A renowned whisky writer has welcomed the launch of a private cask ownership scheme that he believes will "put Scottish rum on the map".

The Livingston-based Matugga Distillery, set up in 2018 by wife and husband Jacine and Paul Rutasikwa, is offering a limited number of casks of its award-winning rum to private investors as it strengthens its ties with Scotland's whisky heritage. The move comes after last year's £300,000 crowdfunding campaign which is being used to finance and eight-fold increase in production at Matugga.

The couple's efforts have received backing from whisky expert Charles MacLean and Dave Broom, an award-winning whisky and rum writer. Mr MacLean noted that many believe rum could become the next big thing in the Scottish drinks industry.

“This is an exciting project, and given the huge current interest in private cask sales of single malt whisky, I am sure it will have considerable appeal," he said.

HeraldScotland: Charles MacLeanCharles MacLean (Image: Newsquest)

“For many years now, drinks writers have been saying that ‘rum will be the next malt’; recent statistics seem to support this. It will certainly put Scottish rum on the map, and given the global prestige of Scotch whisky, it will benefit from the connection."

Mr Rutasikwa predicted it could prove a "milestone moment for Scottish rum".

"Scotland has a little-known and very deep rum heritage linked to the Age of Imperialism," he said. "Now, in 2023, we’re part of Scotland’s exciting new wave of rum distillers and there’s a real opportunity for us to create history and take Scottish rum worldwide.”

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Matugga says it has formed strong bonds and cask exchange agreements within the Scottish whisky industry, particularly with Whyte & Mackay and its master whisky maker Gregg Glass.

“We’ve been really pleased by how collaborative the industry has been, and we’re excited about the potential for developing new ideas and unique combinations of flavours for both rum and whisky," Mr Rutasikwa added.

"We’re working on some exciting projects with Gregg and others - we share the same passion and we all want to ensure that Scotland’s drinks industry continues to lead the way."

HeraldScotland: The Matugga DistilleryThe Matugga Distillery (Image: Richard Chalmers)

Mr Broom said there has been a "clear global surge" of interest in rum.

"Rum is growing - there are more countries producing, a greater range of approaches and a distinct move towards premium," he said. "All of this chimes with the approach taken by Scottish rum producers.

“Matugga's cask programme certainly shows intent and a recognition that Scottish rum is ready to take the next step.”