From Cane to Cask: Engineering the Perfect Rum for World Rum Day

This week we’re celebrating #WorldRumDay, an annual celebration of rum from across the world.

As global process engineers for the distilled spirits (plus food and pharmaceutical) industries, we like to think we know a thing or two about rum here at Briggs of Burton (BRIGGS). With over 285 years of experience in the distilled spirits sector, we have a long history of designing engineering systems, supplying distillation equipment and supporting rum producers with expansions, upgrades and sustainable solutions.

Working alongside McMillan Coppersmiths, BRIGGS has worked with a variety of world-class rum producers over the years. From DIAGEO, Beam Suntory, Bacardi, Remy Cointreau and many more, our rum distillery projects see our team work across the globe, spanning all the way from the Caribbean to China.

Our approach

Our work within the rum distillery industry strives to meet the individual needs of the world’s rum producers, realising their objectives around increased production capacity and quality distillation.

Whether it be building copper stills with McMillan Coppersmiths, working on energy recovery and applying TVR on column distillation, or undertaking the cleaning and product changeovers… it’s fair to say that the skills needed to carry out exceptional rum production should not be overlooked. This is where process engineering from BRIGGS comes in. 

Our team of engineers has played an integral part in the development of several distilleries across the world, taking projects through a complete life cycle from initial consultancy, solutions, manufacture, commissioning and automation, through to customer service and support.

This World Rum Day, we’d like to take this opportunity to share a snapshot about rum itself, whether that be where it originated, all the different types of rum or how production style affects the quality and taste of rum.

All about rum

So, what actually is rum and how is it made?

A liquor made from sugar, rum is made from fermenting and then distilling sugarcane, which can be either pure sugarcane, syrup or molasses. 

After fermentation and distillation, most rums are then put through an ageing process. This is where different types of rum can be created, as the ageing process used affects the flavour of rum. 

For example, ageing rum in wooden barrels will result in a darker colour, whereas ageing in stainless steel tanks will result in a much clearer colour – this colour affects not just the look, but taste and flavour, too.

Where did rum come from?

Rum first originated in the West Indies during the early 1600s. Upon discovery, rum production in the 1600s grew rapidly and soon began production in Brazil, Sweden, America and even France.

Today, rum continues to be produced across the globe, with each region having its own take on the flavour and taste of rum.

What are the main types of rum?

White rum:

A clear spirit with little to no colouring, white rum is mostly used for mixing within cocktails. In production, white rum is often aged in stainless steel tanks, or wooden barrels. If matured in barrels, then the rum is put through a filtering process afterwards to strip it of its colour.

With a lighter flavour than dark rums, white rum is ideal to be responsibly enjoyed in cocktails such as Mojitos, Daiquiris, Cuba Libras and Pina Coladas.

Brown rum:

Brown rum is aged in oak barrels for anywhere between 2 to 10 years, which gives it a stronger flavour than white rum and more often drunk straight rather than within a cocktail. As a variation of dark rum, which is where the spirit is aged in wooden barrels for a variable amount of time to give differing colour and flavour, brown rum is aged in a heavily charred barrel and holds a bolder flavour to white rum.

Spiced rum:

This is where spices and extra flavours, such as vanilla, ginger and nutmeg, are added to a base rum, resulting in a sweet and spicy taste. Typically, spiced rum is aged for the same amount of time as dark rum, too.

Engineering’s part to play in rum production

Clearly, the way in which rum is made impacts how it’s tasted and enjoyed by its consumers. Often, this extends to not just the tanks in which the rum is held, but the processes and efficiency in which it is fermented and distilled.

Speak to our team to discover more about developing your rum distillery today.

Posted in Distilling

Double win for McMillan Coppersmiths

It was a double win for McMillan Coppersmiths and Fabricators last night at the Made in Scotland Awards. Held at the Glasgow Science Centre, McMillan were singled out against several leading manufacturers across the country for;

Manufacturer of the Year – The team were applauded for their efforts in continuing to handcraft traditional Scottish copper distillation equipment for the world’s biggest distilled spirits producers whilst inspiring the next generation of coppersmiths to adopt the craft. With increased revenue, larger projects and investment into its facilities, McMillan’s has gone from strength to strength.

McMillan Coppersmiths have been part of global engineering firm, Briggs of Burton, since 2020.

George Crombie, Engineering Director at Briggs of Burton, said:

“This award recognises the outstanding work and commitment of our team who continue to go above and beyond, we couldn’t be prouder. McMillan’s team of coppersmiths, apprentices and engineers have been influential in designing and manufacturing copper distillation equipment to produce Scotch whisky, Tequila, Gin, and a range of global whiskies. They are continuing a highly specialised craft which is at the heart of the distilled spirits industry and the company is one of the oldest coppersmiths in the world, having been founded in 1867. These awards celebrate the success of the team who always strive to deliver what they promise.”

Jakub Spiewak, Manufacturing Apprentice of the Year – Jakub was recognised for being instrumental in building copper distillation equipment for major distillery expansion projects in Scotland and beyond. He has also been involved in producing copper distillation equipment for breweries looking to grow into the Distilled Spirits market whilst supporting the business at various careers fairs to promote their apprenticeship scheme.

Jakub Spiewak, craft apprentice at McMillan Coppersmiths, said:

“The knowledge and experience I have gained from the team since starting my apprenticeship has enabled me to progress to where I am today. My goal is to progress into more senior roles at McMillan and pass down the skills and knowledge I have gained to the next generation of apprentices here. I have had the opportunity to travel throughout Scotland installing and modifying our equipment and look forward to experiencing other aspects of engineering, management and operations before completing my craft apprenticeship next year.”

About McMillan Coppersmiths and Fabricators

McMillan Coppersmiths and Fabricators based in Prestonpans; Edinburgh are a traditional Scottish based copper distillation equipment manufacturer. McMillan and its predecessor Archibald McMillan & Co Ltd have been a significant force in the domestic and worldwide supply of copper distilling equipment since the company was originally founded in 1867. McMillan have standard copper pot still designs for most spirit types and have the capability to design bespoke stills, columns, and distillation systems. Part of Briggs of Burton Group since 2020, McMillan have played a key role in supporting the group deliver large scale Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) projects for the global distilled spirits industry. Most recently McMillan’s team of thirty
coppersmiths, apprentices and engineers have been influential in designing and manufacturing copper distillation equipment to produce Scotch whisky, Tequila, Gin, and a range of global whiskies.

Posted in Awards, Distilling

Diamond Sponsors at WDSC 2023

Briggs of Burton (Briggs) are excited to be Diamond Sponsors at the Worldwide Distilled Spirits Conference (WDSC) in Edinburgh and look forward to hosting global delegates at the Briggs Social Evening on Wednesday 10th May. Our team of engineers will be delivering presentations and workshops throughout the week, sharing their knowledge on core distilling technologies which can benefit your new and existing distillery operations.

We will be presenting the following talks :

  • Design, Development & Implementation of Brewstilleries
  • Water Usage & High Gravity Mashing
  • Electrifying Your Spirit Production

We have been providing engineering solutions for nearly 300 years and offer an unrivalled level of customer service and support. Our engineering approach is flexible, and our team can meet you at your facility to understand your needs and requirements, locally and quickly through our dedicated sales and engineering hubs. From technical consultancy to turnkey projects, new builds, and retrofits, we can help you at every stage of your distilling project.

As a global company with a strong reputation in the distilled spirits industry we are passionate about always offering safe, efficient, and sustainable distilleries. Scotland is a key market for Briggs, and we are pleased to share that we have opened a new office in Forres to further support our existing and new customers in Speyside. We are recognised as a trusted project partner globally by our
customers who value our ethos of being a safe, honest, and flexible engineering company who deliver what they promise.

About Briggs of Burton

If you have eaten or drunk it there is a chance that Briggs of Burton has helped to produce it.

Briggs are the engineers behind supplying the equipment, engineering and automation to the world’s largest food, alcoholic beverage, and pharmaceutical manufacturers

Today Briggs employs over 300 colleagues across six sites in the UK, Scotland, USA, Mexico, China, and Australia. The team deliver turnkey engineering projects for leading household brands covering North America, Europe, Central America, Africa, Australia, and Asia. Briggs’ benefits from a global network of stainless-steel manufacturing facilities, including their own located in Burton on Trent and Prestonpans, Scotland.

Briggs are actively developing sustainable engineering solutions, focusing on their customer’s requirements towards carbon neutrality. 

Posted in Distilling, Engineering

Briggs of Burton strengthens ties to Scotland with new office

A continuing surge in contracts within the booming Scotch whisky industry has led to specialist process engineers and sustainability experts, Briggs of Burton, to open a new Scottish hub. Since 2010, when Briggs of Burton completed its first Scottish project with Loch Lomond Distillery, the company has seen tremendous growth. The Scotch whisky sector saw global exports hit £6 billion in 2022 and Briggs of Burton announced today the opening of its new office in Moray, in the heart of whisky country. The office will lead 6 new projects in Speyside, whilst servicing major existing clients including the Glenlivet, Glenfiddich, Dalmunach and Mortlach distilleries, as well as managing a large number of new enquiries.

Rob Buxton, Managing Director at Briggs of Burton, commented:

“Expanding into Morayshire, the ancestral home of the distilling industry, felt like the natural progression for Briggs of Burton, given its longstanding history of work within Scotland. We are working on contracts ranging from £3m to £30m and the new office will support ongoing growth, create at least 10 jobs and reduce our carbon footprint by bringing our expertise closer to clients. Briggs of Burton has extensive experience in delivering distillery projects in key spirit producing regions and this new premises will allow us to further deepen our knowledge of the Scotch whisky industry as well as support jobs and investment.”

Briggs has secured a new premises at Forres Enterprise Park, home to over 100 acres of beautifully landscaped grounds and sustainable buildings in a thriving community of manufacturing, engineering and technology businesses.

Briggs of Burton already owns Scottish copper still manufacturer McMillan – a significant force in the domestic and worldwide supply of copper distilling and stainless steel process equipment – which is based in Prestonpans, approximately eight miles east of Edinburgh. Originating from Burton on Trent, Briggs of Burton is a UK success story, specialising in delivering safe, high-quality process engineering in an environmentally sustainable way to help distilleries reach their decarbonisation targets. The company is designing, expanding and building new distilleries around the world, covering North America, Central America, Europe, Africa, Australia, Japan and China.

Briggs of Burton’s impressive portfolio of clients include William Grant & Sons, Diageo and Chivas. The company recently partnered with Ardgowan Distillery to lead the design, build and engineering of their carbon negative distillery. Briggs of Burton is also supporting Brown-Forman to double its production capacity at its iconic GlenDronach distillery in Aberdeenshire by implementing operational energy efficiencies and supplying traditional Scottish copper distillation equipment.

Posted in Distilling, Manufacturing

Meet Briggs of Burton at IBD Asia Pacific

The Briggs of Burton team are on in Adelaide, Australia to exhibit at the Institute of Brewing & Distilling Asia Pacific Convention this week. Briggs will be exhibiting alongside our sister companies Ziemann Holvrieka and DME Process Systems Ltd. promoting their global brewing and distilled spirits project delivery.

Come and speak to Robert BuxtonJohn Hancock and Liam Deery on Stand 27 & 28 to discuss your next project.

About Briggs of Burton

If you have eaten or drunk it there is a chance that Briggs of Burton has helped to produce it.

Briggs are the engineers behind supplying the equipment, engineering and automation to the world’s largest food, alcoholic beverage, and pharmaceutical manufacturers

Today Briggs employs over 300 colleagues across six sites in the UK, Scotland, USA, Mexico, China, and Australia. The team deliver turnkey engineering projects for leading household brands covering North America, Europe, Central America, Africa, Australia, and Asia. Briggs’ benefits from a global network of stainless-steel manufacturing facilities, including their own located in Burton on Trent and Prestonpans, Scotland.

Briggs are actively developing sustainable engineering solutions, focusing on their customer’s requirements towards carbon neutrality. 

Posted in Brewing, Distilling

Briggs of Burton forms strategic partnership to explore new carbon reducing technologies

Ardgowan Distillery announced the appointment of Briggs of Burton in October 2021 last year to lead the design, build and engineering of their carbon negative distillery. Now, both Ardgowan and Briggs have joined forces with Heriot Watt University’s International Centre for Brewing and Distilling (ICBD) exploring new carbon reducing technologies.

Close to 500,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) is produced by Scottish malt and grain distilleries and breweries every year. Whisky washbacks, used in distilleries as fermentation vessels, are generally fitted with COextractors but this CO2 is rarely collected. The North British Distillery is one of the notable exceptions, producing CO2 for the beverage industry. However, the high costs and multiple challenges involved in using the existing technology makes it difficult for smaller companies to use.

Ardgowan produces 755,000 kg of CO2 every year from fermentation processes. However plans are in place to use Briggs’ proven technologies to drive down carbon emissions. This includes the use of high temperature heat pumps.

Heriot-Watt University’s expertise across engineering and distilled spirits, will be able to explore and validate a wider range of carbon reduction technologies. The Ardgowan project is also designed to overlap with MSc Brewing and Distilling projects at the University.  Regardless of scale, this will expand the range of strategies explored and provide some facts about the various routes the industry could take.

Scott Davies, Head of Marketing commented:

“Both Ardgowan and Briggs of Burton will greatly benefit from research conducted by Heriot-Watt University, providing an independent perspective and broader scope when identifying opportunities across the overall malt whisky production process and its supply chain. The Ardgowan Distillery is being designed to accept process developments through its modular construction. This means research conducted through this partnership can be directly adopted at the distillery, enabling Ardgowan to continuously assess and seek to reduce its carbon impact from the outset. As a Heriot-Watt alumni, it’s a great opportunity to help give back to the next generation of brewing and distilling engineers and scientists.”

The project will be based at the ICBD at Heriot-Watt University’s Edinburgh campus. The ICBD has access to its own pilot brewing, fermentation, and distillation facilities with labs for all aspects of brewing and distilling research including analytical capabilities.

The research is funded through the Food and Drink Net Zero Challenge fund, which was set up by Interface and the Scotland Food and Drink Partnership to support Scotland’s food and drink businesses as part of the Recovery Plan funded by the Scottish Government.

Each funded project is designed to accelerate businesses on the journey towards net zero and improve their environmental sustainability, utilising the world class knowledge base and facilities across Scottish universities, research institutes and colleges. The collaboration will update the academic community and wider industry on findings to encourage widespread adoption and impact.

Posted in Distilling, Engineering