Underdog Spiced Rum

Underdog Spiced Rum

Craft Rum Box | Underdog Spiced Rum

Underdog Spiced Rum is the creation of husband- and-wife founders Andrew and Emma Whiting. The duo had spent some time traveling in the Caribbean, which involved a lot of time sailing. They were inspired to create a rum with a different story, so launched their own that was a bit of fun, still tasted great and importantly, helped towards a better planet.

The sustainable element is important to the brand and was incorporated through the product design with sustainable packaging, no plastics and labels made from 100% recycled content. They also support Rainforest Concern, an organisation dedicated to protecting these important natural habitats and the precious biodiversity they contain, together with the indigenous people who depend on them for survival. Rainforest Concern has been operating for 28 years, and across 8 countries they have helped to protect 2.2 million hectares of threatened forests.

The rum is 100% natural, and is a blend of 3-8 year old rums sourced from Trinidad, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic and blended in London. Then, the rum is lightly spiced with a signature blend of spices, and unlike some spiced rums there is no extra sugar added. The rum can be enjoyed neat, or with a mixer.

Andrew and Emma are travelling again, but Emma took a little time out to give us the lowdown.
Thanks for taking the time to join us! Can you tell us a little of the early days and what inspired you to make your own rum? My husband and co-founder has been sailing dinghies since he was a child. It was something him and his dad loved to do together. A number of years ago he took the leap into doing a Royal Yachting Association (RYA) course to be able to sail larger cruising yachts. That’s when I got involved – in the first year we chartered a boat in Croatia, filled it to the brim with friends and sailed the islands and inlets off the coast – Korcula, Vis, Hvar, Brac. Swimming off the boat by day and eating seafood by night, it was a truly magical experience. So we did it as much as we could! Greece, Turkey, Antigua – they were all incredible. We were hooked and never looked back.

Sounds amazing! Tell us about creating the rum, did it take a long time to get the recipe right?
The idea first came to us while sailing in Antigua! I certainly wasn’t always a rum drinker but we tried a few local rums on the island and felt they just paired perfectly with the sailing lifestyle. And it was there, after a few drinks, that we first discussed making our own rum. But our grand plans came to nought for a long time (although we did make a gin!) until 2020 when, many years and two kids later, we decided to go ahead and finally make our dream rum. It took two years of sipping (the most difficult part!) and tweaking – all in the midst of Covid lockdowns – to develop but was all worth it when we finally launched Underdog Spiced Rum in 2022.

And you settled on Trinidad, Venezuela and Dominican Republic rums for your blend, why did you decide on them?
We tried a lot of different of rums and garnered a lot of opinions from friends (and anyone who would listen) and realised that although the French style Agricole rums were unique, our love for rum would always be centred around Caribbean and South American rums. These are typically made with molasses (not sugar cane, like Agricole rums) giving them a rich and complex flavour, especially when aged. We tried a number of rums from a number of countries, but it was this blend of aged rums (most spiced rums aren’t aged at all but our rums are aged from between 3 and 8 years) that was sooo smooth and versatile – cocktails, neat, with mixers, you name it – that inspired us to bottle this bundle of goodness for others to enjoy too!

Your website says the rum is 'natural', what does this mean as a spiced rum? Spiced Rums often use strong artificial flavouring to mask the taste of an unaged rum that lacks its own flavour. Underdog is GMO free and has no artificial flavours or additives – only molasses (derived from sugar cane) distilled to create a rum, with all-natural spices added to arrive at our signature taste. Simple, and natural!

Can you share any of the spices in the spice blend? How did you come up with the recipe?
From the start we knew we both liked vanilla based rums, so it was always a given that a good dollop of natural vanilla flavouring would be involved. We then experimented with a few other additions and settled on ginger and...chilli! We were very surprised with the last addition, but these spices married together perfectly and really complemented our rum. It was very important for us – since we use quality aged rums as a base – for the spices not to be too prominent and to complement and accentuate, rather than overpower, the rum.

I love that no sugar is added, does it still have some sort of sweetness?
Yes, very much so. Most rum is made from molasses, which is derived from sugar cane. Ours is no exception. Most of the sugar is turned into alcohol during the fermentation process but some remains so there is some residual sweetness. We feel that the sweetness is perfectly balanced in Underdog. We believe that adding sugar (which most spiced rum producers do) destroys this balance, and masks the true, beautiful flavour of the rum.

Why the name, Underdog?
A friend of ours actually came up with it – he pointed out that we love underdogs
the less popular, the less obvious – so he said why not name our rum “Underdog”? We are passionate about supporting causes we believe in – many of which are connected with marginalised people, animals, or the natural world – and thought the name connected well with this and we thought that other like-minded souls would identify with it and our philosophy. So Underdog was born!

I love the label! Where did the idea of the design come from?
We wanted the label to be fun and whimsical (rum is a fun drink!) but also to make reference to the broader purpose of the brand – that we are doing our small bit to work towards a more sustainable future for the planet. And what is the most famous Underdog story of all? The hare and the tortoise of course!

There is a clear focus on sustainability from the start, can you tell us about that?
This is something we are truly passionate about so I was a very important consideration from the start in creating the Underdog brand. We wanted to do all that we could to make the brand as sustainable as possible, so at every turn asked ourselves – how can Underdog make less of an impact on the planet? And how can the brand best support the causes we believe in?

Can you tell us about the sustainable packaging?
Sure! We use 100% recycled content to create the labels, together with vegetable based inks. The glass used for the bottle 100% natural with a blend of 3-8 year old rums sourced from Trinidad, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic is one of the most sustainable materials available due to its ability to be reused and recycled. And finally, there is no plastic used in any of our packaging!

Craft Rum Box | Underdog Spiced Rum

Who are rainforestconcern.org, and how are you working with them?
Yes, they are amazing and we are passionate supporters of their work. Rainforest concern is a British charity protecting rainforests and other crucial natural habitats, working with communities and organisations across eight countries. Rainforest Concern protects threatened habitats by direct conservation on the ground, through the purchase of land for private reserves. They put in place ongoing management and protection measures, and support local communities, and also deliver environmental education both in their project areas overseas and in the UK. 10% of our profits from every bottle of Underdog sold go to supporting rainforestconcern.org so you can crack open a bottle knowing you are supporting incredible ecosystems thousands of miles away.

Anything else you'd like to add?
If you like Underdog, please give its sister brand, Far Reaches Gin (www. farreachesgin.com) a try! It’s inspired by our love of travel and has won a number of awards - including Best UK Spirit – for its delicious taste. We also hope to launch a new variant of Underdog in the future, but that’s a story for another day!

Great stuff guys! Thanks for taking the time to answer the questions in such detail! Up the Underdog!

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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.