Hangover friends on boat tour host boozy business plan chat and start rum distillery

Why has no one tried to make rum on the island of Rum before?

That’s the question the team behind a whole new Scottish spirit asked when they launched their business last year.

Fergus McGowan, 25, who co-founded Askival Rum with friends Alasdair Gray, 27, and Josh Kerr, 28, explained that their exciting new venture grew out of a hangover discussion on the Isle.

Speaking to the Daily Record, Fergus explained: “In 2019 the three of us sailed past the island as part of Western Highlands Yachting Week.

“As a local of the group – I grew up on the west coast in Oban – I pointed out local landmarks such as islands and castles and talked about their history.

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“When Rum came up and I pointed and explained what it was – and then we joked that it would be a great idea to make a rum there.”

It wasn’t until the next day, when they were having a hangover over breakfast, that the idea of ​​why no one had actually created rum on the island really took hold.

“Everyone is talking about making rum on the island of Rum,” Fergus added. “And let’s say they got the idea, but nobody had done anything about it. We thought we would be the ones to do it.”

Three of the team on Rùm

Making their dream come true, the boys then rented a 19th-century sandstone farm barn in March 2020, but their launch was delayed when the pandemic struck.

Fergus added: “We had just started the business properly and then Covid hit us – which really wasn’t ideal.

“But we were still able to do a Crowdfunder in September 2020 and launch a presale. We received a lot of support, raising over £ 20,000 in just two weeks.”

Taking the time to be as careful as possible to follow covid regulations, they were finally able to fill their pre-sale traffic jams before officially launching in February 2021.

Although the three of them had various jobs in the hospitality industry, they knew they needed someone with real experience in beverage manufacturing.

This is where Craig Grozier, 43, stepped in; somewhat of an industry veteran, Fergus explained that Craig, a foraging expert, had previously worked for Michelin-starred restaurants and top beverage brands such as Bruichladdich’s Botanist Gin.

Fergus said: “We brought him on board and he was also very excited about the project, so he went to create this amazing recipe based on the plants that could be found on the island.”

The Askival botanical rum was then born from a recipe that featured roasted kelp, spruce and meadowsweet to represent the coasts, forests and valleys of the beautiful island.

Askival botanical rum
Askival botanical rum

Fergus added: “We don’t want to compete with Caribbean rums with all their super caramel notes, instead we thought we were creating a spirit that pays homage to the history of Rum Island while being rich and full of flavor. flavor.

“Kelp is symbolic, as the island was once known for its kelp farms, while mead (meadowsweet) was drunk by the Vikings who established their base here, and spruce is important too because there is a big reforestation project on the island. “

The innovative team, which fuses three Caribbean five-year-old rums on the island with their herbs, aims to grow organically with plans for a tourist offer and bring their own still to the island to the to come up.

“We are currently in the process of completely renovating the Byre,” said Fergus. “Being able to do tours in the future will be great because that’s one of the main reasons we have built this business, we want to help the rural community and have a positive impact on the island. We would like to create jobs. for people here too. “

Askival Botanical Rum is now on sale on the website which you can find here.

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