A terrible fire which destroyed her father-in-law’s toffee apple business inspired Katherine Jenner to launch a brand of rum that boasts not only a distinctive name but also a highly individual, winning taste
A craft rum brand that rose from the ashes of a barn fire on a family farm is taking the British spirits market by storm. Katherine Jenner launched Burning Barn Rum after the blaze wiped out her father-in-law’s toffee apple business in Solihull three years ago.
“Watching my father-in-law overcome the devastation of the business he had taken 35 years to build up and rebuild it again was inspirational,” said Katherine, pictured. “It inspired me and my husband Harry to start a business of our own.” Katherine had some knowledge of the drinks industry having previously worked for wine discounters and then for the Lidl supermarket chain.
She looked into rum after noticing a growing trend for dark spirits and dark craft beers in the US. “The gin boom was – and still is –in full swing in the UK but we could see an opportunity to bring something completely different to the market,” she explained. “We thought the choice of rums was very limited and that they tasted all pretty much the same.”
Katherine and Harry started off by experimenting with creating different flavours in their kitchen. They realised that they had found “something pretty amazing” after using apples to produce a smoked rum. But Katherine had some hurdles to jump before she could begin full production.
“The drinks industry isn’t an easy one to get into and we found quite a few barriers to entry along with compliance challenges to satisfy HMRC legislation for alcohol production,” she said. Burning Barn’s hero product is its Smoked rum, which is made using apple wood harvested from the farm’s old orchards. The brand’s Spiced rum is made by infusing hand roasted vanilla, coconut, all spice, ginger and chilli. Flavouring, filtering and bottling is all done by Katherine and Harry on the farm in Eastcote.
UK sales have grown steadily month-on-month since Burning Barn launched 10 months ago
earning a valuable listing with trade marketplace the Great British Exchange as part of its speciality alcohol range for retailers. “The drinks market is a very crowded market, so when we launched we were creative in getting our brand noticed,” said Katherine. “We sent out samples of our rum and used social media.”
Now, as well as being available to retailers through the Great British Exchange, stockists include Harvey Nichols, Not on the High Street, the Whisky Exchange and the Westmorland Family farm shop service stations in Tebay and Gloucester.
“Our Smoked rum works well in place of whisky in an Old Fashioned cocktail and the Spiced rum has been used a lot this summer as a fruit cup with ginger ale, lemonade and fresh fruit,” said Katherine. “We are proud to be bringing true craft flavours and innovation to flavoured rums and making sure rum drinkers don’t have to compromise on craft options.”
Such has been the immediate impact and success of Burning Barn that there will soon be a need to widen the brand’s appeal further.
“We’d love to do our own distilling, creating flavours using a wide range of rums,” said Katherine. “And we are talking about expanding in general, with a bigger site for production. Also, as we have done quite a lot of retail already, we’d love to get Burning Barn into bars as a rum of choice for drinkers.”
According to official figures, sales of rum are expected to exceed £1billion in the UK in 2018 – that’s just one year after gin sales hit the figure for the first time. With a brilliant brand name, excellent and unique tasting product and a history of achieving success from adversity, Burning Barn looks assured of becoming the toast of a booming industry in the months and years ahead.