Why you need to experience the Bundaberg Rum Distillery
Bundaberg Rum has been deeply embedded in the Queensland (and Australian) cultural DNA since 1888. Even if you aren’t a rum drinker, you know what it is. But the distillery – and the rich amber liquid it produces – has come a long way since its original iteration.
So far, in fact, that one of Bundaberg Rum’s 10 variants was crowned the ‘World’s Best Rum’ at the 2017 global World Rum Awards. Sure, it may seem unexpected that the world’s best rum calls an unassuming regional Queensland town home, but there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to Bundaberg’s charms.
The secret lies in the burnished red, rich volcanic soil of Bundaberg’s canefields; high-quality sugar equals high-quality molasses, which in turn becomes high-quality rum. There’s also a closely guarded, unique strain of yeast that combine to create a taste like no other.
But if you make the pilgrimage – about four hours by car from Brisbane – to experience Bundaberg Rum on its hallowed ground, you’ll quickly discover that the drink itself is only part of the story. Here’s why the trip deserves a place on your bucket list.
Go on tour
If Bundaberg Rum’s distillery walls could talk, the story they would tell would be full of fires, flood, and community spirit. Every year more than 60,000 visitors head to the distillery and its visitor centre for a tour that’s as surprising as it is historically rich.
Rather than just giving a tour of the distillery, the aim is to create an experience by immersing you in the intrigue-filled tale of Queensland’s most iconic rum’s origins. The tour – which began operating more than 30 years ago – takes you through the whole of Bundaberg Rum’s history, right up to the present day.
The behind-the-scenes action also goes deep into the whole distillery and the process of spirit creation from the most popular part of the tour – the cavernous barrel house where enormous white oak vats sit silently maturing the spirit within – to the second favourite part: the bar. Here, you can sample a selection of the best rums on offer, including the now famous Bundaberg Blenders Edition 2015.
Like to wander at your own pace? Take a self-guided tour of their immersive Distillery Museum Experience. A transformed “Bondstore” – that is, one of the red brick buildings within which the award-winning rum is aged to perfection – houses the largest collection of Bundaberg Rum bottles in the world.
Become a maker
Following the distillery tour, you’ll head back to the barrel house where you get to play master distiller and blend your own rum. Laid out in front of you is an assortment of liquids from different barrels, including sherry, bourbon, heavy charred American oak, port or scotch whisky, which have all been chosen to create as many unique flavours as possible.
Once you’ve created a personalised blend to take home, the recipe is kept at the distillery so when you run out, all you have to do is order another bottle of your personal blend.
If you’d prefer to leave it to the experts and want to get your hands on some limited-edition rum, then time your Bundaberg visit with the Spirit of Bundaberg festival, Australia’s largest rum and food celebration. At this buzzing annual event, you’ll find low number bottle special releases that aren’t available anywhere else, in quantities so low they often become collectors’ items – and have been known to create a queue or two.
Is the wait worth the line for a special drop of this Aussie icon? We think so.