From delivering wine boxes around Essex in a Majestic van, to making Holly Willoughby visibly delirious in front of millions – it’s been a meteoric rise for the man behind ‘the rum which broke the internet’.
In a new series of series of ‘where are they now’ blogs – Majestic are celebrating some of the fantastic alumni who have passed through the business, and gone on to have amazing careers in wine, beer and spirits.
First up is Tom Hurst.
Tom began his career in the drinks world in 1998, when he joined Majestic straight out of university. He moved from his home town of Stoke to take up a position as Trainee Manager in Gidea Park, Romford – before going on to work in the Shoreditch and Cheltenham branches.
Now the Founder & CEO of Rockstar Spirits, Tom has gone full circle – and moved from employee to supplier. His spirits have received huge critical acclaim, with ‘Pineapple Grenade’ shooting to fame as best flavoured spirit on ITVs This Morning by Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby (a clip which has been viewed 16m times on The Mail – after Holly tried to swipe the bottle for her dressing room), before being crowned one of ‘the best rums in the world’ by GQ.
We caught up with Tom to talk through those first Majestic days, what makes Majestic so special – and why it was so important for him to get the rums he now produces into the hands of our customers and staff.
As a fresh faced graduate, what was it about Majestic which drew you into the drinks industry in the first place?
Majestic offered both a great graduate program scheme – and a culture that really appealed. As well as that, there is the opportunity to gain further skills with the WSET training program.
What’s your favourite favourite memory from your time at Maj?
I used to have a weekly delivery to Southend to a retirement home. One of the residents had a regular order and ran an informal wine club with other residents. I would always stop for a cup of tea, chat wine and put the world to rights.
Majestic were real pioneers in offering a drinks delivery service and always had a culture that allowed for being able to spend time with customers and develop long term relationships and this has stood with me for the rest of my career.
What made you want to get stocked in Majestic?
Obviously my history means I always have a soft spot for Majestic but the key element of wanting to get my brands stocked in Majestic is that the staff have the time and the knowledge to really explain the back story of the products, and sell them in the right way.
That includes being able to recommend the right mixers and best way to enjoy them and develop an understanding of what will suit the individual customers. It’s a great advantage for smaller brands such as myself, where the story and provenance is a key part of the product proposition.
And what makes you think Majestic and Rockstar are the right mix for the future?
I have been overwhelmed by the response to the brand with fantastic support right from the top and all the way through the business. Getting Twitter ‘bants’ from the MD Joshua Lincoln definitely reinforced the fact that we were working with a partner who shared the brand values of Rockstar Spirits.
I am seriously committed to quality drinks but without ever losing a sense of fun and enjoyment that should always be integral to the drinks industry.
Tom’s spirits are now available in all Majestic outlets, and online. Find our more below, or browse the Rockstar range here – Rockstar Majestic
Rockstar Two Swallows Spiced Rum 50cl
Captain Webb’s Two Swallows spiced rum is produced by the legendary Diamond Distillery in Guyana. Infused with candied citrus and salted caramel, it’s a delcious balance between creamy sweet caramel, salty notes and fiery ginger. So what about the name? Two Swallows was created by Thomas Hurst as a tribute to his Great Uncle, Naval Captain Matthew Webb, who was the first man to swim the English Channel and become a Victorian superstar! Captain Webb died in 1883 when trying swim the whirlpool rapids at Niagara Falls, and Thomas Hirst named this rum after the traditional sailor’s tattoo that was thought to help carry souls to heaven. Two Swallows botanicals and spicing is perfectly matched with traditional Cola recipes to create a truly world class Rum & Coke.
Rockstar Pineapple Grenade Overproof Spiced Rum 50cl
At 65% and infused with pineapple and salted caramel, the Pineapple Grenade is one of Tom’s most technical and complex spiced rums. With flavours of tangy mango, pineapple and caramel, it’s best enjoyed over one cube of ice.
Rockstar Grapefruit Grenade Overproof Spiced Rum 50cl
With bittersweet grapefruit tempered by rich honeycomb sweetness, and hints of cinnamon and ginger, it’s perfect for rum cocktails.