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Hearts & Crafts Rum Cask Q&A

This year marks the launch of our limited edition Hearts & Crafts Rum Cask Single Malt Whisky, the third whisky to be released in our yearly Hearts & Crafts collection. 

Read on to find out more about our latest whisky expression in this exclusive Q&A with our founder, Daniel Szor.

Q: What's the inspiration behind the Hearts & Crafts collection?

A: This collection takes its name after the ‘heart’ cut of the spirit run during whisky production and the well-known 19th century Arts & Crafts movement which flourished in the Cotswolds and placed great emphasis on traditional craftsmanship - the same values upon which our small but perfectly formed distillery was built. 

The Cotswolds had strong links to the movement and the beautiful charm of the area epitomised the rural, pre-industrial way of life which urban followers of the movement had been longing  for. The revolutionary British designer and leader of the movement, William Morris, whose beautiful patterned designs we use to  decorate our Hearts & Crafts tubes, would spend much of his time at his Cotswold country retreat, Kelmscott Manor, and nearby Chipping Campden even became home to the Guild and School of Handicraft, one of the most important Arts and Crafts workshops of the time.

Q: What made you choose this group of casks in particular for the third Hearts & Crafts expression?

A: The first two releases in our Hearts & Crafts collection were fully-matured in wine casks – Sauternes for the first release and Pineau des Charentes for the second – and we wanted to mix things up and go with a spirit-seasoned cask for a change. When we sampled this small parcel of casks for the first time, we knew right away we had something special on our hands and the rest was history!

Q: Where do you source your rum casks?

A: These rum casks come from the same wonderful cooperage partners in France from whom all the casks used in our previous Hearts & Crafts expressions were sourced. They have a reputation for quality work and sourcing only the best barrels, which in this case are ex-red wine barriques (225l) which have previously held Caribbean rum. 

Q: How does the Caribbean rum cask influence the flavour of this whisky?

A: I’ve been let down in the past by several whiskies I’ve tried which have been 'finished' in rum casks – I’ve found the rum influence on the whisky fell way short of my expectations. This may be because finishing typically involves a relatively short period of time, whereas all of our whiskies so far have been derived from full-term maturation which in this case means that our new make single malt spirit has gone straight into the rum casks and has lived its whole life in rummy happiness. The result is a very sweet, intense, and yet excellently balanced dram, one of the most moreish I believe we’ve ever made. 

Q: What should people notice when drinking this whisky?

A: As always, I hope people appreciate the balance of the whisky, namely the balance between the wonderful flavour of the distillate and the effect of the cask-ageing – ideally neither should dominate, but rather they should come together to produce a harmonious flavour experience.   

Q: Do you have any serve suggestions? 

A: For me, the best way is a small, neat dram after dinner. 

Q: Are there any specific reasons for choosing the William Morris design on this new expression?

A: We are lucky in that William Morris was certainly prolific in the number of designs he created, and here we were also looking for diversity and something that differed from the first and second edition. The warm earth tones of this year’s designs seem to perfectly match up to the warmth and mellowness of the rum cask-matured whisky.