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Matugga Distillery launches £300k crowdfunding campaign

A rum distillery that claims to be the UK's first owned by a black woman is eyeing global expansion with the launch of a £300,000 crowdfunding campaign. 

Investment in the Matugga Distillery will help the rum company become a "cane to cask" producer, with plans underway to develop a sugarcane plantation in Uganda. The Livingston, Scotland-based distiller is recognised as one of the first companies in the UK to produce rums from scratch.

Based in Livingston, Scotland, Matugga Distillery is one of only a handful of producers in the UK to make its rums from scratch. The company is seeking £300,000 of investment to help it grow its team, secure worldwide export channels, and purchase new distillery equipment to increase output. 

Married co-founders Jacine Rutasikwa and Ugandan head distiller Paul Rutasikwa say they have experienced huge demand for their rum brands Matugga and Liv, which pay homage to their African and Caribbean roots. 

The couple hope to capitalise on the rising popularity of rum, which had a global market of £17.2bn in 2021. They have sold more than 25,000 bottles already and say their distillery has reached the limits of its current capabilities.

Managing director Jacine, believed to be the UK’s first black female distillery owner, said: "The rum market is ready for disruption, and while the UK craft rum category is relatively new,  we're producing some of the most adventurous and unique rum expressions available anywhere in the world. Hardly any major retailers stock locally made craft rum, but the appetite is there so we need to think big to be ready to meet that opportunity. 

“We are producing 'new world' rum and we're rewriting the rulebook as we want to push the boundaries of what has gone before by producing exciting rums that offer surprising flavour and character in every bottle."

Matugga Distillery's rum is made using a degree of wild fermentation, and is copper pot distilled with Scottish, East African and Jamaican botanicals. The majority of the spirit is matured in oak casks, including ex wine, Cognac, Bourbon, sherry and port casks. 

Paul said: "We have substantial ties to Uganda, and our team shares a common desire to support the livelihoods of sugarcane growers in East Africa. 

"With this at the front of our mind, we are developing a sugarcane plantation on our family land in Matugga that will employ and train local agricultural workers. By harvesting cane from our land and converting it into high-quality distilling molasses we will become a 'cane to cask' rum producer."

On the company's crowdfunding campaign, Jacine said: "When starting a business, black entrepreneurs, female entrepreneurs and particularly black female entrepreneurs face huge barriers and often struggle to get to the next phase for a number of reasons – whether its access to finance, networks, education or mentorship."

Matugga Distillery’s crowdfunding campaign is now live on Crowdcube.

21 March 2022 - Bethany Whymark