Ben has never felt more at home than now in a Bundaberg rum distillery. Go Ben!
Bundaberg is the only place in Australia which combines all of the sugar-related processes. There's a sugar mill, refinery and rum distiller all in the one spot. Queensland's rich, volcanic soil is perfect for sugar farming and they turn out the finest quality cane.
Bundaberg Rum is Australia's biggest selling spirit, with 10 percent of the spirit market and 90 percent of the dark rum market. The polar bear trademark and square bottle are very distinctive the bear was used to persuade people in other states that it was not purely a tropical drink, but could be used medicinally to ward off winter chills.
Bundaberg first began producing sugar commercially in 1872, with the real boom coming in the 1880s. With that growth there was the problem of what to do with waste molasses after the sugar was extracted. Of course it could be converted into rum, so little distilleries popped up all over Queensland.
The sugar content is at its peak between July and November, when entire crops are set alight. This burns off unwanted foliage, leaving the cane intact. Once the flames have died and the fields have cooled, the cane is harvested and transported by train to Bundaberg's mills as quickly as possible.
Factory tours start with a short film on the history of the distillery and then move to the molasses well. This is produced by crushing cane and extracting the juice, which is then purified to extract raw sugar crystals. The remaining syrup is molasses. Visitors can look down into the vats and taste some of the thick syrup.
Distillation is the next stage. Bundy rum is double distilled to concentrate the alcohol content. During the process, residual material is extracted and this dunder is used on local fields to assist the growth of the next crop.
Maturation occurs over two years in enormous vats in the bond store. Ninety percent of the flavour develops during this period.
Bottling is the last stop, and it's a colourful process. Bottles are filled and sealed and labels are applied.
The Commercial Hotel was built in 1895 and markets itself as a small hotel with a big personality. It looks rather like a ship, with a nautical theme throughout. It is a popular place for locals, particularly cane workers, to quench their thirsts and enjoy big pub meals.
A succession of owners has been careful to keep the original feeling of the hotel. There are six accommodation rooms for visitors.
Four-and-a-half hours drive north of Brisbane
Bundaberg Rum Distillers tours cost $25 for adults and $12.50 for under-18s. They run on the hour, seven days a week, from 10am to 3pm on weekdays and 10am until 2pm on weekends and holidays.
Please note prices are valid at time of transmission and to the best of our knowledge are inclusive of GST.
The Bundaberg Rum Distillery
Ph: (07) 4131 2999 Fax: (07) 4131 firstname.lastname@example.org
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