“In the daytime, I drive a black cab. At night time, I distil.”
Moses Odong has two specialisms. He drives one of London’s iconic black cabs, and he makes London’s only white rum – which is so good it’s just won an IWSC trophy.
Odong’s pretty proud of both skills. “I did ‘The Knowledge’ ten years ago”, he says, referring to the fearsome test that all London cabbies have to pass, which requires them to memorise 25,000 of the capital’s streets and as many landmarks.
But he’s arguably prouder of the fact that his creamy, aromatic blackstrap (distilled from blackstrap molasses) rum just took a trophy at the IWSC 2018.
Taxi Spirit Company’s Cabby’s Rum – which has only been on the market a month – was awarded the Rum & Cola Trophy 2018 when this year’s IWSC spirits results were announced at the competition’s Annual Spirits Tasting last month.
The rum, described as having ‘rich, full-bodied taste notes of sweet cane, delicious black treacle, a hint of oak and refreshing coconut and citrus’, also received Rum & Cola Gold Outstanding, Rum & Ginger Beer Silver, and Silver 2018 medals.
Local white rum is unheard of in London – in fact, Taxi Spirit Company produce the only one. ‘Every rum drinker in the UK has the idea that rum should be Caribbean’, Odong says – but few know that London was actually the city to introduce rum to Great Britain, having historically been a vital international trading port.
Founded in Mile End in 2014 as the first business of its kind in the city, it’s taken two and a half years for Odong to get his official government licence for Taxi Spirit Company.
He is entirely self-taught, and spent five years learning his craft from the ground up. “I first spent six months learning how to make beer, and then I went to learn distilling at the Copper Rivet Distillery in Kent. It’s a long process,” he said.
“I started selling the rum about four weeks ago, and I’ve sold about 200 bottles of each from a batch of 250. I’m production, marketing, and sales manager.”
Their distillery is small, with a 350 litre still (named Irene), and Odong makes the rum from scratch from blackstrap molasses which he sources from bakery suppliers in Wimbledon. He is helped by his partner, Bianca Whiskey, and technical expert Abhishek Banik, who graduated from the International Centre of Brewing and Distilling at Heriot-Watt University.
Along with the four awards scooped by Cabby’s Rum, Odong also picked up Silver Outstanding and Gin & Tonic Silver medals for Cabby’s Gin – described by IWSC judges as a ‘rich, bold and juniper-led gin with a floral approach’ – bringing Taxi Spirit Company’s medal haul to a total of six.
“We’re mainly a rum distillery – the gin came by accident when I decided to use the same botanicals as for the spiced rum – dill, rosemary, lavender, allspice, juniper, and few others,” he said.
“I wasn’t expecting it, but to come out with six awards – what can you say? The product will speak for itself, and that’s what we love about it.”
Odong drives a black cab. He did ‘The Knowledge’ ten years ago.
Cabby’s Rum is available at TT Liquor Shoreditch, The Whisky Exchange, and online at TaxiSpirit.com. Follow Moses Odong and Taxi Spirit Company now @TaxiSpiritCo
Featured image copyright: Evening Standard