Saudi oilfield moonshine inspires new rum brand from Penderyn

Nigel Brown of Arabia, one of the entrepreneurs behind the Siddiqui brand

SAUDI Arabia isn’t a country that jumps to mind when considering the world’s great spirits producers, but it does have an association with a new rum brand.

Siddiqui is inspired by the moonshine produced by western oil workers during their time in Saudi Arabia. Highly illegal, as Saudi has prohibited alcohol since the 1950s, it was allegedly secretly distilled and enjoyed for decades, and codenamed ‘siddiqui’ – Arabic for ‘my friend’ – to avoid detection.

The new Siddiqui rums, both brown and white, are being produced more openly by Penderyn Distillery in Wales, but are said to have been inspired by the original illicit recipes from the ‘Blue Flame’ instruction book that circulated amongst the oil industry workforce.

“Siddiqui was the gift of relaxation the oil workers all made for themselves,” declared the colourful press release that accompanied the brand launch.

“There are so many stories, some more illicit than others. They kept the workers going making the ‘best damn moonshine this world has seen’. Work hard, play hard is the oil drillers’ motto, deep in the bad ass desert of exotic Arabia pulling the black gold.”

Ladies enjoying a rum at the bar, almost exactly like they don’t in Saudi Arabia

It continues: “Being parched after a long hot day, there wasn’t a lot to do in the compound so they let loose. Boy did they party. The parties are legendary, never to be repeated.”

The Siddiqui brand was founded by ‘two good old Texan Oil boys’ Aaron Hees and Rich Chimblo, with help from ‘entrepreneur and builder of brands’ Nigel Brown and ‘passionate desert moonshiner’ Theresa Huisman.

“This story is about pioneers, oilmen and their strong women, that made it happen, living in a constrained world, we made better for ourselves and the world around us, the lives they led, the parties like no other, everyone on the same boat blazing new trails. This is their story!”