The Diary: What a rum idea...

O'Hara's Rum
O'Hara's Rum
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WHEN it comes to drinks, Sheffield’s many breweries mean it is often called the real ale capital of the UK.

But these two city entrepreneurs are in good spirits after setting up a rum company here -some 4,000 miles from the beverage’s traditional home in the Caribbean.

Andy O’Hara and Adrian Keogh spent 18 months experimenting with different recipes and ingredients at their London Road HQ to create O’Hara’s Spiced Rum.

And now, three months after unveiling their sugarcane-based booze, things are looking pretty sweet. The pair are selling some 200 bottles every week across South Yorkshire and have their sights set on conquering the national market.

Cheers to that.

“You don’t associate rum with our region but why not?” says Andy, who owns The Cremorne pub, in London Road. “I’ve worked in the bar industry for years and I’ve always thought there was a gap in the market for a rum aimed at the 18- 25 market. I figured if no-one else was going to fill that, I should.”

So he and pal Adrian, a facilities manager, have done.

“My day job is basically trying to get a few pence knocked off the price of toilet roll,” explains 41-year-old Adrian. “I thought this sounded more exciting.”

They don’t, it should perhaps be clarified, make the drink here.

“I think people have visions of us distilling the molasses in the bath,” says Andy, of Osborne Road, Nether Edge. “That’s not how it works.”

O’Hara’s, see, is a mix of three different base rums and several flavourings. Those bases are made in Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago, then shipped to the Netherlands for blending, then imported to Essex where lime and vanilla flavours are added.

“But I think we can say it’s sort of made in Sheffield,” says Andy. “This is where we created the recipe.”

That recipe should be good, by the way: it was a year and half in the forming.

“Hard work,” notes Andy. “We tried 180 different vanilla essences alone - we wanted to make it absolutely perfect. But I’d be lying if I said the tasting wasn’t fun.”

Flavour consultants at Sheffield Hallam University were also called in to help.

“The reaction has been phenomenal,” says Adrian of London Road. “We got a text from a manager at Plug nightclub saying it was her new short drink and long drink.

“It’s nice when you’re stood in a bar and someone orders it. You think ‘I’m responsible for your hangover in the morning’.”

Bizarrely, the only person who hasn’t liked it so far is Andy’s accountant.

“But what does he know?” asks the 41-year-old.

And their ultimate aim now is to take the drink global. That’s why they gave it the Irish-ish name and the colourful logo.

“Both are quite universal,” explains Adrian. “Ultimately we’re ambitious. We want every bar in the country to sell O’Hara’s by 2014.”