Why we fell in love with rum

In the last blog post I told you all about how we came to create OMH and why we were suddenly thrust onto a completely different path in our lives. It feels like a lifetime ago now (multiple lockdowns certainly help drag time out!) but at the same time it feels like it was just yesterday that Matt was working with Flybe and us three  were waving goodbye from the window. Don’t even get me started on how grown up my babies are now!

I promised that I’d tell you how we came up with the name and some of the logistics of creating the company (I’ll try to keep the technical boring to a minimum!), so I’ll try my best.

We spent countless nights at the kitchen table brainstorming ideas for a recession proof, sustainable company. We never wanted to be caught out in the same situation again so it was absolutely imperative that we poured all our efforts into something that could withstand the turbulence of the pandemic. Our first “brainwave” was a portable slide that could fit over half the stairs so the kids could have some sort of indoor playground during lockdown. I still love the idea but the practicalities proved impossible and there are several prototypes out there already. If any of you end up inventing the perfect indoor slide, please let me know and I’ll be the first to buy one!

In the end, we kept circling back to alcohol - you can sell it online and in shops (if they’re open), people buy it to enjoy at home and it’s never going to go out of fashion. There are a lot of fantastic local gins where we live and we were struck by all the creative ways they were navigating through the pandemic. There was absolutely no room for us in the gin market- it is well and truly stocked to the gunnels so we decided to try something new and exciting - rum!

We spent many, many nights infusing white rum with different ingredients and absolutely fell in love with the range of flavours that we could create. We got so carried away with the delicious drinks and naively thought it would be so easy to create our company and show everyone all the beautiful concoctions we were making.

The logistics of actually starting up our own rum company came as a harsh wake-up call as soon as we started researching the technicalities of licences, premises and duty payments. We quickly realised we had nowhere near enough money to buy a distillery and after a few initial chats with HMRC it also proved equally unlikely that we would be granted a distillers licence as neither of us had any experience in the drinks industry or with duty payments and alcohol sales. Our only realistic route to distilling our own rum was to start off with a rectifiers and compounders licence. This meant that we had to contract out the initial distillation of the pure white rum to a licensed, established distillery and then compound and rectify (re-distil) it ourselves in order to produce our range of bespoke rums.

It wasn’t just the admin and legal side of the business that turned out to be extraordinarily difficult, the development of the flavours also took a lot of time to perfect! We knew straight away that we only wanted to use whole, natural, fresh ingredients and not synthetic dropper bottles (although these are technically labelled “natural ingredients” somehow). I desperately wanted to create a basil flavoured rum (bear with me - it tastes better than it sounds) but whenever we tried, it ended up going brown and tasting like straw!! There were a lot of failed experiments that were way too gross to drink, even though I tried my best to disguise it in all sorts of punch concoctions. We quickly realised the flavours we initially wanted were only replicable through synthetic flavourings so we decided to ditch them and try other flavours that could hold their own in the rum.

Once we’d decided to make our own rum, we then had to come up with a suitable name that was interesting enough to market as well as staying true to ourselves. Our surname is Hunt and it’s always been the running joke that we would have to be careful what we named our children, we definitely couldn’t call our son Isaac and we “affectionately” became known as the family’s favourite Bunch of Hunts. I’m the youngest out of my 3 siblings and I had our daughter when I was only 25. Our daughter was a little fire cracker from the moment she came into the world and neither of our children have ever liked to sleep more than the absolute bare minimum. I became convinced that I’d aged 10 years in 6 months and so thus became Old Mother Hunt. My sister bought me a joke blue plaque commemorating “Old Mother Hunt - finally able to embrace middle age after years of just being knackered” a couple of years ago and I decided to fully accept my premature middle age and honour it with our own rum brand.

In the next blog post I’ll touch on a few of the joys of trying to build a business during a pandemic and Brexit!