In a little street off the Strand in London, a fairly anonymous four-storey period townhouse is marked with only the ‘sign of the post and hound’. Behind that door though, lies some of the Caribbean’s best rums, waiting to be blended.
Welcome to Charles Merser & Co., the first rum blending house to be located in the square mile of London in over 100 years.
Utilising age-old traditions, the house will source the best Caribbean rums that can be found, blend them to create balance, nuance and layers of flavour and then marry them in casks. Merser’s has been designed to not only produce outstanding blends but also bring back the lost traditions, explore the history and encourage a renaissance in London rum.
“Our family was involved in the trade for some time, and we’re now proud to play a role in bringing the lost craft of rum blending back to the city,” says founder James Hayman.
If the name Hayman seems familiar, it should. Charles Merser & Co is the work of the Hayman family, who run Hayman’s Gin distillery. With an unbroken lineage, dating back to the original gin boom, the family also have strong ties to the original rum blending trade.
“For over one hundred years, the streets of London were home to a bustling network of merchant rum blending houses,” explained founder James Hayman. “It was at the heart of the global trade in rum. The blending houses playing a vital role in creating the finished rums that were widely enjoyed in the 18th and 19th centuries.”
Hayman explains that his family was involved in the trade, sourcing stock from West India Docks to create our own proprietary blends. And the family are now proud to play a role in bringing the lost craft of rum blending back to the capital.
“The merchant’s skill lay not in distilling but rather in the sourcing, blending and secondary maturation of the rum,” he said.
Hayman points out that while people have a growing understand the importance of gin in London’s social history, the family want to explore their roots and use those to explain the importance of rum to the history of London, which is a story that has mainly remained untold.
Hayman said: “We have taken great pains to make our London rums in the same way just as our forefather did. We do not add sugar, flavours or colour.
“What you see is a natural product of distillation, careful blending with cask maturation off-site. It is distilled in the Caribbean but very much made in London.”
Londoners will be able to peek inside and sign up for tasting tours to start at the end of the month on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings. Each 90-minute session will be £35 and including a welcome cocktail, a guided tour with a tutored tasting and blending class.
Merser’s first expression, their Double Barrel launches in the UK this month and will be priced at £38. It will be available through Waitrose and the website. Further distribution (including international), as well as further blends, will follow over the coming months.
For more information about the brand go to charlesmerser.com