The idea for Lost Years Rum was hatched on a family holiday in Jamaica, the Caribbean island famed not only for its fine rum, but also for its sea turtles.
It was back in 2019, just before COVID took hold and stopped us all travelling anywhere.
I can’t take all the credit though.
For as long as I can remember, my son Billy has adored sea life and particularly sea turtles. I think it comes from those formative years he spent watching Finding Nemo far too often!
Anyway, we were on holiday and I’d been out for the day visiting a distant rum distillery – the incredible step-back-in-time Hampden Estate in Trelawny Parish. As a long time rum fan, I like to do these things.
Meanwhile, my wife, Trudy, and our two children, Elliot and Billy, had been learning about sea turtles back at the resort.
The waters off the coast of Jamaica are home to two species of sea turtle – the green and the hawksbill turtle. However, they’re both in danger. Green turtles were once abundant, today they are a very rare sight. Hawksbills are also critically endangered.
Jamaica’s nesting season runs from May to December each year and, if you’re very lucky, you might see the hatchlings scurrying across the beach towards the water. Their odds aren’t great though – just one in 1,000 will make it to adulthood.
They also heard about Jamaica’s very own ‘turtle man’ – the brilliant Mel Tennant, a Brit who moved to Jamaica in 2003 and has devoted his retirement to protecting sea turtles.
We got chatting over dinner that night and the idea was hatched - what if we could bring incredible Caribbean rum over to the UK and at the same time support one of the region’s most celebrated and endangered creatures?
Billy was particularly vocal that night and felt we had to do something to help these ancient and endangered creatures. How can we stand by and let them disappear when they have been around for more than 100 million years?
From that one conversation the idea just grew and grew and it became something of an obsession for me. I had no background in spirits, but I knew I just had to make this happen.
It took us over a year to make that dream a reality – coming up with the name (Lost Years is a reference to the early years of a sea turtle’s life, when they disappear into the ocean, not to be seen again for many years), sourcing incredible rums from some of the world’s most revered distilleries, choosing the most sustainable packaging and finding the right charity partner – SEE Turtles - to ensure the money we raise makes a difference.
We had to learn all about the rum business and get licensed in the UK to be able to sell alcohol.
It seemed to take forever!
Finally, in November 2020, we launched Lost Years Rum.
It’s still very early days for us, but the reaction so far has been great. I’m delighted rum lovers have chosen to embrace our ethos and brand, and I’m really happy that our rums are going down a storm too – winning coveted awards (more on that to follow!) and lots of five-star reviews.
I’m really proud of what we’ve accomplished so far. From a seeming crazy rum-fuelled idea hatched on holiday, we’ve built a lovely brand which is helping raise awareness of the plight of sea turtles and raise money to save them – ensuring they get to disappear beneath the waves and begin their very own ‘lost years’ journey.
If you’re interested in learning more about sea turtles, here are some great links: