The enterprising businessman from Havant usually runs an interior design firm, but when the pandemic saw his work dry up, he began to experiment with online marketing.
He created a social media presence based on a story idea of pirates, rum and Portsmouth.
John said: ‘During the summer lockdown my interior design business was quiet due to all the hotels being closed so I decided to do a marketing experiment to see if I could build a drinks brand from scratch, with no actual products.
‘My love of local Portsmouth history, pirate lore and rum led me to create a story based around a secret old pub that was only frequented by pirates.
‘So The Mudlark Tavern was launched on Instagram.
‘Over the following months I would create and post pirate themed pictures about rum and pirate life all centred around the infamous tavern.
‘I wrote a back story for the rum, loosely based on pirate folklore around The Hard in Portsmouth and from childhood holidays to Cornwall.
‘The Instagram page started to gain a lot of traction and daily I was asked where the rum was for sale.
‘At this point I felt I was on to something and set about finding a distiller to get the rum produced.’
A few Zoom calls later, lots of paperwork to secure a licence and John, who says he discovered his own love of rum on holiday to Barbados, had created his own Spiced Pirate Rum.
He said: ‘To date I’ve sold just over 200 bottles and it continues to be well received.
‘So much so I am currently working with a brewery to have my Pirate Pale Ale brewed and that should be ready by the end of May.
‘I’ve got high hopes for the brand moving forward, with a few trademarks approved I hope to expand into other drinks, clothing and pirate paraphernalia.'
John was shocked to see the Royal Navy get in touch to place an order for their shops and museums, with the first delivery being made to the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard this week.
John said: ‘That was a very proud moment.
‘I find it hard to believe that I have gone from sketching an idea on a note pad locked down in my garden in May 2020, to standing on board HMS Warrior launching my rum.’
John’s rum costs £35 per 700ml bottle. It is for sale at Vin Wine Merchants in Emsworth and at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.