Few of the independent bottlers supply themselves directly from the source, rare are those to whom certain distilleries open their doors in order to select directly from the cellars. I am thinking in particular of Chantal Comte and Velier who are the two perfect examples of this privileged situation.
So, how do the others get hold of what to make their blends or their selection of barrels? One of the more classic possibilities is to contact E&A Scheer in Holland which offers a wide choice of white rum and older rums.
I therefore suggest you discover this more hidden side of the world of rum, the broker. The most “simple” link between the distillery and the bottler in the end. Interview with Niels Benschop in Holland.
Could you introduce E&A Scheer to us ? When do you start the activity, and what’s the business ?
We have a history dating back to the 18th century when the brothers Evert and Anton Scheer started their business. Starting to sell goods to the East- and West indies, then bringing back all sorts of products and ending up being the sole importer of Batavia Arrack. We are still using Batavia Arrack but have for a long time been focused on Rum, Cachaça and Batavia Arrack; buying, blending and selling bespoke Rum blends to our customers.
We source from over 25 distillers world wide buying Rum in bulk. We help distillers, as we buy large quantities and thus provide them with cash to invest in their own brand and operation. Besides this we also make their lives less complicated by working with all their customers on smaller quantities.
Holding large quantities of Rum in Amsterdam we provide our customers with tailor made recipes (Bespoke Rum blends) and this way provide them with constant supply of consistent quality at any price.
Besides this we also buy rare and old casks to be sold at The Main Rum Company in Liverpool, this is our “treasure cove”.
You are not “only” a broker of rum, but you are blenders too. Can you explain us how do you proceed ?
We do not think of ourselves as brokers. We are Rum blenders. Over the years we created over 35.000 custom made recipes for our customers. We typically receive questions from our customers via our online blending tool. www.rum.nl/blending-tool .
This takes our customers through a number of questions (marketing buzz words, origin, colour, flavor profile, age,etc) to determine the exact “blending target”. After receiving this target, we contact our customers to see if everything is clear. Once we agreed on all, our master blender makes a few samples that fit that target and send these for feedback.
In the last step we agree on the final recipe which is then set up in our system, making sure we can always duplicate the same recipe.
How do you manage your orders to the distilleries… do you need exact profiles of rums, exact quantities or do you “receive” directly the bulk ?
In general we buy different marks from our distilleries in bulk in ISO tanks holding 24.000 liters per type. We buy young Rums and also Rums aged at origin, typically up to 8 years.
Buying directly from distilleries means there can always be slight differences between production batches (due to production setting, temperature, humidity etc). To get a consistent quality we always blend incoming batches (our Primary blend). Next we make a second blend (our intermediate blends) containing up to 8 different marks.
This we do to ensure constant supply to our customers. Just imagine a tornado hitting on of our distillers, or a Covid virus closing down countries. The intermediate blend gives us the flexibility to deal with these kind of natural disaster and thus eliminates the so called “single distillery” risk.
We always advice our customers to use these blends in the final blend.
At The Main Rum company we buy both Rum in (original) cask or in bulk which we use to fill up our own casks. All casks there have a “curriculum vitae” telling you exactly when distilled, where aged etc. .. .
Who are your customers ? Of course, Independent bottlers but I figure you have more than them ? Who need rum and what kind of rum ?
Besides the obvious independent bottlers, and many independent Rum brands we deliver also to other industries, such as Flavour & Fragrance Industry, Confectionary and Tobacco, who make use of all the flavor components Rum has to offer.
How big is your stock of aging barrels and how do you manage that ? What the oldest barrels in stock ? What are the most represented distilleries on your entire stock ? Hampden, Foursquare, Long Pond and TDL ? Have you some Caroni in stock ?
Our inventory of rare and old casks is substantial, we hold casks in several locations in UK, EU and also at Origin with a range of ages from fresh up to over 35 year old Rums.
All distilleries you mention are certainly represented and more. We consider the range to be ‘wide and deep’ in styles and ages.
In the beginning of 2000, Caroni was entirely sold and Angostura, Velier and Bristol bought the barrels stock, Did you receive any informations about that ? Did you catch some casks or nothing at all ?
Obviously in our position as Rum specialists and customers of that distillery when it was still producing we have always been well aware of the Caroni Rums and inventories.
We have indeed taken our share and still hold casks of Caroni for release in the future. The Rums are very sought after these days as they are produced at a ‘closed distillery’ and the laws of supply and demand result in interesting prices.
What would be your best souvenir… what was the best barrel you’ll ever sold and the one you are most proud of it ?
Every cask we sell we are really proud of, every cask has it’s own story and history which the new owner will be using to create a product which fits their markets.
We can not say which one is best, that would be like asking us which of our children we love better than the other … no answer !
We see since some years some prices becoming more and more expensive… Who are “guilty” ? Brokers and distilleries or Bottlers or… everyone 🙂
As in any other market nobody is guilty of price developments, it is merely a matter of cost inputs, demand and supply.
As blenders we take our role serious and try to avoid big sudden price changes. And as said we can theoretically work towards every price point our customers are looking for.
Who can order rum by you ? Everyone who has legal documents can come to your office and choose rums to buy ?
Yes, we serve a whole and wide range of customers, from young start ups, to big spirit majors, to large flavor houses and customers in confectionary.
You have done a venture with Velier for showing the difference between 2 monymusk in tropical and continental mode… What do you think about this project ? Luca is someone really passionnate, and his talks about “true” rum that are aged in the tropics can be seen as someone “negative” about your work. How do you see that and what’s your reaction when discussing with him ?
The beauty about this project is that it shows that there are so many factors involved in creating a final Rum recipe, of which aging is only one. It shows the enormous diversity of flavors we get to work with. So we do not believe in words like “true” and “best”.
We believe in Rum to be the most diverse spirit of them all. Once you start learning about this, Rum is an endless source of surprises. Therefor we believe in the education of the end consumers.
Is there something else than rum in your warehouse ?
We are completely focused on Sugar Cane Distillates ; Rum, Batavia Arrack and Cachaça. We are aiming to keep this focus as there is still an incredible growth potential in the category and we love Rum too much.
How do you see the future of rum ?
As consumers are getting more and more educated they start to discover the rich flavor pallet of Rum, beautiful stories behind the products and the multiple ways of enjoying Rum.
Within the Spirits Industry, Rum has yet the biggest growth potential. If our customers keep on bringing new qualitative Rums to the market and share their stories the future looks bright