How Qld distillers are leading rum’s renaissance
MOVE over gin, rum is set to become the hot new spirit led by a boom in Queensland distillers producing premium ranges.
But this is not the dark drink long associated with bar fights and backyard boozing, these are new high-end versions produced in small quantities high in quality and unique in flavour.
"Rum is starting to get its time in the sun and people are starting to think about drinking it with something other than just Coke," said James Duvnjak, dark spirits manager at Dan Murphy's.
"Rum is really on that journey [that gin went on] now with more people putting out leading products."
And it's Queensland manufacturers at the forefront, with local distilleries including Mt Uncle in North Queensland, Rockhampton-based Saleyards Distillery, Bundaberg Rum and Brisbane's Milton Rum taking out top awards in some of the world's most prestigious spirit competitions.
"They're producing stuff that's quality on a world stage," Mr Duvnjak said. "They're really coming out of the shadows now and we're seeing a growth in the amount of products they're producing and the customer demand for it."
And that growth is only set to continue, the expert said, as many Australian gin makers begin experimenting with the dark spirit.
"I'm getting noises from the industry that there's a lot of people dipping their toe into rum," he said. "A lot of distilleries they'll start off doing gin as it's something to get them into distilling and it's a relatively quick turnaround and then they've got that cashflow that allows them to put down a whisky or a rum [which takes a few years to produce]," he said.
Alex Bell from Milton Rum Distillery said consumer interest in boutique rums was booming, as drinkers looked for the next big thing.
"When we first started 2.5/3 years ago, rum wasn't really talked about, but now we're getting a lot of traction," he said.
"I see the rum market doing what gin has done in the last five to 10 years - a large increase in demand and in producers."
He said consumers of all ages were embracing the spirit, with spiced, dark and flavoured rums proving the most popular. Also driving the appeal of locally made products was their use of native ingredients, such as lemon myrtle, which gave them a uniquely Australian spin.