Burning Barn Rum. Craft Rum Born from Flames.
Burning Barn Rum is a seriously sexy brand. The name, logo and marketing ooze a crafty hip quality that is often attempted but only occasionally this successful. We contacted Burning Barn to discover more about their story. The founders, Katherine & Harry Jenner, were only to happy to share the history behind their brand:
"In September 2015 flights into Birmingham airport were diverted due to a huge column of black smoke rising from a barn on the flight path. That barn belonged to my father-in-law and that day his life's work burnt down. A fluke accident that led to his toffee apple business, which he'd built from the ground up including designing and building his own automated production line, was gone. It was my father-in-law's response to this disaster which really inspired my husband and I to start our own business. He rebuilt the barn and his toffee apple machine in less than a year, so he was trading again by September 2016. We found this incredibly tenacious, brave and inspiring and it gave us the nudge we needed to put our idea into motion."
Katherine & Harry's decision to make rum came from a frustration at the lack of choice for rum drinkers in the UK. They wanted to bring a truly craft offering to what they felt was a market saturated by synthetically flavoured and mass produced rum.
Their hard work and creativity are certainly paying off! Burning Barn Rum is showing some steady growth with their products now available from Harrods and Harvey Nichols, with plans to begin exporting soon. On top of that, they've also just launched their own range of really cool merch!
Can you describe Burning Barn Rum in one sentence?
We hand-craft bold, authentic rum using only whole, natural spices and ingredients. How has Burning Barn Rum grown since you founded it?
Since we launched in 2017 we've been stocked in Harvey Nichols and Harrods, we have listings with around 7 local wholesalers as well as two national wholesalers, and we've explored export to the likes of Germany. We're always looking to work closely with our wholesalers to reach more stockists and ultimately more consumers. Our new release Honey & Rum Liqueur last summer was a really exciting moment, along with launching our e-commerce website in November 2018. We've since added merch to the mix which has been going down a storm. How is Burning Barn Rum made? Do you outsource your manufacturing?
To make Burning Barn rums we import the base rum from Guyana. We use a blend of pot, column and wooden coffey distilled rums which have been aged for 3 years. We then do all the flavourings by hand on our farm. It's very important to us to add value to the rum we're bottling, rather than just importing and bottling, so we choose to do this ourselves so we can infuse the essence of our brand into our drinks. For our Smoked rum, we harvest apple trees from the orchard on site which is no longer in commercial apple production. We season and chip the wood then use it to cold smoke the rum itself in a former apple juice tank with an oak lid. It's a really unique process which gives our rum an incredibly smooth, smoky taste with a long finish. Perfect in an Old Fashioned. We roast the spiced for our Spiced rum by hand in large copper pans before infusing them into the rum for different lengths of time per spice. We wanted to create a truly spicy Spiced rum, the antithesis to very sweet and vanilla heavy spiced rums at the lower end of the market. Our rums are all about progression - just like you might progress from Carling to BrewDog, we hope rum drinkers will progress from Captain Morgan's to Burning Barn! Our Honey & Rum Liqueur is just pure golden honey & rum. We have hives on the farm which inspired this variant, so we use some of our own honey plus local organic and blossom honeys. What challenges have you faced in growing your business?
To be honest it has felt like challenge after challenge! I think we went in quite naively thinking that if it's a great product with great packaging and a great story, people will buy it. But it's of course been much less straightforward than that. It's been tough having such a small team - there's only so much you can do in a day/week/year with only 1 person full-time. We've tried really hard to learn from every mistake and hurdle we've overcome though, and we feel incredibly grateful for all the support we've had as well as for every customer and consumer who has believed in us and given us a chance.
How have you grown awareness of your brand?
Social media has been great for us to get the word our and connect with rum drinkers. We also love going to events with a similar ethos to us, rum festivals and tasting events. There's no better feeling than watching people try our rum and smacking their lips with appreciation! How do you market Burning Barn Rum? Mixing is not a Crime is our current marketing campaign - by far the most popular way of consuming rum is with a mixer but we’ve noticed that there’s an element of snobbery around good honest folk asking for a rum and cola. Our theory is that the reason that drinking spiced rum with a mixer has a bad rep is down to the practice of mixing cheap soda with synthetic mass-produced spiced rum. What makes Burning Barn rum different is that we use authentic whole ingredients to create delicious bold flavours specifically designed to shine through a mixer. Mixing Is Not a Crime will pair Burning Barn Rums with a great selection of colas, ginger ales and lemonades to champion a brilliant way to enjoy your rum. What does the future hold for a Burning Barn Rum? Where do you see the brand in five years?
Our ambitions are pretty big and far reaching for Burning Barn! In 5 years we'd like to be stocked in every major UK city and available on back bars and menus up and down the country. Our goal is also to have a strong presence in at least 10 export markets, and to be in a position to launch in the US. Our brand will be synonymous with not only great quality rum but also with great experiences and adventures.
Growing a brand can be frustrating, so at Growth Rocket we like to think a little inspiration helps a lot. Is there an entrepreneur who you find particularly inspiring?
Ben Francis from GymShark is also from the Midlands and is hugely inspiring, how young he is and what he's achieved already constantly blows my mind! Within food and drink there are loads I look up to - the guys at BrewDog for challenging the status quo, Ella Woodward from Deliciously Ella for sticking to loyally to her core purpose, Alan and Julie Barratt from Grenade...so many! Although they are still in the start up phase of their businesses, there are also some incredibly inspiring entrepreneurs I've been lucky enough to meet in the last two years who have offered me invaluable advice and support - Paul from Birmingham Brewing Co, Surlender from Love Writing Co, Stefania from Purely Plantain to name a few. If you could go back to the beginning of Burning Barn Rum and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
Oh there's so much I wish I knew then that I know now! Because I had left a corporate job full of processes and protocols to start Burning Barn, I let go of all that boring and mundane structure and plunged head first into "start-up life" with no processes whatsoever. That was definitely a mistake! Big companies have processes for a reason so I'd urge any start-up to get those in place early, while you're still small. If you could sit down and share a few glasses of Burning Barn Rum with anyone, who would it be?
Ooh good question! We'd love to sit down with the distillers at the Diamond Distillery in Guyana who make our base rum - it would be a tense moment but we hope they'd love what we've created with their delicious dark rum. Finally, can you give us a quick run down of a day at Burning Barn HQ?
A typical day starts at 8am in the office, accompanied by our trusty office dog Freja. I usually tackle emails first then my day can include anything from meetings on site with one of our wholesale partners or our distributor, visits to stockists or potential stockists, a photoshoot with our rums in a local bar/pub, packing orders, roasting spices or bottling! Because we do all the flavouring, filtering, bottling and labelling on site, if we have a batch in production it dominates a lot of my time as I want to ensure it's perfect at every stage. The tasting stage is my favourite!
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