Bexhill couple launch new rum business in Hastings

A married couple have launched a new business in Hastings Old Town selling hand-crafted spiced rum.

Thursday, 3rd January 2019, 3:45 pm
Updated Thursday, 10th January 2019, 2:11 pm
Jamie and Sue Keenan have launched Rumbustian in Hastings

Jamie and Sue Keenan, who live in Bexhill with their son Oliver, 12, and daughter Jessica, 10, started Rumbustian after more than a year of planning.

After a busy Christmas, Jamie and Sue – who have been married 15 years – hope to build a customer base in Hastings, a town with a huge connection with smuggling.

Jamie, who used to work in automotive customer service, said: “Launching as we did on December 10 was brilliant for getting the business out there as people looked for last minute Christmas presents.

“It was amazing and a great end to the year.”

The idea for the business came about when Sue, a retail trainer, visited Cornwall on a work trip and discovered people selling Cornish rum.

When she asked how the rum was made, she was told how it was imported, spiced and bottled before being sold on.

“That was the spark. That was how the idea came into being. A realisation that we could do something amazing,” Jamie added.

Jamie and Sue moved from Kent to Bexhill in September 2017 and later purchased a unit in West Street, Hastings, where they hand-craft, bottle and label their rum.

Jamie said: “As Hastings has a huge connection with smuggling, we had hoped to open the business in July 2018 ahead of Pirate Day. Unfortunately everything from applying to Hastings Borough Council and HMRC took longer than we expected.

“I can’t even begin to reel out the things we have learnt over the past 12 months.”

Jamie and Sue said being close to the sea was a big reason for moving to Bexhill and, as a result, the couple decided against using plastic wrapping, seals or bottle stoppers.

Jamie said the plastic-free process is less cost-effective but is something they believe in.

He added: “There is only so much we can do to help but we are mindful of all aspects of production.

The business will also donate 25p to local charities for every empty Rumbustian bottle returned.

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