DropWorks Rum Distillery

Drop Works Rum Distillery logo and a man pushing a brown barrel.

From the Middle Ages, we have many tales of adventure surrounding Sherwood Forest, The Sheriff of Nottingham and of course Robin Hood and his merry men. After a long day of robbing the rich to give to the poor, the most common beverage at their table was ale. Within the castle walls, the Sheriff may have also enjoyed mead and wine.

Some 13 centuries later there’s a new Sheriff in town…in the form of a craft spirit, specifically, Rum.

Based in Welbeck, Nottinghamshire, DropWorks Distillery is not only the largest rum distillery in Europe, it’s larger than many in the Caribbean, the birthplace of the spirit. Founder and owner Lewis Hayes, a veteran of the industry, has opened numerous bars around the world with his consultancy business, one of which housed the largest gin and rum collection on earth. Hayes was always passionate about rum however, as he felt it was the most undervalued and misunderstood by the general public due to decades of colourful marketing associated with pirates and adventures at sea.

A self-confessed “Rum-nerd”, Hayes is out to change all that by bringing it into the modern era. Knowing the general consumer’s appetite for Rum is growing in leaps and bounds every year, DropWorks Distillery will not only focus on quality, high-volume production, but also educational tours and seminars on the technology and artistry of the world’s best-tasting rum.

Featuring a large wash still and two finishing stills, one with a double thumper configuration and the other with an 8 bubble cap tray rectification column, DropWorks has the capability of producing a wide variety of spirit with unique flavour characteristics. The design and aesthetics of the pot stills were important to both Hayes and his head distiller Shaun Smith. The pot stills are beautifully clad with North American White Oak, resulting in a system from Specific that is both a technical work of art and a thing of beauty. DropWorks is leading the charge in the world’s recognition of the UK being a rum-producing nation.

Lewis Hayes lives in Nottingham and to him, it feels like it’s his city. Making the deliveries himself helps him showcase the product and make his personal touch evident to the local people and businesses.

The first product was an unaged crystal-clear liquid, followed by dark and spiced rums. The barrel-aged will likely make its debut in 2025.

Not unlike other craft spirits, there are rules around the production of rum.

Hayes says, “The legal definition of rum across all different nations in the world, is you can’t add any flavourings and still call it rum. If you go to a supermarket today you will find many brands selling themselves as rum even though they are flavoured.

We are celebrating quality production processes without additional flavouring. We generate so much flavour and spice within the natural process of fermentation and distillation that we can bottle it without having to add any of the nonsense.”

“We age it for a little bit on some wooden chips, so in the space of 24 hours, we can get the flavours we need out of the wood.
American oak attributes vanilla, and French oak is really famous for delivering on spice notes, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.
We add those flavours naturally through infusion. We have given our prototype to a few bartenders and the reaction has been mind-bogglingly good.”

Lewis Hayes’ vision is taking off. DropWorks stands out in every aspect of the business right down to the unique and modern packaging. They’ve created a strong identity that has made its mark in Britain and is poised to do the same in Europe and the rest of the world.

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