A new $5 million Visitor Centre opened last week in Beenleigh, as part of a plan to put the iconic Beenleigh Rum Distillery back on the map.
The Beenleigh Artisan Distillery Visitor Centre is the jewel in the crown of a $25 million investment into Queensland by family-owned business, Bickford’s Group of Companies.
Bickford’s spokesman, Chris Illman says the company intends to write an exciting new chapter for a local success story that dates back to 1884.
“This is a living piece of Queensland history. It is the oldest registered distillery in Australia,” he says.
Chris says the new Visitor Centre houses a museum which will be the starting point for distillery tours.
“We will take visitors on a trip back in time through the still house, which still bears testament to the 1887 Albert River flood, to the giant barrel hall, where the air is thick with what is known as the Angel’s share – the spirit that evaporates from the barrel as the rum ages,” he says.
“People will get to see how Beenleigh rum is returning to the quality and craft it was once renowned for, using small batch copper pot distillation, aging in barrels instead of large vats and quality local ingredients, such as molasses from the family-owned Rocky Point Sugar Mill just a few kilometres down the road.”
Bickford’s Group of Companies (which includes Bickford’s Cordials, Andrew Garrett wines and a range of boutique labels) has been restoring and expanding the heritage-listed distillery since it purchased the Beenleigh site in late 2012.
“Our changes here aren’t just structural. We have been busy re-imagining our products and what we have now is a craft range that will reinvigorate the rum category in Australia,” Chris says.
“We know that Queenslanders are all about rum and drink nearly twice as much of it as other Australians in an average month. What we want to do is provide a premium option for their favourite drink.”
“We are not interested in being the biggest rum distiller in the country. We want to be the best. And we want Australian rum drinkers to have a real option, just as vodka and scotch drinkers have choices in their categories.”
The iconic redboard distillery, built in 1884 by convict labour, is now fronted by a modern cellar door that brings together the traditions of copper pot rum-making of the past and new-age spirit drinkers of today.
Chris says, along with the museum and distillery tours, the centre has a private VIP tasting room, bonded store for sales to the public plus a range of distillery door only products, gifts and merchandise.
“Three ingredients go into Beenleigh Rum – Queensland sugarcane, Queensland rainwater and Queensland yeast,” he says.
“The rest is about the handcrafting process and time with our master distillers nosing and tasting the rum from the head to the heart and tail of the distillation process.”
“We are incredibly proud of what we have created here, in terms of our newly-developed Copper Pot rum and our five-year aged Double Barrel rum but also of the contemporary space we have created for people to taste our drinks while soaking up some history.”
Logan Mayor, Pam Parker says it’s wonderful to see history honoured in this way.
“I have no doubt tourists will embrace this trip down memory lane. So many people have such fond memories of the big red building as a welcome stop-off on the way to and from the coast, or as a Sunday drive destination,” she says.
The Beenleigh Rum Distillery is located at 142 Distillery Road in Beenleigh. For more information visit www.beenleighrum.com.au