In the heart of the Carmarthenshire countryside in the village of Llanddarog lies the domain of the Coles family. Consisting of the White Hart Inn, the Coles brewery and distillery, it’s fair to say the Coles have left their mark on the Welsh food and drink industry.
The Coles business is truly family run with Marcus and daughter Jessica working as the chefs, wife Annabelle working as a waitress, and brother Cain as barman and head brewer.
The Coles bought the White Hart Inn in 1994, a thatched building that has been standing for over 600 years, originally thought to have been built to house stone masons who were building the church nearby. In 1999, the family started producing ale, and developed a micro-brewery. Further expansions in 2011 to the brewery added a cider press, which makes cider using a wide variety of apples.
The family run the biggest craft distillery in Wales where they produce gin, vodka and the first Welsh rum. The family set out to make the first Welsh rum in 2017 after a holiday to the Caribbean. Whilst in Jamaica head distiller Marcus was struck by inspiration whilst drinking a rum cocktail, and decided to do some research at the Jamaican rum factories, about what went into making rum, and how to make it the best quality. No one else in Wales knew how to make rum, so why not learn from the best? Upon arriving back home, they found a source for their molasses, the main ingredient in rum, and started trials to make their award-winning rum using a recipe sourcing their molasses from tropical plantations, yeast imported from the Caribbean, and the purest Welsh water from 300ft below the brewery where it has been filtered through the limestone for millions of years. Coles Distillery has certainly started a trend as they are no longer the only producers of rum in Wales, but they are certainly still the largest as Marcus told me “Our still is massive compared to most people’s, ours is 3500 litres and most are just a couple hundred litres”. Coles are hoping to approach supermarkets soon to stock their Black Bart Rum and Sea Dragon Rum. During the height of the pandemic, Coles used their rum to heroically support the NHS, donating a whole production of rum to be made into hand sanitiser, and further donating the hand sanitiser to local villagers and care homes.
The rum at Coles is far from their only feat. Coles is the first distillery in Wales to make all their spirits - their rum, vodka, gin and whisky - from grain to glass, meaning that they purchase all the raw ingredients to make their spirits. Their whisky takes 3 years and 1 day to mature, and luckily for readers, a new barrel has just been opened just in time to make the perfect father’s day gift.
Buy a bottle or check out Coles’ gift sets of rum and whisky. Coles recommend trying their apple jack whisky, a popular drink in America.
Order from Coles website at https://www.coles.wales/shop or call them on 01267 275395