Orkney drinks producer adds rum to the mix

The Orkney Wine Company has added a rum to its portfolio, produced under a new venture by the company called VS Distillers.

J. Gow Rum is named after Orcadian pirate, John Gow, who was executed in London for his crimes in 1725.

VS Distillers is a new venture by Collin van Schayk of the family run Orkney Wine Company, based on the island of Lamb Holm. Collin is the son of the company’s founders, Emile and Marjolein van Schayk.

Part of the Orkney Wine Company’s premises on Lamb Holm have been specially adapted and zoned off for rum production, with two 2,000-litre fermentation and distillation stills installed. Highlands and Islands Enterprise assisted with the equipment and marketing costs of the project.

Production of the rum began in April, with the first batches now bottled, labelled and ready to go on sale. The company is importing barrels from Italy and France, with plans to lay down and mature spirit for future releases.

Van Schayk said: “We were looking at how we could diversify the business and do something different that wasn’t gin, or whisky. We all like rum, so it was an obvious choice. It’s a first for Orkney and fits in well with the seafaring traditions of the islands, and our location on the shore of Lamb Holm.

“You can’t get away from pirates when it comes to rum, so we decided to embrace that element and connect the brand with Orkney’s very own privateer, John Gow.

“We first applied for a licence in January of last year and, naturally, there were several hurdles to jump before produxtion could begin. Our track record in wine production and our understanding of the fermentation process certainly gave us a head start, but it was still a steep learning curve at times. Suffice to say, we are delighted to now be bringing J. Gow to the market.”

The rum is made using a blend of spices from around the world, and it also includes two locally grown ingredients that Van Shayk is keeping secret.

The new rum’s tasting notes describe is as “light golden in colour, with a smooth rounded sweetness. Subtle citrus and cinnamon notes with a slight hint of vanilla and a warming spice finish.”

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