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Business Spotlight: Fussell's Coal and Gold Spiced Rum

25 Jan, 2024

Based in Porthcawl, Fussell’s Coal and Gold sells a blend of Welsh spiced rum, taking inspiration from Wales’ heritage of the coal and gold industries. Fussell's has also recently launched a vodka called Floff.

Fussell’s joined GlobalWelsh’s Business membership programme in 2023. We caught up with Founder Dai Fussell to talk about the gap in the Welsh rum market and find out why Coal and Gold should be the next rum you try…

Can you tell me a little bit about the business?

I wanted to see more Welsh drinks and spirits on the shelves in local shops and bars in Wales. I lived in Kent for over 20 years and you’d always see Scottish whisky, American bourbon and French/Spanish/Italian lager, but you’d rarely ever see Welsh products even in pubs titled after Welsh icons. It bothered me that I could go to the international aisle in a supermarket and find food and drink from all over the world but nothing Welsh.

In 2023 I decided that I wanted to transition to retire from my full-time job. It was time to start a business and I knew that creating a Welsh spirit was what I wanted to do. My wife’s parents used to run pubs and clubs across South Wales so initially we learnt from them, got to know the industry and built it from there.

 "There didn’t seem to be many options out there for spiced rum so I thought why not give it a go? The objective was to produce a spirit that I would genuinely enjoy drinking myself."

Why did you choose rum?

When I stopped training and playing rugby I found that drinking pints was no longer a sustainable option for me, so I started thinking about spirits that I liked. The gin market is quite saturated and I was spoilt for choice and then there's Penderyn who are already flying the Welsh flag in the whisky market, so this led me to try rum.

I did some research in my local clubs and realised that rum was popular amongst my generation as well as amongst my children’s friends who are in their late twenties and early thirties. There didn’t seem to be many options out there for spiced rum so I thought why not give it a go? The objective was to produce a spirit that I would genuinely enjoy drinking myself.

We launched our first small-batch product in 2023, we’re now selling our rum and vodka in pubs, bars, hotels and clubs across South Wales and in some local sports clubs and bars back in Kent.

Are you looking into any other spirits?

We currently have a new vodka drink called Floff. The idea was conceptualised over ten years ago when I was working with a German company that used to sell warm beer. It got me thinking that whenever there is an outside event, there are never any warmer drinks on offer unless you’re drinking tea and coffee. From this, I started thinking about an alternative to beer which led to discussions about formulations of vodka and coffee liquors, so this is an idea we’re exploring this year around the wider Floff line.

"I would like to export our products around the world, with a specific focus on America because the strongest diaspora presence is there"

Why is engaging with the diaspora important to a new Welsh business like yours?

Some amazing products are coming out of Wales but there doesn’t seem to be a lot of promotion around them, which is something we’d like to help with. I used to live near London where I coached the London Welsh rugby team and I recognised the strength of the diaspora there.

We’re a modest nation and we don’t push ourselves and our products enough. Looking at it from a business perspective rather than just patriotic thought, we need to be getting Wales and its products out there globally otherwise we will be beaten to it.

In the future, I would like to export our products around the world, with a specific focus on America because the strongest diaspora presence is there. I wrote a book called ‘How the Welsh discovered America’ where I discuss the impact we’ve had on their history so it makes sense to start there. When we look to export, I’d like to engage with the GlobalWelsh USA hub team on this too.

How has GlobalWelsh supported your business so far?

Being a Business Member of GlobalWelsh has enabled me to make connections that I might never have made.

I attended the Connect to London event in September 2023 where I handed out rum samples, and from that, I met a lady who introduced me to a Welsh distillery I’d never heard of before. We are now working with that distillery which is a fantastic achievement from only spending a few hours at an event.

I love that GlobalWelsh offers pitching opportunities and is willing to help small businesses in the early stages too. I joined GlobalWelsh through a recommendation, which led to a connection with a fellow Business Member and marketeer via the GlobalWelsh Connect platform. She’s given us some amazing advice so while we’re still new to the platform, the connections I’ve made so far have made our membership hugely worthwhile.

What’s in store for the future?

We’re less than a year old so there’s lots to learn and we hope to engage more with fellow Business Members and learn from them. We want to start forming relationships with retailers and help add a Welsh alternative to restaurants, bars and pubs, both in Wales and the wider UK.

Dreaming big, eventually I’d love us to be as ubiquitous as Captain Morgan and Jack Daniels and be the go-to Welsh brand for spiced rum, similarly to how AU vodka and Penderyn are in their respective markets. We want to wave the Welsh flag, which is also why we’ve called it ‘Coal and Gold’ to represent the two products we are most famous for. Our spiced rum is the colour of gold and assuming many people will use a mixer of coke then that’s the visual of coal.

We want to give back to the community, so while we do need to make money, it’s more about giving back. I’ve also written another book called 'The Porthcawl Pantry', where all proceeds go to charity. So, if we could push Welsh products both inside and outside of Wales while continuing to support amazing charities in Wales then that would be the dream.

Network with Dai on Connect >>

Ymunwch â GlobalWelsh

Dewch yn rhan o dyfiant rhwydwaith ar-lein o bobl Gymeig sy’n cydweithio ar gyfer y gorau i Gymru gan gefnogi eraill, archwilio cyfleoedd busnes a rhannu gwybodaeth.

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