Distilled in Britain but with a proud East African heritage, Matugga Rum is a brand new range of premium rum that will be hitting the UK drinks market during the inaugural Rum Experience Week (12 – 18 October). As part of the official launch, Matugga will be holding a Rum Appreciation and Matugga Rum Lounge at LIBRARY on Tuesday 13th October. The silky smooth texture and uniquely complex flavours of both Matugga Golden Rum and Matugga Spiced Rum are sure to prove popular, whether enjoyed on ice or as the basis for a delicious cocktail.
We caught up with LIBRARY member Jacine Rutasikwa, one of the co-founders of Matugga Rum, to hear the story behind Matugga and find out what we can expect from Rum Lounge (and which cocktail she’ll be drinking).
What is the inspiration behind Matugga Rum?
The inspiration for us is Matugga, a town just north of Kampala, Uganda’s capital city. Paul, my husband and co-founder of Matugga Rum, is Ugandan, and we have extensive family land (historically a sugar cane plantation) in Matugga. It’s a very beautiful, serene and spirited place, and we had the idea to showcase the region’s incredibly rich soil, high-quality sugar cane and natural produce by creating a sipping rum of superior quality.
‘From the Soil to the Soul’ is Matugga’s mantra; it really captures the overall narrative, and our ambition to resonate within the heart and soul of the culture.
What is involved in creating this unique recipe (blending East African molasses with UK distillation methods)?
It’s a very complex process, which begins with importing our high-quality molasses from East Africa. Under the watchful eye of our Master Distiller, the molasses are handcrafted through small-batch copper pot distillation in Cambridgeshire. During the three rounds of distillation, the heads and tails are cut to extract the ‘heart’ of the spirit, ensuring complexity and smoothness.
Matugga Golden Rum is finished on uncharred English oak. To create Matugga Spiced Rum, we then embellish the rum with a uniquely East African blend of black tea and fragrant spices. We are proud to be promoting East Africa’s incredibly rich natural produce while showcasing British micro-distillery craft at its best.
Matugga is already receiving worldwide recognition – how does that feel?
Matugga Spiced Rum was recently awarded a silver medal at the 2015 New York World Wine and Spirits Competition, at which 22 countries and almost 1000 brands of spirits and wines competed. It feels incredible to have scored such a resounding and excellent response amongst international drinks experts. The award is a tribute to the phenomenal work undertaken to develop our spirits, and gives us great confidence as we prepare for the official U.K. launch of Matugga Rum during Rum Experience Week (12 – 18 October).
What can guests expect from the Rum Appreciation Masterclass and Matugga Rum Lounge at LIBRARY?
We are very excited to be working with rum expert Peter Holland (from the TheFloatingRumShack.com), to host a fun evening for rum novices and enthusiasts at LIBRARY. Guests will enjoy an interactive journey of rum discovery including an introduction to the heritage and craft of rum making, a guide to understanding rum traditions and culture, an introduction to rum pairing, and a rum sampling session (including an exclusive chance to try the first limited edition batch of Matugga Rum).
After the Rum Appreciation Masterclass, guests can enjoy a relaxed session at the Mezzanine One bar. We’re providing complimentary appetizers and guests can experience a selection of exquisite Matugga Rum cocktails curated by LIBRARY’s very own Dimitris Gryparis - £7 all night.
What is your favourite rum-based cocktail?
My favourite cocktail is the Matugga Spiced Clandestino, devised by LIBRARY Bar Manager Dimitris Gryparis. It’s a perfectly balanced, tantalising blend of sweet and sour: Matugga Spiced Rum, pineapple juice, champagne syrup, lemon juice, and balsamic vinegar. Special seems too small a word for this libation! Other favourites include a Rum Old Fashioned and a Mai Tai Caliente.
Where do you see Matugga heading in the future?
Matugga Beverages is still a very young company, but we have big ambitions! We ground ourselves by repeating the Swahili proverb ‘pole pole ndio mwendo’ which means ‘slow, slow is the way to go’. This proverb also highlights how we encourage everyone to enjoy Matugga Rum - neat, on ice, or as the base for an outstanding cocktail, but always slowly - and it reflects our approach to growing our business.
Ultimately, we aim to take the Matugga brand back to East Africa. We are working to source more raw materials and ingredients from the area so that we can actively support local farming communities. Consumers are becoming more attuned to carefully crafted, artisan sprits. In addition to quality and taste, their focus is very much on how the ingredients are sourced, and how they’re handled afterwards. It matters to them, and it matters to us.
Interview by Grace Cain