The latest spirit in Cornwall
- Credit: Cape Cornwall Rum Company
A farm which prides itself on diversification has now branched out further...by producing rum
In the far west of Cornwall, just four miles north of Land’s End, the small headland of Cape Cornwall is the point where the Atlantic Ocean’s current divides. Some of the water flows north into the Bristol Channel and the Irish Sea, and the rest becomes the English Channel.
Cape Cornwall was originally known as Kilgoodh Ust in Cornish. It translates as "goose-back at St Just", a reference to the Cape’s distinctive form. Life there has been traced back to the bronze age and is more commonly referred to in Cornish these days as Pen Kernow.
Bollowal Farm is perched 150 feet above sea level at Cape Cornwall, not far from St Just. The Thomas family has farmed the land since 1925 and Jeff and Harvey Thomas are the fourth and fifth generations to run the farm with the sixth generation, Rupert, coming on behind. Bollowal is home to an award-winning herd of pedigree red ruby Devon cattle and the hardy breed is perfectly suited to the exposed area.
The farm is also part of a higher-level stewardship scheme – a programme that rewards farmers for making extra steps to protect the environment. At Bollowal this helps to support a number of habitats and species including Cornish choughs. The number of choughs on the farm have increased dramatically in recent years as a result.
It’s almost a prerequisite for modern farm businesses to diversify, using any attributes to create additional income streams to support the core farming activities. Bollowal Farm is no different.
Harvey explains: “West Cornwall is truly special. Distinct prehistoric field parcels and traditional mixed farming contributes to a landscape that I care about deeply and is enjoyed by those that live in it and the many that visit.
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“Farming has become more and more financially challenging, and it has been essential to diversify to support traditional agricultural activities. We started this in 2016 with the first sympathetic conversion of a farm building into holiday accommodation. The barn wasn’t fit for 21st-century farm practices but now provides a much-needed income flow to the farm as well as to the locality through secondary spend.”
Harvey adds: “Diversification will give farmers the best chance to ensure that the unique landscape can continue to be protected and managed for everyone to enjoy”.
In 2019 Harvey, along with long time school friend, Jack Shannon, established the Cape Cornwall Rum Company at Bollowal as the latest diversification. The production of artisan, small-batch rum might be a new enterprise but the inspiration behind it is deeply rooted in the farm’s past and the legendary local smuggling folklore.
Harvey explains: “Way back in 1925 when the family moved to the farm, my great-great-grandfather was very surprised to discover bottles of alcohol mysteriously built into the walls of the farm cottage.
“Legend has it that to avoid high government taxes, rum and other goods were often smuggled into Cape Cornwall by boat, navigating the treacherous seas and coastline, and stored in a farm building known as 'The Wink’.
“The story motivated us to create the Cape Cornwall Rum Company and we now use that very same building to carefully age, mix, spice and bottle the specialist rums here on the farm.”
Wide-scale smuggling is now a thing of the past but in the late 1700s, that practice was rife. It provided those in the sparsely populated remote Cornish communities with a more lucrative living than fishing or farming offered. The prized contraband included rum from the exotic islands of the West Indies that had made its way from the other side of the Atlantic.
Currently, there are three premium rums that Harvey and Jack lovingly create, and they are all based on blends of various cask-aged Caribbean rums that have been finely combined with spring water sourced at Cape Cornwall.
The Cape Cornwall Spiced Rum is flavoured over time on the farm with adventurous spices, including vanilla, Cornish saffron, and nutmeg to mention a few.
“If you are looking for a warming spirit, then our spiced rum is for you. It lends itself perfectly for a spiced twist in a Mojito,” adds Harvey.
The brand’s Gold Rum consists of a Barbadian three-year-old rum further blended with five-year-old cask-aged rum from the Dominican Republic and other fresh rums. This combination provides chocolatey notes among the fresher, grassy flavours and can be paired perfectly with ginger beer.
The vibrant Cape Cornwall White Rum is built on a blend of two and five-year-old charcoal filtered white rum sourced from Trinidad.
You can find Cape Cornwall Rum at select retail outlets in Devon and Cornwall or you can order directly online with nationwide delivery available.