No trip to Bundaberg (or Bundy as its known to locals) would have been complete without a visit to the home of Bundaberg Rum. Bundaberg is an industrial city in Queensland approximately 350km north of Brisbane. Surrounded by hundreds of acres of sugar cane, its only natural that rum is produced here. Personally, I’d never heard of Bundaberg Rum before arriving in Australia although I was aware of their ginger beer being readily available in the UK’s supermarkets. It isn’t just me though, 96% of sales are generated in Australia alone (the majority in Queensland) and 3% is sold to countries for Australian tourists. The remaining 1% is then sold around the rest of the world. I’m sorry Australia but you can’t keep this rum to yourself anymore!
We were welcomed to the distillery with a distinct smell of syrup filling the air. This might have pleased those with a sweet tooth if it didn’t make you feel sick! Turns out the smell is molasses, a liquid which forms after turning sugar cane into sugar as we know it.
A GUIDE TO THE HOME OF BUNDABERG RUM
History of Bundaberg Rum
Having arrived with ten minutes to go before the tour, we had a quick look around the museum which gives a brilliant and detailed history of the rum. Bundaberg Rum was created to resolve a major problem; how to deal with waste molasses from the sugar mills. After a successful meeting at the pub (obviously), Bundaberg Rum was formed in 1888 with the first batch of rum prepared in the following year. The company has survived numerous fires and floods over the years and now it is flourishing. With over $2.1 billion worth of rum onsite, it’s no wonder there’s a 12,000 volt electric fence surrounding the distillery.
Alongside fifteen or so Aussies, we were enthusiastically shown around the working distillery only once we had stowed all items with a battery. This meant no phones, no watches and, disappointingly, no cameras. This is for safety. If anything static comes into contact with the huge wells of molasses, a fire could immediately break out. Once finally through the sacred gates, we were taken through each stage of the rum-making process and our guide explained it all in detail. The tour itself took around an hour or so and was well worth the money alone.
Sampling Bundaberg Rum
If the tour and the museum wasn’t enough for just $30, you are taken to the retail store-come-bar for free samples. You get to choose one rum and one liqueur. After hearing how proud the staff were of winning the world’s best dark rum two years in a row, I had to try the Solera (the current champion). Emma tried the new white rum, Silver Reserve, which is up against Bacardi this year for the world’s best white rum. I preferred the white rum (mixed with lemonade and lime juice) without question but, for dark rum lovers, you can’t look past Solera. It tasted lovely and very strong.
Emma and I chose two different liqueurs; salted caramel and vanilla spice. Both were incredible mixed with single cream and were on another level compared to Baileys. The vanilla spice can only really be drunk at Christmas with its cinnamon flavour. Salted caramel though needs to become every weekend’s treat. We spoke to a few others on the tour and they were already adding the liqueurs to their coffee.
So, whilst the whole experience cost $30, we were treated to approximately $20 worth of rum. It makes perfect financial sense to visit Bundaberg Rum if only for the free samples at the end. The only question now is; where can we buy it once we’re back in the UK? I’m looking forward to introducing my friends to this and sharing the love!
If you’re heading up or down the East Coast of Australia, you really should make a detour to Bundaberg purely to visit the distillery. There might not be much else in the city but this makes it worth it.