Bristol Spirits Ltd

The English independent bottler Bristol was founded by John Barrett in 1993, which makes it a relatively young company compared to some other independent bottlers. Their experience in bottling rum is quite considerable though, since many of the traditional bottlers only recently added rum to their portfolios. Before bottling rum, Mr. Barrett was engaged in the Cognac business and also served as a whisky consultant. His experience in the spirits industry thus date back to way before 1993. Moreover, Marco from Barrel Aged Mind states that he has been told that John Barrett is probably THE rum expert in Great Britain. I can well believe it.

The company is very highly regarded among connoisseurs for their fine selection of casks. Especially their first two decades have seen many superb bottlings. Some even claim that back in the days you could have blindly picked any of their rums and be sure that you have got yourself a good to great product. Unfortunately, this has changed a bit since the market of rum bottlers is now more saturated and companies can not choose among casks as liberally anymore. While you were still able to sample directly from the barrels and bottle only from the casks that you judged worthy just a few years ago, all that some bottlers receive today are tasting notes and an assessment by the broker. Often times all you can get today are some facts about a given cask that is on sale and the purchase decision has to be made very quickly or someone else will be quicker in picking it up. The romantic days of bottlers travelling from distillery to distillery and tasting among exclusively selected barrels are definitely gone.

Like some other bottlers, Bristol choses to dilute their rums, mostly to drinking strengths of 43% or 46%. I believe that one major reasons for this dilution is that Bristol tries to reach the broader public. While many independent bottlers only sell their rums through online shops and highly specialized liquor stores, Bristol’s rums seem to be more readily available. This is good and bad at the same time. On the one hand, it brings high quality rums to consumers that usually go for inferior and highly sweetened rums. On the other hand, I am afraid that the quality of their bottlings suffers as a result. As mentioned above, this process seems to have started already.

Here is an article (in German) by Barrel Aged Thoughts which tracks the evolution of Bristol’s bottle design over the years.

The following is a list of some rums of Bristol Spirits that I have got to taste over the years:



  • Bristol Classic Rum Reserve Rum (Westerhall Estate) 11YO (2003-2014), 43%





Other/ Blends