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Lancashire Times
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2:00 AM 9th July 2022
lifestyle

Interview With The Two Lasses

The Two Lasses, Rebecca Allinson and Lindsey Harrison – producers of Yorkshire’s finest rum.

What got you interested in rum?

We LOVE rum! Holidays to the Caribbean initially sparked our interest. The history of rum is fascinating with lots of characters and stories. It existed way before its first 17th century distillation and unlike other alcoholic drinks, its intention was purely to give pleasure to the drinker. We want to write our own story.

We’d always thought of rum as a spirit to be mixed in cocktails or to have with Coke but we now know it’s so much more than that. We started drinking spiced and flavoured rums and discovered a few firm , however we also felt that some of the spiced rums were too heavy on the spice for our taste. We also found some of the flavoured rums were a little artificial-tasting. So we set about creating what we think is a softer, more natural product.

Was making your own rum something that always appealed, or did it just come up?

We are an ambitious pair and over the years have casually chatted about creating something for ourselves. We are big foodies and into most things food and drink. We’ve talked about starting our own vineyard, opening a small charcuterie or creating our own gin but the idea that reappeared in most conversations was the creation of our own rum.

What is so special about rum – it’s blowing up massively right now?

It’s delicious…say no more!
It’s versatile and there’s something for everybody. From white rum which people regularly drink in cocktails, to aged dark/golden sipping rums.

And what makes YOUR rum so special and different?

It’s made in England. There are not that many truly British rums although that will change.

It’s made with our personality running through it. A smattering of Northern spirit, a feminine soft spice, a gentle sweetness and a gutsy 42% (alc vol).

Our rum is made from molasses which are imported but the fermentation starts in England. It is not a Caribbean rum that is reblended and distilled here. It is triple distilled which makes in smooth and warming, rather than sharp and burning.

Ultimately it is a sipping rum. We wanted to create something that could be drunk neat over ice without the need to mask the flavour with a Coke.

The rum is 42% abv which we believe is the sweet-spot for rum.

The flavours sound insane – it’s like you’ve taken the spiced rum idea and gone to town – was that the intention?

We initially set out to make a rum for us. We played about at home blending supermarket rum with different flavours. Spiced Rum has had a dubious history where it was seen as something a little less selective than an aged dark or golden rum. It originally started as a result of an error in the distillation process. How do you cover that up? Sweeten it and mask the base rum with some serious flavours! Obviously, things have now changed and there some excellently-spiced rums out but we set out to create something gently spiced.

Two of our favourite things are ginger cake and RUM! So we decided to try and merge the two. We also wanted to give a nod to our Yorkshire roots, taking the flavours of Yorkshire Parkin and adding them to our rum. Yorkshire Parkin for us conjures up autumnal nights in front of bonfires with our families. Yorkshire Parkin is gingery, oaty and a little sticky. Our Yorkshire Spiced Rum is like a big hug in a glass.

Our Chocolate and Orange Rum started much the same way as we were sat in our lounge eating chocolate while watching TV. The individual flavours could be easily identifiable - orange, nut and dark chocolate - so we set about trying to create a rum that allows the drinker the same experience. We haven’t created a sweet drink, this is very much a sipping rum to be enjoyed over ice. On the first sip you taste citrus and nuts, the dark chocolate offers a surprising end.

Rebecca and Lindsey
Rebecca and Lindsey
What’s your story, and the story behind deciding to create this brand together?

We are two Northern lasses with a bucket load of ambition and BIG dreams. We have different career backgrounds but a shared vision. We are partners in both life and business. We met in a crowded bar and over a period of a few months we managed to put on far too many pounds to mention, sampling at many food and drink festivals and venues laying the foundations for what has become Two Lasses Spirits!

After both having corporate careers and spending too much time talking about what we were going to do, the pandemic gave us the final kick to put our words in to action. We were sat on a Majorcan beach discussing our future plans when we logged on to Companies House and registered Two Lasses Spirits Limited.

It’s all about female empowerment, doing what you want and how you want – does that shine through in the rum for you?

Female empowerment to us is about encouragement. We are in our mid to late 40s, we have never run a business, never mind created a product and a brand. It’s been all about learning from the recipe creation, fermentation and distillation process, brand design, promotion, sales, social media and marketing. It’s been a huge learning curve.

We wanted to work for our dream and not somebody else’s. Seeing others like what we have created is paramount. Although this has not been easy it has been fun and we hope through our story we can encourage other women to fulfil their dreams, whatever they may be.

We have recently sponsored a women’s rugby tour and I’m sure there will be other events and activities coming up where we can show our support for the lasses of the world.

You’re taking a masculine drink and making it your own – does that sum up your ethos?

When we set out on this journey we wanted to make rum accessible to everyone. A lot of rum branding is based around pirates and the Caribbean. There isn’t anything wrong with that but we wanted to be different. Our branding is about the Two Lasses and the flavours in the bottle.

We have a range of rum drinks that can be served neat and sipped over ice, with a mixer or as part of a cocktail. Our liqueur range offers the same versatility.

Do you want to show other women they can do what they want in business, in life, in everything?

It’s important to be honest about who you are and what you want. It takes courage to own who you are and you have to believe in what you are doing and, more importantly, why. A lack of belief, courage and hard work are the only obstacles that we as women need to overcome.

Hopefully the Two Lasses and our brand can show women that no matter what their background, gender, sexuality, or age is, they can achieve their dreams.

Do you plan to develop more products and flavours?

Yes but we want to concentrate on the rum and the initial range. Botanical rum anyone?

Many rums import liquid from abroad, but yours is made from scratch in England – why was this important to you and can you explain the process and what you also are NOT doing to those who may not understand?

We wanted to be different. New rums are coming to market regularly, but these tend to be Caribbean rums that are modified in the UK. Creating a rum from scratch means we have complete control over the entire process and can ensure that we produce a quality authentic liquid. We can also control the provenance of the ingredients.

We take the molasses and begin the fermentation process in which the yeast basically turns the sugar to alcohol. That liquid then needs to be distilled, we triple distil our liquid, turning that original 200 litres into 25 litres of finished product. We work with a master distiller who performs the distillation cuts, ensuring we know when to start collecting and when to stop. It’s a very skilful process that takes years of experience and can’t be mimicked.

Sugar cane syrup ferments quickly and the alcoholic yield is high but its taste is quite frankly lacking. We didn’t just want to create a rum that we masked with flavourings. It was important that the unmistakeable taste of alembic distilled molasses - raisins and Christmas cake - shines through.

This seems a real passion for you both – you’re pouring your whole selves into this?

We are absolutely pouring our heart and soul into this. Wanting to do this has been a passion for many years. Why start something a) if you’re not passionate but b) if you’re not going to give it 100%. We currently live and breathe rum and we’re having a ball. We might be a fledgling company but we welcome the challenges that will inevitably make us stronger. We will succeed for us and our supporters.

The brand and identity are vital of course – what is the reaction so far to Two Lasses and who do people identify or relate?

Well - we are the Two Lasses who love molasses – a lot of people love the illusion the ‘W’ creates on our bottle, obviously intentional! We wanted the branding to be simple and elegant and we wanted all our range and various sizes to sit as one harmonious little family together on the shelf. Traditionally rum has been linked to sea-faring images with galleons, pirates and so on – we want our reach to be far more diverse, to lose the masculine associations and obviously appeal to a more diverse audience. We love going to food and drink festivals, finding customers who wouldn’t consider themselves rum drinkers and then converting them. We love engaging with people, explaining the process, the ingredients and watching their faces as the various flavours come alive. People genuinely seem delighted that it’s two ladies who are sharing their passion and that we are there sharing our rum. ‘You mean you made this?’ ‘You are the Two Lasses?’ ‘You’ve done this?’ these are the surprised comments we often hear – usually followed in true Yorkshire fashion with ‘Good on yer!’.

You’ve had good support from the LGBTQ+ community?

Yes. We haven’t attended any specific Pride events as yet but we have had online orders from the community who have then engaged with us, letting us know that it’s a gift for their better half or that it was the name that attracted them.

What about beyond that – are people embracing what you’re doing and the brand ethos?

All the feedback has been great, they like the fact we are different, its scratch, it’s two women, it’s brave. We should also mention that our Yorkshire Spiced Rum has just won a Gold Medal at the 2022 Spirits Business Rum and Cachaca awards. That award was blind-tasted and judged by the industry from experienced buyers, producers and mixologists – to be judged so highly alongside so many other entrants made us have a proper little dance around the room. More competition results are due soon and we can’t wait. We also won a Silver medal for our Yorkshire Spiced Rum at the London Spirits Competition and a Bronze medal at the IWSC awards for our Chocolate Orange Rum.

What does the future hold? What are the next steps?

Oh crikey, we have so many ideas – white rum, aged rum, botanical rum, flavoured rum – that’s the beauty right there. In a can, in a glass, over ice, with a mixer and on and on we go. Its so versatile! However, 2022 is dedicated to our Yorkshire Spiced, our Chocolate and Orange and their liqueurs. It’s understanding our customer and establishing ourselves out there on bartenders’ shelves and in drinks cupboards up and down the country.

What do you want to achieve with Two Lasses?

To have fun drinking rum, encouraging other women out there to push their fears to one side.

Nobody wants to look back and say to themselves – I wish I’d….

Anything else?

We are proud to be from Yorkshire but this shouldn’t define us.