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The Backstory

This is the true tale of a guy once called 'The Crazy Seaweed Man' by TV Chef and Presenter, James Martin, and his love of cooking with seaweed and then ultimately spiced rum!

There are two roads to tread here, you can go way back in time to learn about the history of laver seaweed and real pirates in Wales or recount the more recent journey that brought about the finest tasting spiced rum you'll ever drink!

The Historical Background How Barti Rum came to be

The Journey : Laver Seaweed, Food & Spiced Rum

The Story to Date

2023. New Products and Prioritising Sustainability

Outside of the Barti business and Jonathan's latest venture as a 16th Century pub landlord, he is spear heading world leading research into the viability of seaweed as a carbon capture mechanism, something which could be a global game changer, and in the least, will make Barti Rum a carbon negative company in not too many years to come.

Barti Cream Liqueur is introduced to the range in the autumn and immediately picks up an award as the Best New Product in Wales, as voted for by the buyers at renowned trade event Taste Wales.

2020. Barti Rum's Fan Base Increases Despite the Pandemic.

Despite the hardship for the hospitality sector during the pandemic Barti secures itself as the third best selling spirit in the portfolio of the biggest regional food service wholesaler in Wales, behind only mainstream brands Gordon’s Gin and Smirnoff Vodka. More and more people in and outside of Wales are discovering Jonathan's popular drink!

2019. Building A Brand

Barti Spiced Rum begins to really take off in Wales, especially as a new wave of rum lovers comes crashing in over the slowly plateauing gin craze. Barti builds itself as a brand for those much like Jonathan Williams. Driven by passion, creative, eco conscious and enthralled by the outdoors and what tales of adventure they have to offer.

2017. Barti Ddu Rum is Born

Jonathan, takes two weeks off after the birth of his second daughter & returns to Cafe Mor HQ with excitement & a new business idea combining his favourite things; Seaweed, a great local story, (this time a pirate named 'Barti Ddu') & RUM. He'd already begun developing the flavour profile and sourcing expertly distilled rum from the Caribbean. Barti Ddu Rum was born.

Having always been a rum girl, it didn’t take much persuasion for Fran to get involved in the rum business and step away from Cafe Mor. Fran becomes a partner & later full time Managing Director.

2012-2016. ‘Cafe Mor’ Wows Crowds With Seaweed Inspired Menu

The seaweed inspired menu is a hit and wins gold at the British Street Food Awards! Café Mor caters for the athletes in the Olympic village, Glastonbury & other major UK events. Café Mor wins a permanent spot to trade from at home in Pembrokeshire at Freshwater West, the very beach at the centre of the laverbread scene in years past.

Fran Barnikel joins on a temp graduate placement helping Jonathan to grow his sideline of sea inspired condiments and crackers.

2010. Jonathan Williams is Homesick

Staring out of his landlocked Swindon office window, working in sustainability, but pining for Pembroke and his passions, cooking, story telling and the sea.

Captivated by harvesting wild laver seaweed at his local beach, from the preservation of the last drying hut. Jonathan acquires a taste for the seaweed himself and so inspired, he starts ‘The Pembrokeshire Beach Food Company’ trading his seaweed lobster rolls, sea plant salads and beach burgers at ‘Café Mor’. Jonathan quits his day job in Swindon.

I just wanted to make the best tasting spiced rum in the world, so I could drink it. The decision was as simple as that.

— Jonathan Williams - Founder

The Inspiration : Welsh Pirates & Seaweed Farming

The Heritage Of Our Heartland

1607. The First Record Of Welsh People Eating Seaweed

Laverbread is recorded as a staple food, eaten in South Wales in William Camden’s work, Britania. The people of Swansea and the surrounding area are among the most charmed by this savoury green ingredient and devour it routinely, normally as part of their breakfast.

1682. A Young Boy Leaves Pembrokeshire

A boy called John Roberts was born in Casnewydd Bach (Little Newcastle in English), a tiny village in Pembrokeshire, West Wales. The boy grew and left home aged 11, he is recorded as joining the British Royal Navy in the lowest of ranks aged just 13.

1719. Roberts Is Forced To Join His Pirate Captors

Age 37 Roberts’ long lowly career in the Navy has been habitually unremarkable until one day the ship he is working aboard is captured by pirates. Reluctant to join them, but less inclined towards being murdered, Roberts is initiated into the pirate crew which happens to be captained by another Pembrokeshire man, Howel Davies from Milford Haven.

1720. Bartholemew The New Captain

Immediately hitting it off with his captor, John Roberts and Hywel Davies speak Welsh to one another and Davies values Roberts’ excellent navigational skills which were entirely overlooked by his former royal naval colleagues.

When Davies is killed, the very popular second in command is immediately voted in as the new captain and takes on the alias name Bartholemew Roberts.

1721. The Most Prolific Pirate Career

Bartholemew is wanted dead by several of the richest countries in the world for his notoriously effective interceptions of Atlantic trading ships. Famed for his unprecedented success at seizing huge amounts of treasure over a short period, fiercely enforcing his pirate code which ensures every crew member (a third of whom were black) has an equal share and vote, ensuring his men don’t mistreat women, and being unapologetically unique in terms of style and attitude for the time.

1722. Forever Known As Barti Ddu Or In English Black Bart

After his death Bartholomew Roberts becomes known as the infamous Black Bart, or Barti Ddu in Welsh. Barti Ddu was long constrained by poverty and the societal norms of the seventeen hundreds before his capture which ultimately freed him to be the individual he truly was. It’s well documented that Bartholemew Roberts spent very little time in the company of women, some historians speculate that he was gay or in fact a she.

1879. A Local Shipwreck Over 100yrs After Barti's Death

The Thomas M Reed, bound for Liverpool from San Fransisco with tonnes of precious cargo. The ship never made it, wrecking off the Pembrokeshire coast. Cargo was strewn along Freshwater West, a secluded beach on the most South West tip of Wales, attracting people from as far as Swansea. The visitors noticed the abundant laver seaweed growing at Freshwater West realising it could be used to up production of their beloved laverbread. A deal was struck with the locals and laver began being picked by local women and transported to Swansea for processing.

1940. Seaweed Collecting At Freshwater West Peaks Then Fades Away

The best of the seaweed harvesting years at Freshwater West are over as food fashions change and the availability of new and exciting delicacies arrive.

1995. A Physical Symbol Of Pembrokeshire's Seaweed Harvesting Heritage

The last remaining seaweed drying hut at Freshwater West beach is restored by The National Trust and becomes a grade two listed building. A precious part of Pembrokeshire's history is preserved for future generations to to discover.