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Bundaberg Rum
Bundaberg Rum logo.jpg
Manufacturer Bundaberg Distilling Company
Distributor Diageo
Country of origin Australia
Introduced 1888; 134 years ago (1888)
Colour Dark and White
Website http://www.bundabergrum.com.au

Bundaberg Rum is a dark rum produced in Bundaberg, Queensland, Australia, by the Bundaberg Distilling Company. It is often referred to as "Bundy". In 2010, the Bundaberg Distilling Company was inducted into the Queensland Business Leaders Hall of Fame.

History

Queensland State Archives 324 Bundaberg Rum Distillery Burnett River Bundaberg c 1931
Bundaberg Rum Distillery, Burnett River, Bundaberg., Circa 1931.

Bundaberg Rum originated because the local sugar mills had a problem with what to do with the waste molasses after the sugar was extracted (it was heavy, difficult to transport and the costs of converting it to stock feed were rarely worth the effort). Sugar men first began to think of the profits that could be made from distilling. The vital meeting was held at the Royal Hotel on 1 August 1885, W M C Hickson served as the chairman, and other notables in attendance included all the big sugar mill owners of that time, W G Farquhar, F L Nott, T Austin, J Gale, S McDougall, T Penny, S H Bravo and A H Young, all to become the first directors of the Company. They started with a capital of £5,000.

The Bundaberg Distilling Company began its operations in 1888.

Bundaberg rum was first produced in 1889. Production ceased from 1907 to 1914 and from 1936 to 1939 after fires, the second of which caused rum from the factory to spill into the nearby Burnett River.

Christsen Pty Ltd operated their own Bundaberg Rum bottling plant in Bourbong Street, Bundaberg at the rear of their large grocery and hardware business in the centre of town. The spirit was sold at UP and OP strength from their business. Spokesperson for the original family, Mr Rod Patch, recalls the origins of the shape of the current "Bundy Bottle". It originated from the Bushells Coffee Chicory bottle that Bundaberg residents sold to his grandfather at the firm for one penny a bottle, after which they were washed and filled with the spirit. The shape remains the same but the capacity has been increased to the current 700ml. Patch's great grandfather, Hans Truval Christsen, a Danish immigrant from Copenhagen and his son Frederick Christsen had an employment policy of employing staff from the Salvation Army faith in the rum bottling process as they were less likely to be tempted to sample the spirit. The Christsen family supported settlement farming families through hard times and these good deeds were acknowledged with the naming of Christsen Park at Bargara Beach.

BundabergRumFactory
Bundaberg Rum Factory, Circa 2014.

In 1961, the company introduced the polar bear as its unusual choice of mascot, to imply that the rum could ward off the coldest chill.

In 2000, the Bundaberg Rum company and distillery were sold to British company Diageo.

In 2014, a decision by Diageo to relocate the bottling operations of Queensland's iconic drink, "Bundaberg Rum", to the western Sydney suburb of Huntingwood resulted in local job losses in the city that bears its name. The decision drew criticism from all levels of Queensland politics:

  • Premier Campbell Newman said it was a disappointing move, particularly in a region that had suffered devastating floods in recent years.
  • Bundaberg mayor Mal Forman said "I'm saddened by the announcement, but I had been assured the company had a commitment to the city".
  • Cr Forman said "I understood demand for bottled Bundaberg Rum had declined as more people bought pre-mixed cans, a trend I wanted no part of".

Later a Diageo spokeswoman clarified by saying "Some premium products, such as the Master Distillers Collection, would continue to be bottled in Bundaberg. This was not a decision we have taken lightly, however it is a necessary one to ensure the longer term sustainability of the distillery. We remain absolutely committed to Bundaberg and the distillery and will continue to invest and focus on our core business of distilling, maturing and blending great quality rum in Bundaberg as we have done for the last 125 years."

Distillery

Rum-4-Large
The old Visitors Centre & Big Bundy Bottle

The Bundaberg Rum distillery is open to visitors for tours of the facility. There is also a museum which offers free samples of Bundaberg Rum products for visitors in a historic Queenslander house. The Big Bundy Bottle is also outside of the bondstore. A new $8.5 million visitor centre opened to the public in August 2016 replacing the smaller historic house next door.

In 2009 as part of the Q150 celebrations, the Bundaberg Rum Distillery was announced as one of the Q150 Icons of Queensland for its role as a "location".

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