PAUL and Jacine Rutasikwa are telling the story of Matugga Rum. Its genesis is a fusion of their roots, one that stretches all the way from Uganda and Jamaica to a distillery in Scotland.

When we meet on a dreich and blustery Wednesday afternoon, the rain is thundering off the roof at the unit on a Livingston industrial estate where the husband-and-wife team unveiled their £100,000 facility in October.

Two copper pot stills are boiling away in a corner as the sweet scent of molasses – the thick, dark treacle that is a by-product of sugar cane refining – hangs in the air. Jars of colourful spices line shelves; a row of glasses sits on a nearby desk where Paul has been conducting some flavour tests.

"He is like the Nutty Professor," says Jacine, smiling fondly as she recalls how when they first started, Paul would spend hours experimenting with different spice combinations in their kitchen at home. The idea for Matugga took seed in 2014.

The couple, then living in London, were due to spend Christmas with Paul's family in Uganda. They had just had their first child and Jacine, who worked in corporate marketing, was mulling over ways to better achieve a work-life balance.

"The nine-to-five wasn't working," she recalls. "I wanted to spend more time with my daughter Mahya when she was still young. I felt bad going back to work when she was nine months old and putting her into nursery. Everything came to a head."

Jacine, 40, decided to take a three-month sabbatical from her job so they could stay on in Uganda and figure out a plan. "By the end of that three months we decided to start a business," she says.

That business was making rum. Jacine, who grew up in South London, has proud Jamaican roots. Her grandparents were part of the Windrush generation who had arrived in the UK during the 1950s.

"I married into a beautiful Ugandan family and spent a lot of time in Uganda and Kenya where I had seen lots of sugar cane," she says. "I was asking for rum and I was never able to get any. I found this very confusing and would say: 'Do you know what we do with the sugar cane in Jamaica?'

"That got us thinking: 'Why is there no rum coming out of Uganda when there is sugar cane here?' and 'Where are all the African rums on the global stage?' Then we looked wider beyond rum at where Africa figures in the world of fine spirits.

"The continent gets flooded with spirits made all over the world but in terms of home-grown African spirits – considering the amazing natural produce – we were perplexed at how few there were. It became a mission to showcase Africa in the world of fine spirits."

Paul's favourite tipple has long been whisky. "We don't really drink rum in East Africa," he says. "For me, marrying into a Caribbean family was an education. My drink was always Scotch whisky, but when you go to a Caribbean party, you can't really bring Scotch whisky …"

Jacine shakes her head, laughing heartily at the notion. "Her relatives taught me about Jamaican rum and introduced me to all the brands," Paul adds. "It made me wonder why I had never tried rum before. When it is made well it is a beautiful spirit."

Together the couple began to learn more about rums from across the Caribbean islands while pondering how to make their own East African variety. "We had the idea to launch Matugga not having any experience in the sector," says Jacine. "We saw a gap in the market and went for it.

"Everything had to reflect our positioning which was Africa and the UK – this interesting duality – and nobody else was doing that. We also had the innovative idea for our rum to be smoky. That is because this gentleman" – she gestures to her husband – "is a Scotch whisky man."

This gave birth to Matugga Golden Rum followed soon after by Matugga Spiced Rum with Paul, 41, spending hours in the kitchen – the collateral damage his singed eyebrows – as he attempted to nail the perfect combination of botanicals (Jacine affectionately describes him as "a flavour head").

"The one thing that is spiced across East Africa is tea," he says. "It doesn't matter where you go, there is a masala chai that they do. We selected five spices – ginger, cloves, vanilla, cardamom and cinnamon – plus the tea to go into our rum."

The molasses are sourced from Tanzania and Kenya. "We wanted to use molasses from Uganda, but the Ugandan sugar market is a bit unpredictable and volatile," says Paul. "We thought if we spread it across East Africa, we can still get them if there are any price fluctuations."

It is three years since they first unveiled Matugga at the London Rum Festival. Initially the duo worked with a contract distiller but since moving to Scotland have been able to begin production in their own facility at Brucefield Industry Park, West Lothian.

Their move to Scotland came about when Paul, a civil engineer by trade, began studying for an MSc in Brewing and Distilling at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. The couple have fallen in love with their new base since arriving last year. Livingston is home now.

Paul is the master distiller for Matugga with Jacine, who has experience in business start-ups alongside her marketing background, taking on the role as CEO.

They make an impressive and formidable team. Jacine is the more outgoing of the two, warm and gregarious, while Paul is a little shyer and softly spoken but clearly every bit as driven as his wife. He admits that ideas for new recipes are constantly percolating in his mind.

Later, when Jacine is getting her photograph taken over by the rum casks, Paul talks me through some his latest "experiments" for future Matugga limited edition expressions. His eyes light up as he speaks. This is a man who has clearly found his vocation.

"I almost can't sleep at night," he says with a grin. "I have so many ideas. It is only through having our own distillery that you begin to realise what is possible. You don't really understand a spirit until you have smelled and tasted it being made from the start.

"By doing that you get to know where all those little flavours come from, the bits that you don't usually get to taste because they never make it to the bottle. It is a huge spectrum."

His latest prototype, says Jacine, has sent them down a new and unexpected road. A ripple of excitement passes between them as they talk about the future. "There is definitely going to be more," they say in unison.

"We have released a Mavuno range with a special edition each year," says Paul. Beside him, Jacine adds: "We use a lot of Swahili – the language of East Africa – and Mavuno means 'harvest'. This is the harvest of Paul's experimentation. We will do 1,000 bottles in that edition."

The distillery – believed to be the first of its kind in central Scotland – is equipped with two 200-litre copper pot stills, capable of producing 50,000 litres of artisanal rum in its first year, the equivalent of two million single rum serves.

Over the next 12 months, Matugga is forecasting a 400 per cent increase in turnover and hoping to create five new full-time roles including positions in distilling and business development.

In recent weeks, they have undertaken crowdfunding which has netted £13,600 to support the couple's ambitious expansion plans. One of the options offered to those who contributed was the opportunity to purchase a private rum cask.

"Similar to whisky cask ownership, you would buy a rum cask and we would look after it for three years," says Paul. "Rum doesn't need a long maturation phase. We project within three years it would be very delicious and ready for bottling.

"We think that will coincide with the point that rum becomes the next thing. If you are going to buy a cask, you don't want to buy it in three years' time, you want to buy it now."

Over the past decade, the gin-making industry has mushroomed in Scotland with a raft of new distilleries and craft brands. According to Scotland Food and Drink, 70 per cent of the UK's gin is produced here and sales are expected to hit £1.5bn by 2020. Could rum go the same way?

Paul and Jacine certainly hope so. Matugga is among a handful of dedicated rum distilleries in Scotland. Dark Matter Distillers in Banchory, Aberdeenshire, launched in 2015 and Wester Spirit Rum, thought to be Glasgow's first rum distillery in 300 years, opened last month.

Moray-based Beach Craft Spirits produces three varieties of small batch rum including sloe and spiced. NB Distillery in North Berwick, known for its gin and vodka, recently added rum to its portfolio. The Strathearn Distillery in Perthshire introduced Dunedin Rum in 2017.

Paul and Jacine believe that over the next few years we will see more rum brands springing up across Scotland. They are delighted to be at the forefront of that revolution. "The magical thing is that now we are here, places have really inspired us," says Jacine.

"We are talking about bringing Africa to Scotland, but we want to showcase our own foraging and exploring Scotland in terms of flavours. It is about discovery for us.

"We are working on a new line that will have Scotland in the mix. We have had so much goodwill from people in Livingston and beyond. They seem to be really excited about what we are doing.

"It has all been really positive. It is an adventure. We honestly didn't know how we were going to be received. We rocked up here with our family and were hoping everyone would be welcoming, which they have been. There has been a lot of excitement."

Paul's love of whisky was a big factor in their choice of base. "Absolutely," he says. "It could only be Scotland. The quality of Scotch whisky is the highest in the world in terms of distilled spirits and I knew that if we were going to align ourselves with good standards it was going to be in Scotland."

He has found other upsides too. "The benefit of Scottish water is that there are not a lot of minerals in it. It is very soft water. You can imagine if you had a kettle down south, the inside would be covered in white stuff.

"We would have to remove all that stuff from the water and it would clog up the purification filter. It is an absolute nightmare to make wine, beer or spirits from.

"The water here is fantastic for brewing and distilling. The weather helps, too, because we generally have cool temperatures and a moderate summer in Scotland, so we are not over-ageing our rum stock. It is gently maturing in a way you can control it.

"If you were distilling, for example, in the United Arab Emirates you would need to put the casks in a basement with air conditioning. Scotland is perfect to mature spirits."

The name Matugga comes from family owned land in Uganda. "Traditionally in Uganda when you get married your father gives you a piece of land to grow crops and feed your family," says Paul.

"My brother was given a piece of land he didn't particularly like, so he decided to sell it and buy land with my mum in Matugga. My mum really fell in love with this piece of land. She was an agriculturist and teacher of farming. My mum farmed that land with such passion."

After his mother passed away in 2014, the 300-acre expanse took on an even more special meaning. "I remember standing there thinking: 'This is amazing,'" says Paul. "Most of it is unspoiled. It is not savannah – this is green. There are passion fruit vines growing, some chillies. It is beautiful.

"My brother told me stories about how it used to be a sugar cane plantation and when they first bought it, they found all this kit for harvesting sugar cane. I thought: 'I think we are being told something here. We are being told to do something that is sugar cane based …'"

Jacine takes up the thread. "It was a very spiritual time," she says. "My family is from Jamaica and Africa is my heritage. It was almost like a homecoming and being welcomed by my Ugandan family.

"It was where we had the idea to make rum. This land represents Uganda and the whole continent. It has beauty and serenity and all the wonderful produce. It became the heartbeat of our brand."