Dark Matter is Scotland’s first and only Rum, made in a purpose built distillery in Banchory, between the Cairngorms and Aberdeen. Two brothers, Jim and John Ewen are behind the project and brought in Cory Mason - rum distiller at New York State’s Berkshire Mountain Distillers (to name one of his many exploits) - to help them set things up. The young Canadian distiller Gordon Russell is now in charge of the still which has been running for about a year.
The rum itself starts with the highest purity, refiner’s grade molasses - a standard of molasses almost unheard of these days in rum distillation. Following distillation, the all-important spices are added for a week-long infusion. The recipe stands out not just for the freshness of the ingredients but also the notable absence of vanilla. Dark Matter’s infusion takes in a swathe of hand sliced fresh ginger, fresh green peppercorns (plucked by hand from their stalks), hand crushed allspice berries, and Indian long pepper (a close relative of black pepper with a similar but spicier personality). Finally, to impart the ideal balance of sweet and spice, 60 g/l of refiner’s grade Molasses is added. The brothers have also added a twist on what bourbon distillers call ‘sour mashing’. By adding a small amount of spent ale to the molasses at the beginning of distillation, they have managed to instil further complexity into their spirit. No caramel colour is added. Regarding the still, Dark Matter uses a rare pot/column hybrid model made by John Dore & Co. Essentially, it’s a customised pot still with a ten plate copper column attached. The column allows Gordon Russell to realise a very pure, rectified spirit with 85% proof. The result of all this is a remarkable spiced rum made with only the finest ingredients and with an attention to detail that the big boys can only dream about