Rum with an Anglo-Saxon twist

Essex based Hroda Spiced Rum is made at Charles and Mike Distilling. It’s an interesting drop, and the story of Hroda is an interesting one too. I took a few minutes to chat to one half of the Charles and Mike team, Mike Tyler, to find out more about it.

Tell me a little bit about yourselves. What are you like, how
do you know each other, how did you get into making spirits?

Charles and Mike Distilling, aptly named after us (very creative!) was born from an experimental hobby that grew into so much more during a time of furlough. We are two friends, who met through our work for a large corporate company in the drinks sector alongside companies such as Diageo, Pernod Ricard, Ian Macleod, Bacardi and many more. Whilst I was working in a commercial office role, Charles was working in a sales facing role. We were invited to go on a Christmas party with Halewood wines and spirits to the City of London distillery and created our very own bottles of gin. This sparked a passion for creating spirits in us both, so we set out to get ourselves
a little still and a rectifiers license with the
intention of making a Ginspresso. I think we put about £50 each in, purchased a little still and from there C&M distilling was born! We call it an experimental hobby as at the time we had no idea it would become what it has today, and we have had some shocking results in those early days with rather eager juniper quantities. Fortunately, we have some very honest, but supportive friends and family members willing to taste test almost anything to help get us to where we are today. When furloughed, the experimental side became a bit more extensive, and the current London Dry expression was born. We entered it into the gin guide awards with very little expectation and were completely overwhelmed when we discovered we were a finalist and highly commended in our first attempt. Since then, the business has just grown and grown, I’m very grateful to everyone’s support over the last few years to now being able to commit to the business full time.

You make gin and run a gin school. What got you into making rum?

Rum has always been a favourite drink of ours alongside Cognac and Whisky, so there was always a natural draw to produce our own at some stage and our long-term goal is to have a full catalogue of spirit brands, not just gin. Having spent the last 2 years building upon our Big Seven range and coming full circle to inviting others to learn with us at the gin school to make their own spirit it felt like the right time for a new spirit. The Hroda spiced rum was a long time coming, we felt like we had been talking about it for months, but we also wanted a quality flavour without rushing it. It’s taken about 9 months to ensure we got the right balance of flavours, however, not one to ever stop experimenting I may have gone a little crazy with aging some rum with scotch whisky staves. We’ll keep you posted on how that goes!

Can you tell us the story behind the name?

We’re very proud to be an Essex based company, so it was important for us to link into our local area and showcase the beautiful surroundings of the distillery. We did quite a bit of research on this to get the right name and the more we read about the history of our area the more interesting it became with the Anglo-Saxon heritage. I went out and had a walk around the area, checked out the local churches and older buildings that all had a rich Anglo-Saxon history from the area and Essex itself. Upon a little more research, we found the Hroðingas led by Hroða - The Anglo-Saxon settlers who had made their way to the start of the River Roding near Barking where it meets the Thames. These settlers made their way along the river finally settling in a collection of villages now known as The Rodings. The Rodings, a total of 8 villages, still to this day is the largest collection of villages in the UK that shares a common name. Our Hroda Spiced Rum is named out of tribute to these settlers and The Rodings as we know them today.

Where did you find that story and how did you come to use it for your brand?

A lot of local research, visiting sites, speaking to locals and online research to piece the gaps together.

Where do you import the rum from, can you give me areas and flavour notes?

When it comes to importing Rum, where better than its considered birthplace – The Caribbean! Like our Gin, we wanted to produce a Rum with a Whisky/Cognac character that has a lasting note on the palate so our base spirit is a Barbados light rum which has a sweet sugarcane note on the nose and ever so slightly liquorice but sweet tone on the palate that works in perfect harmony with our spices added.

What's the process when the rum gets to you? Can you tell me about the spices, why you've used them, how long they're macerated for?

Initially we must get the alcohol percentage down just to be drinkable. We take our base spirit down to the required strength using a food grade water before moving on to the spices. From this point we add Maple syrup as a natural sweetener, an idea that came to us when speaking with my dad in Canada. It was an important factor to find a natural ingredient instead of anything artificial, we want people to enjoy the experience of drinking Hroda and taste the spirit without masses of artificial flavourings or sugars. Mead was a big drink for the settlers (well the wealthy ones anyway!) too so we wanted to have that kind of honey connection. We then add a selection of spices that the Anglo Saxons would use to flavour some of their foods such as Cinnamon and ginger (both of which were imports of the Anglo-Saxon community) before leaving the Rum for around 1 month. Like everything in the distillery, we take samples from to “test/enjoy” before finalizing the batch.

Please can we have some flavour notes?

Our Hroda Spiced rum on the nose has a distinct maple tone, on the palate you get an initial vanilla with a hint of banana, that is followed by a bitter dark chocolate tone and spicy cinnamon note to finish. Pairs perfectly over ice or accompanied with a little ginger ale.

Please can you tell me some recommended serves?

We have the Settler's Ruin, a beautiful serve which uses both our Big Seven Persian lime and our Hroda spiced rum, a Cuba libre or simply serve over ice!

40ml Big Seven Persian Lime
25ml Hroda Spiced rum
60ml Pineapple Juice
25ml Campari
25ml Lime Juice
25ml Simple syrup

Add all to shaker on ice 10 second shake. Pour into glass with Ice.

Anything else you'd like to add? The floor is yours!

The small business happy dance is real, we appreciate every follow, review and bottle sold so thank you for taking the time to ask us about our story and featuring us. This is still just the beginning for Charles and Mike Distilling and hope you’ll all join us on this adventure as we continue to grow and develop our spirits. Don’t forget to tag us in your stories, we love to see and hear how others are serving their Hroda’s!

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Bernadette Pamplin

Bernadette loves rum. She set up a gin focused blog Under The Ginfluence eight years ago. Since then, her passion has naturally spread from gin, to rum and other spirits too. You can find work from her on Gin Magazine, Distiller Magazine, and Spirits Beacon, as well as content for  The Gin Guide.

She’s also the editor of Rum’s the Word, writing articles on rums featured in the box, as well as other rum related topics. Bernadette has built up six years experience in judging for events like Gin of the Year, World Gin Awards, Spirits Business Awards, Gin Guide Awards, IWSC and the American Distilling Institute Judging of Craft Spirits and works behind the scenes, assisting with organising and participating in panels for the Craft Distilling Expo.