it’s quite enjoyable but it is priced in a very competitive part of the market.




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