Artisanal Rum – Meet the makers of John Paul Jones Rum.
It’s strange how quickly words come into fashion. At some point in the last twenty or so years, people started describing all sorts of things as ‘artisanal’. Fast forward to today, and the word has become almost everyday parlance (particularly in the world of marketing) for all sorts of things, even those that it probably shouldn’t have. That’s why we thought that we’d use this blog to explore what we mean when we describe John Paul Jones as ‘artisanal rum’ and why it actually makes a lot of sense when applied to what we do. We’ll also get the chance to meet the people who create our craft rum and find out what made them want to enter the world of premium artisanal rum.
What does the word ‘artisan’ mean?
Artisan came into English in the 16th century from the French, which came from the Italian word ‘artigiano’, which effectively means ‘skilled craftsman’. The origin of the word comes from the Latin noun ‘ars/artis’, which translates as ‘method’ or ‘skill’. So it’s clear that when we talk about ‘artisanal rum’ or ‘craft rum’, we’re describing something that’s taken skill and expertise to make. In the world of artisanal rum, that means that the makers take pride in their product and how it tastes, which isn’t something that could readily be said about the major players in the mass-produced rum industry, for whom volume, consistency and, let’s be honest, low costs are the biggest priorities.
The craftsmanship behind John Paul Jones rum.
When we made the decision to set sail on our craft rum journey, we were inspired not only by the adventurous, revolutionary spirit of John Paul Jones but also by the Scotch whisky industry. We’ve always admired the way that great Scotch whisky brands have managed to grow and expand internationally without compromising time-honoured techniques or sacrificing quality. A lot of this has to do with the strict regulations that need to be met to call a drink ‘Scotch whisky’ and the tireless work of the Scotch Whisky Association, who should get a lot of credit.
Scottish artisanal rum that’s treated with the same care as whisky.
As the oldest spirit in the world—rum has been made since the 1620s—rum is not nearly as strictly regulated as Scotch whisky. Essentially, if you’re making a spirit from distilled sugar molasses (you can read more about what rum is made from here), you can call it ‘rum’. What that means is that you don’t necessarily have to adopt artisanal rum methods to bottle and sell craft rum. As a result, there is a lot of distinctly average rum out there, which we weren’t interested in adding to, let alone attaching the name of John Paul Jones. Right from the beginning, and taking inspiration from Scotland, the home of John Paul Jones and our one of our founders, we wanted to make craft rum, in Scotland, with all the care and attention that’s associated with the very finest Scotch. Our exceptional range of botanical rum is the result, and we’re very proud of it.
Q&A With the team behind John Paul Jones artisanal rum.
We sat down with Ollie and Finn, our founders, to ask them about their passion for craft rum and their take on JPJ’s future.
What does the phrase artisanal rum mean to you?
For me, being an artisanal rum producer means taking the time to produce small batch rum in a way that larger spirits manufacturers simply can’t. As they need to produce huge amounts and maintain a large margin, they tend to prioritise volume and cost over taste and quality. We never wanted to create just another rum, as there is enough standard stuff out there already.
As well as producing botanical rum of the very best quality, we also wanted to challenge convention and put a bit of pressure on the big players to up their game. As we grow John Paul Jones Rum, we want consumers to expect more from a spirit that’s often been overlooked. Ultimately, we want to build a real connection between our brand and passionate rum drinkers. We’re keen to create a dialogue between us and our customers that teaches them about how great this spirit can be when done properly. If we raise the bar, others will have to up their game if they don’t want to be left behind!
How much has the country of Scotland, and its history of whisky production in particular, influenced John Paul Jones rum?
I grew up in Scotland and have always been inspired by the famously unwavering high standards of whisky production. When we made the decision to launch our business, we knew from the outset that fine whisky should be the benchmark. We really believe that our rums can proudly stand alongside the great single malts in terms of quality, flavour and artisanal production methods.
The main difference, though, is that whisky isn’t steeped. They don’t add flavour after distillation. So we asked ourselves instead what their approach would be if they did, and went from there. One thing we knew for certain was that we would never add sugar or any artificial colours or flavours. That would be unconscionable in the whisky world, so it’s totally out of the question for John Paul Jones.
What do you think the future holds for craft rum?
Growth and more growth. Our analysis of consumer trends in alcohol, food and lifestyle suggests that consumers are pushing for more transparency as to the way their spirits are produced and the level of quality inside the bottle.
We’re happy to see the smaller artisanal rum producers like us pushing the big beasts to a higher standard. Raising the quality of rum leads to more people enjoying it, which will only make the category grow, so we would welcome a rum boom and see ourselves leading the way.
What are your ambitions for the next stage of your artisanal rum journey?
We want to bring the John Paul Jones Rum brand to everywhere we can. Our ambition is to share the story of Captain John Paul Jones with rum drinkers new and old the world over.
We’re really proud to be an artisanal rum producer, but it’s no secret that our ambition is to grow into a household name brand. We know that we can do that without compromising our standards, as the great Scotch whisky brands have shown us that it’s possible.