Although the principal driver for embarking on this project is rum, we are passionate about the artisan spirit movement and giving Portsmouth it’s own distillery and range of spirits for the first time in hundreds of years.
The founders have always had a real passion for rum, and through their years in the industry, selling and tasting this versatile and flavoursome spirit it seemed the natural thing to do to start producing it. Initially to fill an ever-growing gap in the market for fine quality small-batch artisan white rum, but with an eye to laying this down to age, playing the long game, to have world-class aged sipping rums in the future.
That all said, we have also developed a world class Gin, to give Portsmouth it’s own Dry Gin for the first time in centuries. This, in conjunction with 1968 unaged rum, Cinnabar Spiced rum and Forum, garden rum.
On the southeastern tip of Portsea Island, surrounded by the sea, and Naval History, the fabulous historic waterfront city of Portsmouth plays host to Hampshire’s premier distillery: The Portsmouth Distillery Company. The distillery was set up to once again produce accessible high-quality spirits on the island of Portsea, where the last time a distillery was in operation was in the eighteenth century. So where better to give a rebirth to a spirit company than in the impressive eighteenth century Fort Cumberland.
The idyllic, tranquil location of Fort Cumberland has been a real inspiration for the creation of this world class gin. The recipe was constructed when three key botanicals were found growing in the grounds of the Fort: Elderflower, Gorse Flower and Sea Radish. When these are combined with our own blend of aromatic botanicals, they produce an exquisite gin which has a rich, full, floral bouquet, is silky smooth on the palate, there is just enough spice to prick the interest, before a citrus herbeaceous ‘biscuit’ finish.
Through years of drinking, collecting and dealing in fine sipping rums, we have developed a clear understanding of what makes a great rum. All this research into what makes good white rum, straight off the still is what has led us to our final production process, ensuring a superior product when aged. It is made using dehydrated sugar cane juice from Costa Rica, which we make into a syrup and then ferment for a few weeks in the ancient and atmospheric arched casemate, before being double distilled to produce a world-class small batch artisan white rum. Some of this rum is then laid down to age in ex Jim Beam Bourbon barrels from the USA in the ancient powder magazines of Fort Cumberland, less than 100m from the sea.
Starting a distillery from scratch, as you might imagine, is not an easy task, it required real commitment and belief in our abilities and our products. Through hard work and dedication, coupled with a passion and meticulous attention to detail we aim give Portsmouth a group of spirits they will be rightly proud of. We have opened our account with two exceptional products: Fort Gin and 1968 white unaged rum.
We were passionate that the distillery had to be somewhere on Portsea Island with history and a heritage (which this historic waterfront island has a plenty), to which we could connect. Fort Cumberland, with it’s obvious history and role in the defence of Portsmouth harbour, and latterly its role in housing the Royal Marine’s Anti-Aircraft Brigade, all struck a chord with our founders, especially two with their naval service and in particular Anti Air Warfare background.