Produced in Cornwall, Mainbrace Premium Spliced Rum (“spliced” not “spiced”) is a new brand that fuses unaged agricole from Martinique with aged Guyana rums. Intrigued by this unusual recipe – the first brand bottling that we know of that blends these two styles – we take a look at how this new rum came about.
How Mainbrace came into being
As holds true for many of life’s greatest ideas, Mainbrace owes its inception to a day spent in the pub.
The story goes that David and Richard Haigh were sitting in The Ferry Boat Inn in Cornwall’s Helford Passage, watching crews of gig rowers enjoying some drinks after a race, when they decided that they wanted to create a drink that reminded people to celebrate the small moments in life and raise a glass to teamwork. The pair enlisted the help of Liam Jones, then-bar manager at the Ferry Boat, and set about on an 18-month journey to develop a rum that could be enjoyed in both a cocktail and on its own.
“Splice the mainbrace” is a naval term that originates from the order to issue an emergency repair aboard a ship in the heat of battle. This was a difficult but vital task; if the sailors succeeded, they were rewarded with a double ration of rum. The phrase then became a euphemism for authorised celebratory drinking.
Also the name of a small fishing village in Cornwall, which is rumoured to have been a local hotspot for the smuggling of illegal rum, “Mainbrace” seemed to the Haighs like a fitting title for their new venture.
Mainbrace Premium Spliced Rum is a blend of unaged rhum agricole from Martinique’s Distillerie La Favourite and two-to-five-year-old molasses rums from three different stills in Guyana. Agricole-Molasses blends aren’t new to the rum world. That Boutique-y Rum Company’s Signature Blend #1, marrying Martinique and funky Jamaican rums, as well as Damoiseau Rhum Vieux Millesime 1995’s 50% agricole, 50% molasses based distillate, are amongst such notable expressions. However, Mainbrace is the first of its kind to couple Martinique and aged Guyana rums together as its primary focus.
La Favourite was established in 1842 and is well-known for its punchy agricoles, even at low abvs. Powered on a closed loop system that uses the bagasse (excess fibres remaining after the sugarcane has been crushed) to fuel its furnaces, the steam created is used to distil its rhums – a unique point on Martinique as it is the last distillery to work purely from steam.
On the Guyana side of things, the molasses rum blend is crafted from three of Demerara Distillers’ famed stills, before being aged between two to five years – in essence, making a kind of Navy rum to be mixed with the unaged agricole. The first part of the molasses blend comes from a double wooden pot still in Port Murant that has been making rum for the navy since the 19th century. The second owes its character to the salvaged Enmore Sugar Estate wooden Coffey still – the last of its kind in the world – and the final piece of the puzzle harks from an original four column French Savalle still, dating back to the 18th century.
The rum is spliced, with no sweetener or colouring added, and decanted into bottles that mimic the shape of the old rum barrels used to serve out the daily rations.
Tasting Notes – Mainbrace Premium Spliced Rum
Toffee, chocolate-covered raisins, caramel, green apples, cinnamon, dried pineapple, redcurrant. As we nose deeper, we pick out some fresh ginger, a hint of clove and a prickle of nutmeg
Very clean and easy-drinking on the initial palate. What starts as gentle caramel and fresh agricole notes, develops into richer toffee, spice and a residual grassy character. The Guyana rums temper the agricole’s green notes with their slightly oilier texture and richer profile. The finish is longer and spicier than expected
If you like your lighter styles of rum that still have a little something to say, this is one for you to try neat.
Mainbrace is also great for cocktails. Why not try it in a refreshing highball or New Fashioned (recipe below).
New Fashioned Cocktail Recipe
10ml apple cordial
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Garnish with dried (or regular) apple
Add the cordial, Chartreuse and bitters to a glass. Add half the Mainbrace and a handful of ice cubes. Stir and add the remainder of Mainbrace until the desired taste. Garnish with dried apple.