Club Tropicana: Takamaka rum
The Seychelles might not be the first region that springs to mind when you think of rum, but brothers Bernard and Richard d’Offay are on a mission to put this tropical island on the map with their award-winning Takamaka.
Twenty years ago, brothers Bernard and Richard d’Offay pursued a personal passion project to create their own rum. Their vision was clear, to create a liquid that would capture their remote, tropical island home in the Indian ocean: the Seychelles.
And so, Takamaka was born. The rum is distilled at Le Plaine St André, a historical site that dates back to 1792, which was once the epicentre of agricultural activities on the island. Carefully restored, the site now houses the Takamaka distillery, a museum, bar and food truck.
“We were kids when we started,” laughs Bernard. “We had no real idea it would end up like this. We just wanted to move back to the Seychelles (from South Africa) and make something that people would enjoy.”
While there are a couple of local bottlers, Takamaka is the only distillery on the island. The brand produces a mix of pot and column still rums, molasses- and sugarcane-based bottlings, and also boasts a unique ageing programme, numerous barrel cellars with variable climates – plus, the distillery works with 25 farmers to source its raw materials.
“Over the past few years, we’ve really seen acceleration with the brand,” Richard enthuses. “Now, Takamaka is really starting to become what we hoped it would be maybe five or seven years ago – we’re getting to that space.”
Bernard agrees, and adds that there has been huge interest in rum from the Seychelles recently.
“We see a lot of tourists and visitors coming to see the distillery on a daily basis, compared with three or four years ago – now we’re seeing 10 times more than what we had. It’s almost like a self-fulfilling prophecy; the more people that know about Takamaka, that see it available in a local shop, it all starts to snowball, like a flywheel effect. We seem to be on that trajectory now and it’s great,” Bernard adds.
This makes it the perfect time to launch a new collection of Takamaka rums: the St André Series. Comprising four expressions, the new range truly encapsulates what Seychelles rum is all about.
The unique Seychellois rums combine a mix of cane and molasses rums, distilled in pot and column stills, utilising pressed rums, and finally blending with Bajan rum from Foursquare Distillery. Each expression has been carefully crafted to celebrate the rich heritage and Creole traditions of Takamaka’s homeland, while pushing the boundaries of conventional rum production.
First in the series is Extra Noir, a blend of pot- and column-distilled molasses rums, soaked with ex-Bourbon oak wood fines, then pressed with both French and ex-Bourbon cask wood. The rum is rested in second-fill ex-cane rum French oak casks for 60 days before bottling. At 43% ABV, expect a rum that is full-bodied and punchy, with high-ester funk, spice, vanilla and sweet undertones – perfect for a seriously sippable Highball.
Zepis Kreol takes its lead from oak and local Seychelles spices. The blend of pot and column still rums, made from molasses, are pre-soaked with ex-Merlot French oak wood fines, then macerated with locally grown natural spices before being pressed. The liquid is then blended with eight-year-old Bajan Foursquare rum, before spending 60 days in very old ex-Bourbon casks.
Tasting notes for the 43% ABV expression include cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and quatre épices, with a hint of sweetness – ideal for long or short serves, or chilled over ice.
The Pti Lakaz rum is testament to what can be done when maturing rum on the tropical island of Mahé. Its name means ‘small house’, which references the blending room at the distillery. To make Pti Lakaz, traditional pot-distilled Seychelles cane rum from three barrels (two ex-Radoux casks and one ex-Port cask) is blended with pot- and column-distilled molasses rum that has spent three years in ex-Bourbon casks, plus eight-year-old Bajan Foursquare molasses rum. The ABV sits slightly higher, at 45.1%, giving this non-chill-filtered bottling rich fruity flavours with star anise and dried cocoa beans, and a finish packed with dry spice.
Completing the collection is Grankaz, the epitome of Seychelles rum, which takes its name from the main house at the distillery. This liquid showcases the true craft that goes into ageing and blending Takamaka rum.
To make Grankas, traditional pot-distilled Seychelles cane rum, matured in medium-toast new French oak, is blended with three-year-old molasses rum, aged in ex-Bourbon barrels. This is then blended with eight-year-old Foursquare molasses rum. The liquid is bottled at 45.1% ABV to give herbaceous and slightly floral aromas, leading to stewed fruits, butterscotch and a silky, smooth profile.
“We’ve got 40,000 litres of stock in our cellars, from Port and Sherry casks to new French oak barrels, and we wanted to showcase the best of our rums within the new series,” explains Bernard. “We’ve laid down some really cool liquid over the years. The four rums within the series are very different, with one common thread: they’re all from the Seychelles.
“We’ve played around, experimented, and now we’re ready to showcase our very interesting cane rums and the blending process behind them. It’s fantastic liquid; we like to experiment.”
The range will be hitting shelves in Europe and the UK in mid-April. Europe will be a key focus for the brand in the coming year, and the brothers have their eyes set on further success in the UAE and the UK.
“Maybe Australia, Southeast Asia, as well,” notes Bernard. “Singapore is really cool, and Hong Kong.”
The future is looking incredibly bright for Takamaka, and the brothers are excited to share their rum across the globe.
“We’re opening up new markets, engaging with amazing people in the bar industry and drinks industry, and we want to continue with our cask-ageing programme,” says Richard. “This next year is about continuing to grow and push ourselves – and staying motivated. We’ve got some very exciting projects to come.”
The brothers hope that as tourism returns, they will once again be able to share their passion for rum with like-minded fans from around the world, and showcase the very best that Takamaka has to offer.