Distilling rum in Bristol

Fusion By Design were appointed as lead interior designer by Halewood International Wines & Spirits to design their newest venture, The Bristol and Bath Rum Distillery.


Fusion By Design were appointed as lead interior designer by Halewood International Wines & Spirits to design their newest venture, The Bristol and Bath Rum Distillery. This amazing 7,500 sq ft multi-functional venue houses a 500-litre double retort rum still, traditionally used by Caribbean distillers, to make the Cornish branded, Dead Man’s Fingers Spiced Rum. The rum is distilled at both the original Rum & Crab Shack (in Cornwall) and this new venue, where it will be shipped across the UK and overseas. The distillery’s bar will stock more than 150 different rums from more than 50 different origins and in addition, the distillery runs a rum school, allowing visitors to create their own spiced rum in small copper stills. Meanwhile, the bar and rum school appeal to the current trend to provide ‘experiences’, welcoming locals and visitors from across the UK and further afield, to enjoy immersive skills where they can learn more about provenance-led craft rums.

The fundamental design concept of the scheme was to provide a showcase for the Dead Man’s Fingers brand as well as offering customers a learning experience about the distillation of spiced rum within a rum lab and bar school. The brief from the Halewood team was to create an interior which strongly reflects the brand’s tone of voice and its market positioning. Key words and qualities such as vibrant, mischievous, non-conformist, unorthodox were all important in the development of the design’s identity. The DMF product is authentically Caribbean, born in Cornwall it is mischievous, but it isn’t about kitsch or tacky. We were challenged to capture this fun and non-conventional nature within our design.


We looked to incorporate the key brand qualities to generate a design palette that used a great deal of reclaimed materials; industrial finishes and street art which contrast with the highly polished copper stills, marble bar tops and an eclectic mixture of furniture. We looked to create bespoke items specifically designed for the venue, the most striking of which is the skull fabric pattern which is used extensively on the upholsteries. This design was worked up as a collaboration between Fusion By Design and Beth at BoBo1325, the final design is a cheeky take on the key ingredients within the rum using abstract botanical prints in bold, striking colours and tones. The iconic DMF skull is also incorporated elsewhere into the interior such as the light fittings which feature illuminated skull pendants and the graffiti artwork adorning the walls which was carried out by an artist local to Bristol. This combination creates an environment which is both unique in its appearance and its operational offer.

The site is located on the high street leading to the Clifton area of the city which is a particularly steep incline therefore the venue is split across numerous levels, connected via an open metal staircase allowing various sight lines through the distillery. At ground floor level, visible from the street, is the copper rum still with the main bar counter adjacent showcasing the extensive rum selection on offer, displayed on the metal back bar framed against an exposed brick wall. From here you can see down to the lower ground floor level which houses the rum barrel display within a glass enclosure. At mezzanine level, there is a second bar with mixed height seating, bold neon light features and raw wall and ceiling finishes. Concealed to the rear of this bar is a hidden “speak easy” style snug area which is decorated in a more refined way, with plush velvet upholstered walls and deep wenge stained timber panelling. This intimate area comes to life at night thanks to the lush finishes which are complimented by the “urban art” adorning the walls providing a true feeling of exclusivity.

The first floor features the rum and bar school teaching rooms and events spaces, which continue the alternative textures and material design approach. The teaching rooms house individual copper stills, tiled wall finishes and rich timbers. The bar school counter is finished in zinc and blackened timber panelling creating a rich and exciting environment in which to learn as well as relax.