NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Brothers who swapped oil industry to make rum land supermarket deal

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Media captionThe brothers began producing rum in 2015

Two brothers who quit the oil industry to start Scotland's only rum distillery hope to become global players after landing a major contract.

Jim and John Ewen set up Dark Matter Distillers in Banchory and production started last year.

BBC Scotland can reveal that Dark Matter has now secured a major supermarket deal.

The brothers hope the contract for their Spiced Rum can help them take on the "big boys".

Jim Ewen, 47, a petroleum economist, said of the company's origins during a holiday in April 2011: "We tried to visit three rum distilleries in the Dominican Republic and they all said no for unknown reasons.

"I jokingly said to my friend it would be a lot easier building one than seeing one.

"That night I literally woke up in bed with the Dark Matter words in my head and scribbled it down on a bit of paper."

He said it was all he could thing about, and the rest of their holiday was "ruined".

'Proper business'

He pitched the idea to his brother and he was "mad for it" so they teamed up.

They started to research why there were no rum distilleries in Scotland, but could not find out why.

Laboratory tests got under way alongside fundraising, before they decided to "risk everything".

The distillery was built in 2014, and production started in April 2015, four years after the idea was first born.

John Ewen, 44, a fire and explosion engineer, said: "Everything came together, we were not trying to get out [of the oil industry] but Jim always had an eye on doing something else.

"We have landed a deal with a big supermarket and in some ways that feels like we are starting to infringe a little bit on the big boys.

"Working here it's a bit like having Christmas Day every day, and it now feels like we're not just playing, it's a proper business, it's serious."

On the company website, the Dark Matter Spiced Rum is described as the "taste equivalent of warping into a liquid black hole but without every atom in your body being crushed to an infinitely small point".

A first batch of Scottish-distilled white rum is also currently in production.

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