Pembrokeshire pirate-inspired spiced seaweed rum to go global

[Global] Speaking to the drinks business, founder Jonathan Williams explained why he wanted to combine Pembrokeshire’s links to piracy with a seaweed infused rum.

John Roberts, more commonly known as Bartholomew Roberts, was a Welsh pirate from Casnewydd Bach, near Puncheston in Pembrokeshire. He is thought to have gone to sea at just 13 years of age, working with fellow Pembrokeshire pirate Howell Davis, and later went on to capture almost 500 vessels.

He has been cited by Marcus Rediker in his Villains of All Nations (2004) as the most successful pirate of the Golden Age of Piracy in terms of the number of vessels captured. His pirate code is one of nine sets recorded in Charles Johnson’s A General History of the Pyrates (1724).

After his death in a battle with the Royal Navy, he became known as Black Bart, or Barti Ddu in Welsh, hence the name of Williams’ rum.

“Inspiration for me always comes from the local area, the food, traditions and stories,” said Williams. “The business will always be rooted in the history of our local seas”.

As well as producing rum, Williams is also the creator of The Pembrokeshire Beach Food Company which produces a range of products, including laver seaweed paste, sea truffle butter and ‘kelpchup’, using locally foraged ingredients.

“I have always specialised in seaweeds mainly as a food ingredient /product. I think seaweed is a fantastic ingredient which we have used in stout and beer and always works so well. I like to do a whisky and vodka with certain seaweeds as they have different flavours,” said Williams.

The recently launched rum is made with handpicked laver seaweed, affectionately known as ‘Welshman’s caviar,’ which is put into a “giant tea bag” and infused with a Caribbean un-aged rum blend. Williams then adds lemon, orange, vanilla, clove, ginger and cinnamon to produce a “heavy spiced, citrus dark seaweed rum”.

Williams warns that he cannot guarantee his products are free from crustaceans or molluscs.

After launching this summer, business has gone “a lot better” than Williams expected.

“We launched this summer and our first batch lasted five weeks. The second batch has just arrived and is flying, so business has been great”.

The rum is stocked in around 50 delis and independent beer shops in Wales and is served in roughly 100 bars in the country. Williams reveals that he has had “interest from New York bars” and plans “to focus on England after Christmas”.

Describing the flavour imparted by the seaweed, Williams added: “I found that the seaweed has an amazing effect of smoothing the drink and adding a depth of flavour which wasn’t there before. It is subtle but very lovely”.

Although he plans to concentrate on the English market next year, Williams wants to launch his rum around the world as well as developing smaller, niche rum products too.


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