JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

It's a rum revolution

While there's still a way to go with local rum brands, there seems to be a genuine commitment to developing quality.

While there's still a way to go with local rum brands, there seems to be a genuine commitment to developing quality.

You don't need a history lesson to know that since the earliest days of the struggling New South Wales colony, Australia has been awash with rum.

The quality of what was being traded in Sydney Cove from ships that had rounded Cape Horn in the early 19th century was likely was not great. In fact, I'll personally guarantee you that it was pretty rotgut stuff. 200 years later though and the rums of the Caribbean and South America have become gentrified sippers celebrated the world over.

While there's still a way to go with local rum brands, there seems to be a genuine commitment to developing liquids that will compete in the quality stakes with the world's best. You might say that Australia is seeing a sort of rum revolution.

Bundaberg Dark Oak.

Bundaberg Dark Oak.

Since 1884, When Australia issued its first license to distil spirits to Queensland's Beenleigh Distillery we've had a taste for local rum. The biggest success story comes from the Bundaberg Distilling Company which had a rough ride to get where it is today having beaten distillery fires and floods. It's a much loved Aussie icon – the epitome of the Aussie battler. Bundaberg as long been the producer Australia's best-selling rum and enjoys approximately 90 per cent of the rum market on these shores.

Despite having a model which is obviously working for them volume-wise, Bundaberg has been disappearing off the shelves of many of that nation's top cocktail bars in favour of imported brands. But the brand has plans for curbing this trend.

The Bundaberg Distilling Company has been seriously investing in the development of new more premium rums to get bartenders and aficionados on side. In 2009, the Bundaberg team developed their 'Master Distillers' Collective' to develop, age and blend hand-crafted liquids to rival the best boutique rums in the world. What this primarily involves is wood and lots of it.

You see by Australian law you are not allowed to put the word 'rum' on a bottle should it be aged in wood barrels or vats for less than two years. That's fair dinkum – raw 'rum' straight off the stills is pretty fiery stuff, but one thing the law doesn't mention is the size of said vat. The majority of vats at Bundaberg Rum sit at around 55,000 to 70,000 litres, so while the spirits are given a chance to mellow there's very little flavour imparted from the wood. But times are a changing.

Bundaberg have sourced smaller barrels (closer to 200 litres) from all over the globe – bourbon barrels from America, Cognac from France and Sherry from Spain all in a bid to develop a new line of extensively aged limited release Bundaberg rums for serious aficionados. The Master Distillers' Collective rums have been met with critical success at global spirits competitions.

Matt Bruhn, Director of Bundaberg Distilling Co. says: "Only ideas which are genius become rums in the Master Distillers' Collective, and we look forward to seeing what future inventions our exception team of distillers, bondsmen and expert blenders come up with next."

Australian producers are also investing in higher quality rum. Inner Circle Rum, recently acquired by the Australian owned and operated Vok Beverages is now being produced at the Beenleigh distillery in Queensland. Until recently the rum brand which started life at the Colonial Sugar Refinery in Pyrmont, Sydney, was produced in Fiji and bottled in New Zealand before being shipped back to Australia for sale.

Blake Kramer, brand manager for the Inner Circle Rum brand, tells us that the move back to Australia alone has had an impact on the product.

"[Inner Circle] is now produced using locally sourced molasses, which is one of the key ingredients that will affect the flavour profile of rum," explains Kramer. "The old Inner Circle Rum was produced from Fijian molasses, which is less refined... The Australian molasses is more refined due to the production process, which imparts a cleaner flavoured rum."

"Given that Inner Circle Rum now is produced at the Beenleigh distillery we have the flexibility to quickly diversify our production methods and trial multiple aging options.  Small batch barrels is something we are exploring with the Master Blender, Wayne Stewart," adds Kramer.

By all accounts there's a bright future for Australian rum. Soon enough you'll pass on the Cuban, Barbadian or Jamaican for a bottle of real Aussie gold.

I Still Call Australia Home

30ml Inner Circle Green Dot Rum
10ml Tamborine Mountain Distillery Choc Hazelnut Liqueur
330ml Barons Black Wattle Original Ale

Build ingredients in a tankard over ice. Garnish with a gumnut and a brooding criminal past.

Created by Ben Shipley from Everyday Drinking

Do you drink Australian rum? What needs to improve - if anything?

34 comments so far

  • Love Bundy!

    I just neck it out of the bottle. Call me uncultured or a bogan, but hey I love the stuff. I prefere the taste over the premium brands. People will always bandwagon hating on bundy, domestic beer, commos, falcons et. al. Because it is somewhat highbrow/ trendy to suffer from the cultural cringe towards Australian products.

    However, that inner circle stuff if foul, I was at a pub where some promo girls were handing it out... Bleagh! I should have taken the que from the company using mingers as promo girls!

    Date and time
    October 19, 2012, 11:22AM
    • Yeah, that's not going to happen anytime soon. When a bottle of Mount Gay Extra or Appleton 12, which along with a whole host are now readily available, both $20+ cheaper and a much much better tasting rums than the top of the line Bundy, Australia has a long way to go to be up there with the best Carribean rums in terms of quality and value. Hell, even the infinitely better Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva (which isn't their top shelf rum) will only set you back around $99 if you can get a hold of it.

      the realist
      Date and time
      October 19, 2012, 11:23AM
      • Absolutely spot on.

        Date and time
        October 22, 2012, 5:52PM
    • Love a good rum. Rather partial to the Zacapa XO and the Havana 15+ year old stuff. Solo, naturally.
      Haven't found an Aussie rum to come close yet, but in light of this I may seek some out and give them a try.
      Of course, I still enjoy a Bundy & ginger beer.....almost as good as a Mount Gay & tonic (with lime, of course)

      you're soaking in it
      Date and time
      October 19, 2012, 2:07PM
      • I have not had any of the Bundaberg varieties in a long time, basically as they do not have a good flavour, which is common to Caribbean rums. My favourite has to be Flor De Cana which is from Nicaragua but at $60+ a bottle it's a rare treat for me!

        Date and time
        October 19, 2012, 2:30PM
        • Have you tried Holey Dollar Rum?

          Stuart Gilbert - Master Distiller at Holey Dollar Rum - has been making hugely popular rums for over 10 years now but it is his newest rum creations that really caused a stir around the globe last year when ALL three rums won “Best in Class” Awards in their very first competition – the prestigious and highly competitive International Wine & Spirits Competition 2009.

          The Holey Dollar ‘Overproof’ Rum then went on to beat a vast array of respected Caribbean and West Indian rums to take the overall ‘World’s Best Rum’ Trophy in a unanimous panel vote. Which led to Holey Dollar Rum being announced the ‘Worldwide Distiller of the Year Award”, making them the first Australian company in the show’s 40 year history to claim the title.

          Holey Dollar Rum Distilling Company back in Sydney back in 2008. He was already well-known as an international rum judge and maker of successful rums and but this wasn’t quite enough for a man with a mission to produce superior quality rum. So he starting putting all his skills and efforts into the art of making and blending small quantities of rum with complexity, flavour and diversity, that were still affordable luxuries for the everyday person in Australia - a country whose first currency of trade was rum.

          “The Holey Dollar rums are unique, hand-crafted rums, made in pot-stills with extra ageing in oak barrels. We’re never going to be able to produce a lot but we want to give consumers a better class of rum. Something that could offer high-quality flavour experiences to be savoured alone or open up exciting food and rum pairing opportunities.

          available at First Choice Superstores and selected outlets


          Stuart Gilbert
          Date and time
          October 19, 2012, 3:03PM
          • Are you serious??? They cant even get our beers right! I'm sticking with the Bacardi and Capt Morgan!

            Date and time
            October 19, 2012, 3:39PM
            • I am not sure that you would call it an Australian rum but my favourite rum in the whole world is Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva. It is a tremendously smooth rum with a chocolatey finish. The mouthfeel is very complete and full. It drinks well on the rocks like a whisky would. It comes from Venezuela and is quite hard to get. Strange really, because it is not an expensive rum.

              Date and time
              October 19, 2012, 4:03PM
              • Oh Ben, stick to drinking and forget the history. Around Cape Horn? Better forget the geography too. A lot of our rum came from Campbell's Indian distillery in Calcutta - quality unknown. As to the quality of the British Navy rum sourced from the West Indies - it wasn't so different from today's spirit, and served with a good dunking of water and a squirt of lime juice was probably a decent tipple. That rum travelled around the world and doesn't seem to have suffered for it. My favourite rum tipple is "Nelsons Blood" - a glass of stout with a shot of OP. Disaster in a glass!

                Halls Creek, WA
                Date and time
                October 19, 2012, 4:52PM
                • Comparing Carrabean Rum and Australian Rum is like comparing Irish and Scotch Whiskey. They share similarities in manufacturing and some flavours however are two quite very different drinks.

                  Adam C
                  Date and time
                  October 19, 2012, 5:37PM

                  More comments

                  Make a comment

                  You are logged in as [Logout]

                  All information entered below may be published.

                  Error: Please enter your screen name.

                  Error: Your Screen Name must be less than 255 characters.

                  Error: Your Location must be less than 255 characters.

                  Error: Please enter your comment.

                  Error: Your Message must be less than 300 words.

                  Post to

                  You need to have read and accepted the Conditions of Use.

                  Thank you

                  Your comment has been submitted for approval.

                  Comments are moderated and are generally published if they are on-topic and not abusive.

                  Featured advertisers
                  Executive Style newsletter signup

                  Executive Style newsletter signup The latest news delivered to your inbox twice-weekly.

                  Sign up now