Dropworks Rum Founder Lewis Hayes

Published by The Rumlab ago about the Drop Works company

Dropworks Rum Founder Lewis Hayes article cover image

Lewis Hayes is the CEO and Founder of DropWorks; a new British Distillery producing high-quality, modern rum. The DropWorks brand has been 3  years in the making and is born from a love of Rum and the belief that Rum should be fun! Not only that, but a focus on product quality throughout the product life cycle, including quality of ingredients, high spec equipment, packaging, and of course team expertise, such as Head Distiller Shaun Smith who has previously worked at / set up multiple distilleries around the UK.

Every Drop of Rum will be produced at the DropWorks Distillery, in Welbeck, Nottinghamshire. Designed by Lewis and the team, The Distillery will be the largest Rum Distillery in Europe, with the capacity to produce up to 10 barrels of Rum per day.

TRL: What does rum mean for you? What made you fall in love with rum and when did it happen?

I have loved Rum for decades. It is the broadest spirit category, but also the most misunderstood! Right now, is a really exciting time for the category – there’s a big movement happening on the British Rum scene and we are so excited to play a part in it.

The Rum that captured my heart was Zacapa 23 años (before its evolution with Diageo) – a delicious rum in my memory and one of the first rums to pull me into the category. I also enjoyed El Dorado, the entire range, and Foursquare rums such as the Doorly’s 12 – a great value Rum.

Truthfully, though, I love some of the bigger Rums that are out there, some of the older adulterated Rums from Guadeloupe are right up my street. Also, I have to say that I am a sucker for an independent bottler and anything by Samaroli or Velier always hits the spot.

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

Rum is one of the most versatile spirits there is, and that is why it isn’t easy to define.

There are rums that taste like vodkas, whiskeys, tequila – you name it! At DropWorks, we want you to experiment and find a Rum that you will love.

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

We are perfectly positioned to bring quality British rum to the masses. Because of our size and capacity, we are making it our mission to make quality Rum accessible for all.

We are also keen to show that there is a rum out there for everyone to enjoy. Rum is so versatile -you just have to find the right Rum, and potentially recipe, to suit your taste. Of course, we hope you will find a Rum you love within the DropWorks range as we launch more and more Drops in the coming months and years.

TRL: Benefits that the rum industry has given you.

The rum industry and hospitality in general, is such a feel-good community. I have found it to be incredibly supportive and positive and DropWorks aims to emulate that. We are all about positivity and we want to share that far and wide.

TRL: What’s another thing you are passionate about besides rum? Why?

I have had the pleasure of having a long career in hospitality, spanning decades; having run my award-winning bars in London, as well as my drinks consultancy business. What many people don’t know, however, is that I have a huge passion for the arts and actually used to be an actor. I am really excited to develop the DropWorks brand with the arts in mind, as this is such an incredible part of British culture and we have so much to be proud of. Watch this space!

TRL: What is your favourite place for drinking rum?

Honestly, Black Parrot and Merchant House, in London, house some of the best rum collections you will find in the UK – and the bar teams are very welcoming and know their Rum!! Trailer Happiness is also a long-standing favourite of many in the industry and Sly (The owner) has done an incredible job not just keeping it relevant but placing it front and centre on the Rum scene.

TRL: Favourite drink + Recipe

I typically drink my Rum neat so that I can enjoy all the nuances that the Rum offers, however, I am loving the DropWorks Clear Drop Rum simply mixed with cloudy apple juice and a splash of sparkling elderflower in the top – serve it long over ice. Anyone can make this. The proportions/ratios are unimportant here. Just make sure you put in a healthy Drop of rum!

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

I have always said that flavour is subjective, but the quality is not, and this is where the opportunity exists for DropWorks to share quality British Rum with our consumers. So flavour has nothing to do with it, what sort of person would agree that an apple is tastier than a strawberry, or vice versa- you might prefer one over the other but neither is superior, apart from tarragon, everyone knows that tarragon is one of the greatest herbs on the planet. I digress… So it’s about understanding and appreciating the quality of the spirit.

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

For me, it’s about appreciating how the Rum has come to life and I have learned to appreciate this simply by getting out there and experiencing them first-hand. Visiting Distilleries all around the world, learning about the heritage of the ingredients that go into them, and the process of how they come about. We are now so fortunate that you can do a lot of this right here in the UK as the British Rum scene is booming, so if you are keen to learn, you can do this without spending thousands of pounds.

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

We are a startup and I believe that we have a moral responsibility to work hard at being sustainable. We have invested in heat exchangers, to maximise our ability to shift heat from one volume of liquid to another, reducing the amount of energy required in our production process. We have insulated jackets on our tanks and our stills, again reducing our energy consumption. We have also invested in a closed-loop system with a fan chiller that is extremely friendly towards the environment and uses the ambient air temperature to cool down our liquid, much like a car radiator does. All of our “waste” liquid will be going to local farms, as the cows love the nutrient-rich dunder that we produce. We have invested in fully recyclable bottles and have chosen a lighter glass bottle to reduce CO2 in transportation, and we have also started a large format option to sell to bars and restaurants cutting out the excess glass in circulation. Our landlord is also extremely committed to sustainability and has multiple photovoltaic farms and thousands of acres dedicated to forestry.

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

Sustainability is undeniably important. The key benefit to Britain and the European market is that we massively reduce the carbon footprint of your rum as it isn’t tanked across the Atlantic. Like Scotch has done so well for centuries, we can make the most of our temperate climate to age our products.

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

I am fortunate enough to have met a good number of people across the Rum world, but I would like to get in a time machine and pick up Don the Beachcomber, drag him into this year, and take him for a drink at one of my bars, Black Parrot, or Merchant House. I think we would have a lot to talk about!!

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

DropWorks exist to share our passion for quality Rum and to show everyone that there is a Rum out there for them to enjoy. We are only just getting started on our journey.


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

There are definitely no plans to leave the rum industry! We have so much to get going with and we are only just scratching the surface with what we will offer long term. We will constantly be reinventing ourselves and offering new product Drops, so we see DropWorks being around for a very long time!

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

Most times, they are the voice of our brands. They tell a story and create an experience, developing such trust with their guests, so when the bartender passionately retells your story and your vision to their guests, it brings the brand to life. Also, good bartenders are magicians with liquid and can create delicious drinks for their guests that we couldn’t even imagine.

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

It is great to see so many younger rum drinkers entering the category, and in fact, about 50% of rum sales are now to the 18-34-year-olds! New generations in the industry will continue to shake things up and bring a fresh approach to the category, which can only mean it’s going to continue to develop and keep getting better and better.

TRL: How can people learn more about you? Website? Social media page?

There’s no better way to immerse yourselves into DropWorks than visiting our Distillery! You can book tours now via our website www.dropworks.co.uk and can’t wait to have you visit us.

In the meantime, we would love you to visit our website and we also have social media accounts where we post behind the scene content.www.dropworks.co.uk

https://www.youtube.com/@DropWorks https://www.linkedin.com/company/dropworks-distillery/ https://www.facebook.com/DropWorks.Distillery/