True Aussie Spirit!
We take a tour through the famous Bundaberg Rum Distillery
126 years and still going as strong as ever! The Bundaberg Distilling Company produces one of Australia’s most favourite sprits, the famous Bundaberg Rum or ‘Bundy’ as its often called. A smooth, rich and full bodied rum that is often enjoyed straight or commonly mixed with cola or ginger beer. The Bundaberg Rum brand is as iconic to Australia as the Sydney Opera House and the meat pie. Everyone recognises the big white polar bear and instantly makes a connection to the drink. The ‘Bundy Bear’ mascot has helped Bundaberg Rum become very popular in modern culture thanks to his cool image and use in some very clever TV commercials.
Now, whether you are a fan of rum or not, no visit to the interesting city of Bundaberg would be complete without a visit to the Bundaberg Distilling Company. On our trip earlier this year we stopped by and booked a tour for a ‘behind the scenes’ look at its production.
Tours of the Bundaberg Distilling Company (BDC) are conducted hourly where you can take a self guided tour through interactive displays, touch screens, working models and sensory displays to learn about the products development and the company’s history. The guided tour then takes you deep into a working distillery to explore the whole rum making process. The tour guide talks about how the BDC was formed and the significant events and milestones throughout the company’s history including fires, floods, drought and the effects of the depression. Established in 1888 by a consortium of local sugar cane farmers. Molasses left over from the sugar milling process was piling up and was becoming a problem. It was heavy to transport and turning it into stock feed wasn’t worth the effort. Something needed to be done with it. The ingenious decision to start turning the molasses into rum obviously paid off resulting in ‘Bundy’ becoming a household name and Australia’s highest selling rum.
The tour continued and took us past the worlds largest molasses wells (where the molasses is held). Molasses is transferred directly from the sugar mill next door. We then passed the massive fermentation tanks where the molasses is mixed with other ingredients such as water and yeast and left to ferment before it is put through a distilling process. The rum is then stored in one of the 283 large timber vats that are made locally from an American Oak. Each vat holds 75000lts which equates to around $7 million dollars of rum or 225000 bottles. That’s a lot of rum!
We were very surprised to learn that the majority of the rum was no longer actually bottled on site. Instead the rum is transported to Sydney at night for bottling via ‘ghost trucks’…….namely because they are unmarked trucks and not because they contain spirits (pun intended). The cooler temperatures of the night make for safer transport conditions.
The Bundaberg Distilling Company conducts over 2500 tours each year and in 2009 was ranked as Queensland’s 4th most favourite tourist attraction. A few interesting facts are that 96% of all the rum produced is sold in Australia, 3% to New Zealand and only 1% to the rest of the world.
At the completion of the tour we stopped by the Bondstore for some tastings and grabbed ourselves a bottle of their exclusive rum liqueur to take home. There was also lots of other goodies to purchase such as souvenirs, gift ideas, clothing and bar accessories. We found it to be a fascinating and informative tour and was a real highlight to our visit to Bundaberg.