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Day in the Life: Paul Rutasikwa, head distiller and co-founder of Matugga Distillers

They make various types of rum, including the Matugga Golden Rum, which is matured in bourbon casks


I’m woken up by my daughters, then my wife Jacine and I split the chores. I’m head of ironing and I prepare breakfast. There’s always a last-minute hunt for a reading book, a gym shoe, or glasses before I drop the kids at primary school.


I open our distillery. I can be pulled in lots of different directions, but the most important thing is producing the rum. I run through the production plan with assistant distiller, Drew, and Graham, our production assistant. We manually wash our four 200-litre alembic copper pot stills, then reload fresh fermented molasses to begin the first distillation.


The second distillation begins by loading low wines from the previous day. I then conduct a sensory analysis and take NPD (New Product Development) samples. I do this before lunch as food will obliterate the palate. 


I head to the local café for lunch - chicken curry with rice is my favourite.


The technical admin for the distillery falls to me, but as a director, there are lots of other duties, including communicating with potential clients and dealing with supply chains. It’s been a busy time as we launch our crowdfunding campaign. As the second distillation is in motion, I love the smells that waft through the distillery. The transformation of molasses into this floral, herbal, sweet smelling liquid still amazes me.


I oversee the end of the second distillation by sensory and instrumentation-based analysis of the distillate. This is where we first produce what’s recognised as rum by taste and smell. It’s our first opportunity to control the character of the liquid. As it starts to come through from the condenser, we judge whether we need to stop collecting. We begin the third distillation, which is all about quality and process control.


After reviewing the inventory and production schedule, I work with the team on cleaning the production floor area, portable equipment and tanks. Although deep cleaning the stills is incredibly hard work, I love this - an orderly and clean work space is so important. 


As the team heads home, I oversee the end of the first distillations and catch up with paperwork. I may also host a virtual rum tasting or distillery tour. I am a very reserved person but I can talk about making spirits non-stop.


Once home, I hear the jokes the girls learned at school as we make dinner together. We cook fusion food; East African pilau rice with Jamaican jerk chicken or a Moroccan tagine with Thai jasmine rice. Anything goes.


Jacine and I have a glass of wine with dinner. But on Fridays we treat ourselves to rum cocktails. Our Liv Tropical Rum punch is a big favourite.


Once the girls have gone to bed we might unwind by watching Netflix. We’re currently watching Black Mirror.


I head to bed and then fall asleep within seconds.

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Gaby Soutar is a lifestyle editor at The Scotsman. She has been reviewing restaurants for The Scotsman Magazine since 2007 and edits the weekly food pages.

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