JimmyRum Distillery Founder & Distiller James McPherson (Interview)

Published by The Rumlab ago about the JimmyRum company

JimmyRum Distillery Founder & Distiller James McPherson (Interview) article cover image

By Jose Hoffmann

For James, rum has always been his spirit of choice. As a beer drinker, he had never warmed to any other spirit to change to after beer. With 20yrs working at sea and being a mad sailor for 35years, rum was bred into him and something he truly enjoys drinking. 

“While mainly drinking the local Bundaberg rum (love or hate it, it’s truly unique to Australia), I also loved to find new and exciting rums to try from around the world. Something that is very very hard to accomplish in Australia”, he said.

For him now, it’s the versatility of rum from the funky Jamaican, to the herbaceous French Rhum’s, to the barrel finish Mauritians and the soft Barbados rums. Every bottle is a journey. Meet more about James McPherson, JimmyRum Founder, and Distiller, in the following interview: 

TRL: Who is James McPherson?

I am the founder and Chief ideas man behind JimmyRum Distillery. A distillery we’ve put together to show Australia what rum can truly be and to show the world how good Australian rum can be. My history is not in distilling or even hospitality (apart from being on the wrong side of the bar for probably far too many occasions). I am a Marine Engineer by profession, and it is something I had done for twenty years before I started JimmyRum.

The change of passion was set in motion by a love of all things rum and redundancy from the company I was working for. The idea to start the distillery was initially a joke to stop the questions like “where are you going after”, “will you still stay at sea” or “are you going to the new company”. To stop the questions, I simply said “I’ve had enough of this after 20yrs, I’m off to make rum”. This was fun for a month or so before I thought “hmmm I’m joking about this, but why can I buy craft beer all over the country, but not craft rum?” a little research and I found out it was possible to make craft rum in Australia, so let’s get to it!

That was about 6years ago and it’s been an amazing journey since, from world research trips (70 distilleries in 3 months) to purchasing, installing, and running our 1500ltr copper hybrid still “Matilda” to opening a 120 person cellar door and cocktail bar. It’s been a journey, to say the least! With lots more to come!

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

Sugar cane-based, sweetness, softness and depth not displayed in other spirits, and amazing versatility of complex flavors from subtle to incredibly bold

TRL: What is the most important contribution you have made in the rum industry?

Starting JimmyRum in Australia. We make and sell rum, but we have a passion to educate and change the countries view on all rum (not Just JimmyRum)

TRL: Benefits that the rum industry has given you.

A new passion, a new career, and a new life mission

TRL: What’s another thing you are passionate about, in addition to rum? Why?

Family, Sailing, and Fast Cars.  

– Family is what keeps others together, it’s what I do everything for

– Sailing, to me there is no better escape, no better team bonding experience, and no other experience that can be so diverse.

– Fast Cars…I may just love the rush!

TRL: What is your favorite place for drinking rum?

On a yacht with friends

TRL: Favorite drink + Recipe

Presently I have 3 I change between.

– Hemingway Daiquiri with our Navy unaged rum (cane spirit)

– Pinot Sour with our world-first Pinot rum (cane spirit)

– Pear Punch, a simple mixer of our Navy and a pear n cinnamon soda (plus a cucumber garnish to make it sing)

TRL: Why is it important to educate the rum consumer?

In Australia they just need to know they have options, they do have to just drink mass-produced products, they can find easy-drinking to massively complex rums out there. “it’s not possible to not like rum…you just have to find the right one”

TRL: Any tips to train the palate and taste a good premium rum?

Perseverance, spend time with the product, share it and talk with others about what you are experiencing. The biggest key is to prepare the pallet, ensure you nose it well and in different ways, so your mind is ready for what is to come.

TRL: How can rum contribute to improving the crisis in some countries?

Rum makes better friends?…this is a tough one to answer in short written form as I am not sure of the particular crisis you are referring to. However, in many a tropical country sugar cane can be a great source of economic growth for both sugar and rum production. “Drink more rum to help others survive and grow”… is a phrase that could save a country

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

Not just the Rum industry, but all industries. We can’t just keep taking from the planet, we must manage and give back. We do whatever we can to minimize our environmental footprint

– Non-bleached and recycled packaging

– Bagasse labels and straws

– Closed-loop cooling

– Solar power (soon to be installed)

– Waste (dunder) to feedstock where possible

There are lots more we need to do to give back to the planet and stop the strain on resources. This is something at the core of what we do, and we will always work to minimize our impact.

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

Everyone! Being stuck here in Australia, it is difficult to meet rum personalities. I admire plenty and have met a few, but really, I like to talk with all rum lovers to gain little bits of information from any of the producers, the critics, or the fans. A couple I have briefly met, but always love to talk more with:

– Richard Seale

– Maggie Campbell

– Joy Spence

– Luca Gargano

TRL: What are your next goals in the rum industry?

To get Australian craft rum to the level of awareness of craft gin or craft beer and to get our continuous still installed and producing rum to the volumes we need to sell Australian Rum to the world.

TRL: Plans you have when you leave the rum industry.

Maybe sail the world for a few years, finding costal rums that are only made by the locals

TRL: Why is the role of the bartender important in the rum industry?

They are our voice, they tell and educate the public about rum and our products, they show the public what can be done and what can be done with different rums. This is why we spend so much energy educating bartender on our product and our distillery.

TRL: What is your advice for new generations in the rum industry?

Get out there and get amongst it! Whether you are a consumer or a producer, just do what you love and play with rum

Enjoy about James McPherson, JimmyRum Founder and Distiller at: