The Hayman family today announce the upcoming launch of Charles Merser & Co. – London’s first rum blending house for over one hundred years. Based from a four-story merchant’s house located just off the Strand and moments from the River Thames, the new brand will follow in the traditions of London’s late, great rum blending houses by sourcing, blending, marrying and bottling a range of aged Caribbean rums from the heart of the capital.
Explaining the motivation behind the new brand, James Hayman comments:
“For over one hundred years, the streets of London were home to a bustling network of merchant rum blending houses. The merchant’s skill lay not in distilling but rather in the sourcing, blending and secondary maturation of the rum. Our family was involved in the trade for some time – sourcing stock from West India Docks to create our own proprietary blends. We’re proud to play a role in bringing the lost craft of rum blending back to the city.”
The move marks a new phase for the Hayman family, who are best known for their eponymous range of gins.
Explaining the link between English Gin and London Rum, Brand Director Jonathan Gibson comments:
“Over recent years, people have come to understand the important role that gin has played in London’s social history but rum’s story remains untold. London was for a long time at the heart of the global trade in rum, with blending houses playing a vital role in creating the finished rums that were widely enjoyed in the 18th and 19th Centuries. With Merser’s we aim to explore that history, to bring back those lost traditions and to encourage a renaissance of interest in London rum.”
The project has been a major development – involving the creation of a London bonded warehouse for secondary cask maturation and the restoration of a 19th century merchant’s house from which the brand will prototype its blends, entertain trade and host consumer tours. The historically-informed Merser’s brand sets out to celebrate the layers of flavour that a traditional approach to rum blending can bring.
Explaining the method, James Hayman comments:
“We have taken great pains to make our London rums the same way they were made here over one hundred years ago. We source the best Caribbean rums we can find, we blend them to create balance, nuance and layers of flavour and then we marry them in cask – right here in London – for a period of months just as our predecessors did. We do not add sugar, flavours or colour. What you see is a natural product of distillation, careful blending and cask maturation – distilled in the Caribbean but very much made in London.”
The standout packaging has been carefully developed to tell a story about London’s historic connection to rum.
Explaining the design, Jonathan Gibson comments:
‘The pack is a celebration of London’s rum blending heritage. The dimpled texture of the bottle is a nod to the dappled surface of the River Thames, along which barges were once used to transport casks of rum to blending houses such as ours. The hound and post logo harks back to a time when the majority of Londoners were illiterate and would find their way to merchant houses by means of symbols. And the name itself is an old English occupational surname – literally meaning ‘merchant’ it is an allusion to the mercantile rum blending traditions that we are proud to bring back.”
Merser’s Double Barrel launches in the UK in October at an RRP of £38 with a listing in Waitrose and further blends to follow over the coming months. Merser’s blending house will be opened to trade and consumer guests from mid-October. The brand will be distributed in the UK by Symposium.