Georgina and John Bowell

Meet Georgina and John Bowell from Goldstone Rum

We sit down with Georgina and John Bowell from Goldstone Rum, a newly established family-run distillery and Sussex supplier situated in Henfield, Sussex.

Launched in December 2022, Goldstone Rum sets itself apart by adhering to traditional methods, being one of the few distilleries in the UK crafting rum from scratch.

They achieve this by fermenting a blend of sugar cane juice, jaggery, panela, and molasses, emphasising a commitment to the authentic rum-making process.

Georgina and John Bowell. We interview the owners of Goldstone Rum.

You are an award winning rum already, tell us more?

We started Goldstone Rum a year ago in December 2022, we put the first batch into two awards really to get some feedback from the judges and for a bit of fun, we never thought we would end up winning a Silver Medal from The London Spirits Competition and a star from The Great Taste Awards. We were both a bit surprised we knew the rum tasted good but we weren’t expecting to win anything in our first year.

Why is your rum different?

Our rum is different because we don’t add any hidden nasties when we make our rum, all of our ingredients are what they say, cane sugar (molasses, jaggery, panela and fresh cane juice), water and yeast, nothing else!

A slow fermentation compared to mass produced products and then simply double distilled.

Another good example is our spiced, we make this by adding nine real spices into our white rum and then we leave it to extrude all the wonderful flavours, spice carries over well into alcohol and it leaves the rum with the most delicious festive spice flavour, we’ve even been asked if we can make it into a room scent! Most people don’t realise that many rums out there have a huge amount of added sugar, colours and flavours and as there isn’t an ingredients list the consumer would never know.

the rum fermentation process and apparatus at Goldstone Rum

How did Goldstone Rum come about?

Goldstone Rum was a lockdown idea between the two of us, we are both massive foodies John being an ex chef and Georgina growing up in a family pub, we wanted to do something different away from the corporate world we’ve found ourselves in. So after a lot of research Goldstone Rum was born.

What are the characteristics of a rum drinker?

Rum drinkers come in all shapes and sizes, particularly more recently with the rum market really taking off. The beauty of rum is its versatility, a simple rum and ginger ale to more elaborate mojitos and daiquiris. We have customers who are from all walks of life who come together to share a love of rum.

The selection of 7 rums available at Goldstone Rum.

How is your rum is made?

Our rum is made by adding fresh sugar cane juice, jaggery, panela and molasses to water and a special rum yeast strain. We ferment this for around 10-14 days which is much longer than a commercial rum which would ferment for normally around 72 hours. By leaving it for longer we sour the ferment which supports the delicious unique flavour profile we get from our rum.

The ferment then goes into our still for its first distillation, we do the first run through the pot and it comes out of there at about 40% abv.

The second distillation goes through the column part of our still and this strips out the harsh burn you often get with rum but leaves all the delicious rum flavour we’ve created in the fermentation.

From there we have different processes depending on which flavour we are creating, some are distilled for a third time like our ginger and lime, others are macerated.

How did you learn to refine the rum into the blend it is today?

Distillation is quite a simple process, boil an alcoholic liquid to create a vapour which then gets cooled down but there is a big difference between creating any spirit and refining it to create something really special. We spent months researching and blending our recipes to what we have today.

The other important part of the process is our still, it’s a special still specifically designed to make rum smooth spirit whilst retaining all the great aroma and flavour you get from rum.

What was your vision for Goldstone Rum?

We are still only very small and both still working alongside Goldstone Rum.

Our vision is to make a quality rum that is recognised certainly around the South East even across the UK.

Is there a moment in your rum career that stands out above the rest?

When Simon and Paloma from Difford’s Guide, a world renowned cocktail website came to visit our distillery and gave us lovely feedback, and 4.5 stars out of 5 we were incredibly chuffed. Someone with his knowledge and expertise who has visited many, many distilleries being so supportive of our journey cemented why we set up Goldstone Rum.

7 different blends of Goldstone Rum. Born in Henfield in Sussex

Tell us about the challenges facing the drinks industry today?

Times are tough out there at the moment and for craft distillers, in fact any craft producers there are always cheaper options available from the supermarkets. As with all small producers our products are made with a lot of love and passion and buying from us helps to keep the artisan producers going.

Has there been any form of support to launch your business?

We’ve created this business on our own without any outside support.

It can be incredibly tough at times especially in this current climate, but we are both really passionate about this project and excited to see where the next 12-18 months takes us.

Which restaurants in Brighton or Sussex do you work with?

Across Brighton, Sussex, Kent and London we are in about 90 bars and restaurants everywhere from The Little Fish Market, Etch, The Ivy and Gung-Ho to The Cleveland Arms and The Chimney House.

Marmite bread at etch. etch stock Goldstone Rum

etch. restaurant in Hove

Tell us about your Rum School, how does one get involved?

Our rum school is a great fun unique evening out. Guests come along to our distillery in Henfield and are able to distil their own bottle of rum using our huge range of fruits, spices and botanicals.

We teach them all about distillation and show them how to create their own recipe.

There are of course a fair few rum cocktails and rum samples consumed during the evening. You can book the rum school on our website and there is also an option to buy gift vouchers too.

What is next for Goldstone Rum?

The year ahead is looking really exciting, we are looking to build volume over the 2024 and to get a wider distribution network.

Alongside that we’ve just launched our dark rum and overproof which has had an incredible reaction. Our first batch of dark rum sold out in three weeks!

We hear you can tour your distillery for £10?

Yes you can, we’ve deliberately made our Goldstone Rum distillery tours really affordable because we want everyone to be able to come and have a look around and try what great rum tastes like. We run tours once a month on a Saturday afternoon and have gift vouchers available on our website, the perfect affordable rum gift.

Goldstone Rum logo. Gold on blue background

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