A visit to Bundaberg, QLD, wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the world-famous rum distillery.
Bundaberg Rum (my personal favourite) was first distilled back in 1888 when a group of mates came up with a way to use the excess molasses resulting from the local sugar cane production. What they came up with was to become one of the most recognised rums in Australia. The first batch rolled off the production line in 1889, all 22,500 gallons of it.
The distillery survived two devastating fires – one in 1907, and then again in 1936 caused by a lightning strike. This one completely destroyed the distillery with millions of litres of molasses flowing into the nearby Burnett River setting it alight. The distillery rebuilt however, opening three years later.
Almost as iconic as the name is the unique polar bear logo, Bundy R Bear, created by the marketer Sam McMahon in 1961. Sam is also responsible for square bottle design.
We purchased the Distillery Tour ticket, which also included the Museum Experience.
The Museum Experience is an interactive, self-paced tour through the history of rum making in Bundaberg. They say to allow about an hour for the tour, which I think is right on the money.
Each section of the museum is housed in a 75,000 litre vat that once held the precious rum. It was fascinating to learn about the history and how the rum was made. The ‘wall of rum’ was very impressive, with unusual and special edition bottles on display.
Following on from the Museum Experience, the main distillery tour started after a short safety video (the distillery is highly flammable after all). We toured through the whole process from beginning to end. We saw the huge molasses well (5 million litres of molasses – be prepared for the smell!). We sampled some molasses, which was eye-opening to those that had never tasted it. We learnt how they ferment and distill the liquids, and how the rum is aged for a minimum of two years before bottling.
Did you know that rum has only three ingredients – molasses, yeast and water?
At the conclusion of the tour we got a chance to receive two samples each from the Tasting Bar of the top shelf range of Bundaberg Rums, which went down a treat. And of course, we didn’t leave empty handed, with several bottles of rum from the onsite shop making their way into our van!
We missed out on doing the “Blend your own rum” experience where you learn the art of blending. At the end of the tour you end up with a unique rum, crafted by yourself, in two 700ml bottles. How good would that be! Next time for sure.