“Splice the mainbrace” … creating a new brand from old, Mainbrace Rum rises from the banks of the Demerara river 

November 1, 2019

“Splice the mainbrace” is an order given aboard naval vessels to issue the crew with an alcoholic drink. Originally an order for one of the most difficult emergency repair jobs aboard a sailing ship, it became a euphemism for authorised celebratory drinking afterward, and then the name of an order to grant the crew an extra ration of rum.

Mainbrace is also a small fishing village in Cornwall, England, where its small and remote sea coves likely gave good cover for the illicit importing of rum into the country, avoiding the watchful eye of the local customs house.

And it’s also close to the weekend home of David Haigh, who for the last 25 years has devoted his life to building the world’s leading independent brand valuation business, largely a highly analytical financial activity, but with a dash of creativity too. David is a good friend, and always full of entrepreneurial ideas for building brands, enjoying a tipple, and finding ways to be tax efficient whilst doing it.

One technique he has helped many clients to do successfully is to buy and sell old brand names, or trademarks, which might have lost their way, or no longer fit with a company’s portfolio. Having bought an old redundant brand, a new owner can rapidly reenergise it with new designs, concepts and marketing.

Even if you don’t have the expert distilling, packaging, and distribution capabilities to hand, today it is incredibly easy to launch a “virtual” brand, engaging third parties to do each of these tasks for you under license or with a commission.

Search online and you will still come across old, drab bottles of Mainbrace Rum. Mostly out of stock.

Then take a look at the new Mainbrace Rum website and you will find a fresh and revitalised brand, with a beautifully crafted bottle, a flourishing storyline of its origins on the banks of the Demerara River, and a nifty tagline about being “spliced not spiced”.

In fact there is quite a trend in brand folk who spend most of their career advising others, to have a final pre-retirement flourish launching their own brand, typically some form of alcohol. And whilst popular culture is very much into craft beers and exotic gins right now, perhaps rum is the next up and coming drink, particularly mixed as a cocktail.

So congratulations David, it might not yet be the world’s most valuable rum brand, but it’s full of your values and passion.

Here, just as a taster, is an extract from the recreated brand story:

Traditionally crafted with a modern twist, Mainbrace is a unique golden ‘spliced rum’. A premium blend of unaged agricole from Martinique and 2-5 year old rums from 3 different stills in Guyana. 

A saying synonymous with celebration, “Splice the Mainbrace” was born from courage, loyalty and teamwork. It embodies the spirit of celebrating a hard-won victory.

Originating in the heart of battle, a brave team of sailors would attempt to ‘”splice the mainbrace” if it was damaged to save the main mast of a ship – a difficult, but vital task. If they succeeded, they would be rewarded with a double ration of rum to celebrate along with a toast to “the Queen – God bless her”. The sweetest victories always come after the hardest of battles.

A blend of fine rum

Traditionally crafted with a modern twist, Mainbrace is a unique golden ‘spliced rum’. A premium blend of unaged agricole from La Favourite Distillerie and 2-5 year old rums from 3 different stills in Guyana. Mainbrace is produced using locally sourced sugar cane as well as traditional pot and column still distillation. The same methods and stills were used to create rum for the British Navy as far back as 1732. We believe our rum speaks for itself and that is why there are no sweeteners or colourings added to our blend.


Our blend originates from Guyana near the banks of the Demerara river in 1670, a region that’s home to its own eponymous variety of rum. Ours is crafted with rums aged between 2-5 years from 3 different stills, all bringing their own unique character and natural sweetness to the blend.

The first part of our blend comes from a double wooden pot still in Port Mourant. These stills have been making rum for the navy since the 19th century. The second part is from the wooden Coffey still originally found at the Enmore Sugar Estate. This is the last still of its kind in the world. The final part of our blend comes from an original four column French Savalle still, dating back to the 18th century.


The agricole part of our blend comes from La Favorite in Martinique, which was established in 1842 and is well-known for their punchy agricoles even at low abvs. The initial earthy textures you experience when sipping Mainbrace can be attributed to this distillery. The distillery is powered on a closed loop system that uses the excess fibres (bagasse) of sugar cane to fuel its furnaces. These then create the steam to distil their Rhums making the distillery extremely sustainable. In fact, they are the last distillerie in Martinique still working purely from steam.

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