Could you tell us a bit more about your plans, please?
We are currently starting our own rum distillery in Amsterdam. We are going to do everything ourselves. We start with fermentation, distillation and aging. When the aging is complete, we bottle and label the rum ourselves. Having a rum distillery in the Netherlands is quite a challenge. There are multiple distilleries in Amsterdam, most of those make liqueurs with GNS as a base. That is not an option for us because rum is made of sugar cane or a sugarcane product. We need to import sugarcane molasses as a raw material.
We also want to educate people on rum. How it is made, where it comes from and what styles you have will be explained in our master classes. We hope to contribute to the popularity of rum, which is already an upcoming liquor.
We are still preparing for our grand opening this summer. Both on a technical as a commercial level. We are ordering all the equipment we need and we started a crowdfunding to get additional funding. Until the 31st of March we are doing a presale of our rum and masterclasses at crowdaboutnow: www.crowdaboutnow.nl/rummieclub.
How did you come up with the idea to start up a distillery?
We have been thinking about starting our own company for a while. The independence and being able to do what you want sounded great for us. We had several ideas like making “bitterballen”, a typical dutch snack. Many of our ideas originated from our hobbies. Cooking and having a good time with our friends. Since we visited some whisky distilleries in Scotland we always joked about starting our own distillery. Rum is something we really love and also has so many possibilities for its use and great vibes around it. So after a while of just hobby-ing we thought this is the moment. If we are not going to do it now it will never happen. And that’s when we sold our house and just started talking to lots of professionals to see if our ideas were feasible. Now a year further down the road we are almost opening the distillery and still happy with the choice we made.
Where is your distillery going to be located?
Last October we found an amazing new project of very light and colorful commercial buildings for small entrepreneurs. It is located on the border of Diemen and Amsterdam’s Southeast, where we now live. So it’s still doable by bike from Amsterdam center, but also close to public transport. Amsterdam Southeast is a very interesting area which is expected to develop a lot the next few years. We would love to be part of the great atmosphere in this area; a vibe that really fits with rum!
We expect to get the key the 15th of April. And after some additional work and an artist making a mural on the wall the equipment will come in and we will start production at the end of May. So you are very welcome for a distillery tour from may onwards 😉
What is your business model looking like? Tasting room, distribution?
At first we will start with bringing an un-aged rum to the market and later on we will sell aged rums too. Rummieclub rum will start at café’s and liquor stores mostly in Amsterdam and expand further when possible. Next to that, we will also organize masterclasses and distillery tours every two weeks and make cocktails at festivals and events. For now we both keep our other jobs for a few days a week until we can make enough with our own rum or find a place for a bar.
Where do you envision yourself 5 years down the road, Judith?
In five years we hope to have shared the energizing Rummieclub vibes at great events. I expect people to understand more about rum and therefore demanding more quality and honesty in their rums. As for Rummieclub I would like to have a stable business making good quality rums and having fun with it. We especially would like to own our own bar where we can share the Rummieclub vibe. Maybe with some greenhouses for aging our rum and growing some sugarcane and ginger for our ginger beer.
How does it feel to start your own company? To be self-employed now?
We always wanted to start our own company and make a community out of it. We love making our own choices, but that also makes us feel more responsible for the outcome which is stressful sometimes. Whenever we are at an event as Rummieclub we feel the energy flowing and know we made the right decision.
What made you decide to go with iStill equipment?
In June 2018 we followed the distilling course at iStill University because we wanted to learn more about fermentation and distilling. We really like the open and scientific way with which iStill looked at the whole production process. iStill gives us creative technological innovations by thinking a step further in the process and looking at the many factors influencing taste. Next to that,the iStill is easy to use and we especially like the fact we have control to make our own choices for the perfect rum. We don’t have that much space in our Amsterdam distillery so we like the fact we can ferment and distill in one boiler. If you compare the use of iStills making rum to iStills making other distillates, the rum world doesn’t use them so often, but I think they really work well together: A still with many possibilities for a liquor with many possibilities.