When Ollie Blackett lost his job in the financial sector in London due to Covid he went to pick seaweed on the Solway shore.

His family has lived at Arbigland on the Dumfries and Galloway coast for generations. It was there that he got the idea to use local hero John Paul Jones - regarded as the father of the US navy - as the inspiration to produce a local rum.

He now hopes to conquer the American market with his drink which is flavoured with the seaweed gathered close to home. "I used to work in the City in London and was made redundant because of Covid and met up for some cocktails with a friend from university," he explained.

"Quite a few cocktails later we kind of came up with the idea of John Paul Jones. I'm from Arbigland where John Paul Jones was born and always knew his kind of adventurous, crazy story and thought it would work really well in the brand - especially a rum brand - because when he died his body was actually pickled in rum."

University friend Finn Gill had always wanted to work in the industry but Ollie admits he had little business experience himself. "We wanted to bring as much of John Paul Jones into the brand and flavours as possible," said Ollie.

"So we use seaweeds, which we picked from the shores just around Arbigland and with that, we just sat around on the kitchen counter and developed the different rums - so it was quite a fun Covid." They get their base spirit from Jamaica and then add the local element.

"It's a steeping process," he explained. "We dry out the seaweed that we pick and we put it in along with other ingredients."

Their first rum - Lowland - has been followed by two more and a ready-to-drink can. It is now stocked in London in Fortnum and Mason and members clubs but also closer to home in Dumfries and Galloway.

Now they hope to take it further afield. "We have raised £200,000 for the business and hope to raise another £1m to launch it in America," said Ollie.

"At the moment we're selling roughly 10,000 bottles a year, so not anywhere near where we'd like to be hitting. But we're getting it in the right places which I suppose at our stage is the important thing and then - when that grows a bit - more volume comes."

He said it was difficult to compete with the big guns in the industry but they won gold earlier this year in a blind tasting at a trade show in Orlando. "America is our big goal, but it's a different kettle of fish over there and it's working out our best tack to attack it," he said.

"But in the UK, in general, premium run is really on the up. So I think we're riding the wave as best we can at the moment."