Cornwall could become home to the UK's first rum to be created using geothermal power - with the £10 million first stage of the project now on the horizon.

Matthew Clifford, founder of the Cornish Geothermal Distillery Company, has submitted outline plans for an ultra high-tech biome on the outskirts of Redruth.

The aim is for the site at United Downs to create a 100 per cent sustainable cask facility in which to mature rum, using heat from underground.

Plans have now gone in to Cornwall Council for the site, to incorporate Matthew's patent-pending rum “cask maturation pods,” designed by Grimshaw Architects, alongside Buro Happold, to be carbon neutral.

Falmouth Packet:

An internal shot of the biome. Picture: Grimshaw Architects

The former offshore helicopter pilot-turned-entrepreneur is working closely with Geothermal Engineering Limited (GEL), already based at United Downs and working to source heat from Cornwall's historic mines via its 'hot rocks' project.

The project would initially see ethically produced rum, distilled around the world, brought to the site and laid down in oak casks made, or repair, by the distillery company's own coopers (barrel makers) and stored in the maturation biome to enhance the product’s quality and flavour.


The biome, approximately 14 metres tall at its highest point, would incorporate four maturation pods, each holding 800 of the 200 litre casks - amounting to 640,000 litres of rum in total, which would be tropically matured over a period of five to ten years.

It is predicted the project would create 30 jobs.

The distillery team hopes the rum cask maturation facility would be up and running by the late summer of 2022 - and that a demonstrable success of this “catalyst phase” could draw further interest and investment into the creation of a full £30million Cornish geothermal rum distillery with potential to create up to 100 jobs.

Falmouth Packet:

How the biome would look at United Downs. Picture: Grimshaw Architects

Current more than £150,000 have has been invested in investigating parcels of land in the United Downs area - including, thanks to support of race track operators Purple Cornwall - land at the United Downs Raceway.

All sites are a pipeline and cable route from where GEL’s project team has drilled more than 5km into ancient granite to access deep geothermal heat to harness clean, renewable electricity and heat in 2022.

Matthew said: "We’ve been working on our deep geothermal distillery project for the last two years and it is hugely exciting to finally share our plans for this initial ‘catalyst’ stage.

“We aim to combine our absolute passion for rum with much-needed investment and quality full-time jobs in this part of Cornwall, utilising local skills and businesses.

Falmouth Packet:

Former pilot Matthew Clifford is behind the project

"We will be sharing our vision with the communities close to United Downs, so that they have the opportunity to give us their thoughts and impart local knowledge, which will be invaluable to this project.”

Initial jobs would include highly skilled master coopers and master blenders, as well as offering apprenticeships to local young people.

It represents a coming together of Cornwall's historical links with rum smuggling and mining and its industry of the future.

The distillery said it wanted to work with the Cornwall Mining World Heritage Site team to preserve the historic area and to pay tribute to those who worked above and below the land back to medieval times.

For more information visit