Outlaw Rum Co-Founder Jim Ashley (Interview)

Published by The Rumlab ago about the Outlaw company

Outlaw Rum Co-Founder Jim Ashley (Interview) article cover image

By Jose Hoffmann

1. Who is Jim Ashley?

Having lived abroad with work and show the family a different part of the world, a different culture, we were to be relocated back to the UK.  We set up as a family in NW Aberdeenshire.  But from our time in Trinidad and Tobago, why has the UK only got low end spiced rum – not a sniff of the premium cask matured Rum?  Where is the premium rum which is as good as a single malt if you could get the right bottle?  The old guard is there in Havanna Club, Ron Zacapa and Mount Gay, on a good day if you can find it but where’s the really good premium Rum?  The “Lightbulb” moment, could we set up a small business bringing in a rum that would be competitive with single malts and add texture, richness, a longer more complex finish to an already great stand alone spirit.

Both Pat and I are still in the Oil field and discussing the future, both former rugby players, both on the mischievous end of the spectrum (in our obvious objective eyes anyway) have we got something here – premium cask aged Rum matured in Aberdeenshire bonded warehouse in the renowned single malt whisky casks.  It’s intriguing. We build from that point and 2years later we have our 3rd shipment about to arrive of cask aged blended Rum to our specific charcateristic requirements – 3, 5, 7 and 10-11 year old bespoke Outlaw blend ready for it’s second maturation.

2. What does the rum mean for you? What made you fall in love with rum and when did it happen?

My family and I lived on secondment in Trinidad and Tobago for 4.5years and enjoyed the culture, still have great mates there, as well as understanding that there are levels to Rum.  Similar to where we had come from and returned too, the Premium spirits are cherished and there is real pride in the best finished traditional matured spirits.

3. Three essential characteristics that define the rum according to your perspective.

– Cane syrup or pedigree molasses based spirit.

– Traditional cask matured golden and amber Rum with bold and active nose.

– Long complex finish which is comparable to the best of the Scottish Single Malt Whiskies.

4. What is the most important contribution you have made in the rum industry?

Still to come.

5. Benefits that the rum industry has given you.

Opportunity to take on the traditional established businesses, ideology and single malt elite in their back garden.  New business ideas and ability to help bolster a flagging employment market. 

6. What´s another thing you are passionate about, in addition to rum? Why?

Sports and supporting sports clubs and events. It gives breadth and diversity to communities, but the more forgotten or less publicised sports – Strongman and strength competitions, Rugby for seniors and juniors, MMA, downhill mountain biking, snowboarding, x-country skiing, surfing.

7. What is your favorite place for drinking rum?

With friends in a social setting, home, bar, hotel, beach wherever.

8. Favorite drink + Recipe

Outlaw Rum Islay Cask special release, neat, no ice.

9. Why is it important to educate the rum consumer?

Rum has been and is still considered to be an inferior spirit versus the Scottish Single Malt Whiskies or higher quality blended Whisky. In fact Rum in it’s best expressions is equal to the “drams” of Scotland, Ireland and the finest bourbons of the USA.  As such I wanted to show Caribbean Rum, matured to our specifications in it’s best form to the international market.

10. Any tips to train the palate and taste a good premium rum?

As on our website we’ve created a Rum version of the rose plot as well as we’ve commenced online tastings to improve the knowledge and exhibiting the diversity Rum.  Myself and the #whiskyminister are also doing a couple of tasting sessions, comparing premium Rums and discussing theirs profiles and qualities, which will be posted on the YouTube channel and Facebook – https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=laYDFmAJCPj0&feature=youtu.be

11. How can the rum contribute to improve the crisis in some countries?

Diversity of industry and occupations is only a good thing.  By having a tradtional and premium spirit you have the opportunity to join in the international premium spirits market you increase jobs options, service business growth and improve the economic stability of an area.

12. Is the commitment to sustainable development the key of success for the permanence of the rum industry in the world? Why?

We need common sense to prevail globally and have sustainability in the markets as well as supply with an eye for diversity of product and agricultural supply of quality sugar syrup and mollasses.  Mass produced spirit can actually harm brands if quality and control isn’t managed appropriately.

13. Who would like to meet in the rum industry? What would you say to him/her?

I’d like to meet a lot of folk in the Caribbean and Central / South America. Have a honest conversation as well as learn about their particular culture, their lives and history of the area.

14. What are your next goals in the rum industry?

Make new markets and new international areas that are unaware of Premium Rum and just good it can be.  Yes I’ll be competing in the Single Malt space that’s where we aimed our flagship product right from the beginning.  We have sales already in Singapore and will be across the better know European markets by the summer this year and further prestigious UK businesses.  Further development of EU markets then Oz / NZ and the more East Asia markets.

15. Plans you have when you leave the rum industry.

I do not plan to leave and plan to assist local business regrowth as well bringing on other innovative businesses to NE Scotland.

16. Why is the role of the bartender important in the rum industry?

You are the educator and direct contact with the public and customers.  It’s a critical relationship which whilst not being a sales person can give people a qualified opinion on options and new flavours as well as what could suit the individual or groups palate.

17. What is your advice for new generations in the rum industry?

Don’t think it’s the next Gin craze, don’t follow fashion and make sure there is integrity at every stage of building your expression and business – spirit nose and taste, quality branding and media (which includes website) that is bespoke to yourself and link to your areas heritage.

18. How can people learn more about you? Website? Social media page?



Instagram and Facebook, Twitter – #outlawrum and @outlawrum