Bundaberg commits $11 million to help during COVID pandemic

Queensland brand Bundaberg Rum, owned by parent company Diageo, has announced the creation of ‘Raising the Bar’, an $11.5 million fund that will support Australia’s bars, pubs, and clubs as they rebuild following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Any licensed venue in Australia, whether they’re regional or metro, and regardless if they’re a Bundaberg Rum or Diageo stockist, can apply for support through the ‘Raising the Bar’ initiative that will fund a two-year programme rolling out from July 2020.

‘Raising the Bar’ will directly support jobs, recovery, and innovation in the Australian hospitality industry. Pre-COVID-19 Australian pubs, bars and clubs employed more than 500,000 Australians and contributed $17.2 billion in revenue.

“Our hospitality industry sits at the heart of our community and Australian culture. The joy of being able to connect with friends and family down at the ‘local’ has been sorely missed throughout this pandemic, while the economic impact on the industry has been unprecedented,” said Angus McPherson, managing director at Bundaberg Rum’s parent company Diageo Australia.

“Many in the hospitality industry are small businesses that employ thousands across the country and as we start to recover and rebuild, Bundaberg Rum wants to stand by their side and support them in getting back on their feet just like any Australian would do for a mate.”

Both Government and industry have come out in support of the fund and how it will help this critical industry that accounts for 8 per cent of Australian jobs, get back on its feet.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and our communities. Seeing the resilience, innovation and spirit amongst Australian small business operators, including in the hospitality sector, as they have faced the challenges this year has been nothing short of inspiring,” said Hon. Michaelia Cash Senator and Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business.

“Businesses and workers in the hospitality industry have shown great ingenuity by innovating and adapting as the devastating effects of COVID-19 have impacted us all.

“I welcome the introduction of the ‘Raising the Bar’ initiative. These support measures will provide additional support to Australia’s bars, pubs and clubs which have all been severely impacted by the social distancing measures required to stop the spread of COVID-19.”

 ‘Bundaberg Rum, through their parent company Diageo, stepped up for Queensland when we needed it most, generously donating 100,000 litres of ethanol to produce hand sanitiser to ensure our front-line workers were kept safe at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in Queensland,” said Queensland treasurer, the Hon. Cameron Dick.

‘Once again, Bundaberg Rum has proven their commitment with the ‘Raising the Bar’ recovery fund for Australia’s hospitality sector, which has been so hard hit by the pandemic.

‘Like the Queensland Government, Bundaberg Rum knows how important it is to support and create jobs, and we thank them, once again, for investing in Queensland.’

‘Doing business in a post-COVID world is a new challenge for every industry and it is initiatives like this that will allow more businesses to keep their doors open during these challenging times,” said NSW treasurer, the Hon. Dominic Perrottet.

‘These support measures will allow more pubs and bars to open safely, directly supporting tens of thousands of jobs across the country as we move from the response to recovery phase during this pandemic.

‘The hospitality is a key contributor to the NSW and national economy and it is important businesses continue to adopt innovative approaches such as these, which I have no doubt will provide not only short-term gains but long-term benefits.

‘The NSW Government is doing everything we can to support all sectors of the economy to keep more people in jobs and businesses in business.’

From 24 June 2020, venue operators can register their interest for ‘Raising the Bar’ funding via http://www.diageobaracademy.com. The industry can also register to receive regular updates on best practice training and resources and be able to participate in global surveys to share insights, as they build back their businesses.

This announcement is part of a broader commitment by Diageo to invest US$100 million globally in ‘Raising the Bar’ programmes that will support venues as they recover from the impact of COVID-19.

The impact of COVID-19 on the hospitality sector has been widespread, with the closure of venues the world over. As governments begin to ease lockdown measures, the public want to come together again to connect with their community and socialise safely. Through the establishment of ‘Raising the Bar’, Bundaberg Rum and Diageo aims to help any licensed venue anywhere in Australia open its doors again and welcome back their patron

Sunshine Sugar dips into rum market

Sunshine Sugar is a step closer to realising a vision to join the rum market, having today entered into a Heads of Agreement with the Holey Dollar Rum Distilling Company.

The Holey Dollar brand is owned by former Olympic Yachtsman and multiple World Windsurfing Champion, Stuart Gilbert.

Stuart formerly owned the iconic Inner Circle Rum brand, which he successfully relaunched in 2002. The Inner Circle rum brand was officially launched by CSR back in 1968. Whilst the rum was made at their distillery in Pyrmont, Sydney, the beginnings of this infamous Australian alcohol hails from 95 years before, when CSR established its original and the first known distillery in Australia, at the Harwood Sugar Mill on the Clarence River in the NSW Northern Rivers.

Since 2009, Stuart has been appointed as an International Spirit Panel Judge (specialising in Rum), at the International Wine and Spirit competition (IWSC) held in London each year. His Holey Dollar rum has won three Gold medals and “best in class” for each product, including World Wide Distiller of the Year, a feat no other rum company in the world has won in the 40-year history of the IWSC.

Named after the coins made by Governor Macquarie in the earliest days of Australia’s colonial history in 1813 and the first official currency of Australia, Holey Dollar rum has been described by the judging panel as “rich and full on the nose and in the mouth with spice, exotic fruit, raisin and lots of oak. Clean in all respects. Lots of treacle with some bitter caramel giving some unexpected bite. Big and full bodied with woody, spicy finish.”

CEO of Sunshine Sugar, Chris Connors said; “We are excited to have agreed to partner with Stuart Gilbert and his Holey Dollar Rum company, and look forward to working collaboratively to develop the business in providing Australians with an alternative, high-quality and world-class tasting rum that is highly awarded and locally made and owned in NSW.”

It is anticipated that a pot still plant will be built at either the Harwood or Broadwater Sugar Mill site, as part of a graduated approach to developing the partnership over a period of time.

“This is another step in our strategic development program and will join our Low GI and Caster Sugar products in a suite of alternative income streams. We have a number of other projects that are close to announcement that are all targeted at our sustainability,” said Connors.

Bundaberg Rum Distillery brings home international tourism awards

Bundaberg Rum Distillery has been named as one of the world’s top distillery attractions winning two gongs for the second time at the 2018 Drinks International Distillery Challenge Awards in London.

The Bundaberg Rum Distillery Experience was named World’s Best Distillery Retail Experience while The Spirit of Bundaberg Festival was awarded World’s Best Distillery Event.

The Drinks International Distillery Challenge Awards recognises innovation and excellence amongst distilleries and associated businesses.

Bundaberg Rum also received a Highly Commended award in the World’s Best Visitor Centre category.

The accolades follow past wins for Bundaberg Rum at the Distillery Challenge Awards. In 2017, the Visitor Experience was crowned the World’s Best Distillery Retail Experience and Educational Experience. In 2016, The Spirit of Bundaberg Festival was voted The World’s Best Distillery Event.

Duncan Littler, Visitor Experience Operations and Brand Manager says: “With each award win we are more humbled that our iconic Distillery continues to delight visitors from both near and afar. It’s an honour to win these awards and accolades that highlight that our world class distillery experience here in Bundaberg. We’re extremely proud.”

Just recently it was announced HRH The Prince of Wales will visit the Bundaberg Rum Distillery as part of a tour of the region on 6 April. Visitors near and far are invited to join in the celebrations.

The Spirit of Bundaberg Festival will also return to the distillery grounds on 13 October as part of Bundaberg Rum’s 130th anniversary celebrations. The Festival is the largest food and rum festival in Australia.

BDC launches the Master Distillers’ Collection rum

The Bundaberg Distilling Company (BDC) has released the Master Distillers’ Collection (MDC) Black Barrel – Distilled 2005 rum. 

This premium rum celebrates the Bundaberg Black legacy, exhibiting the richness, depth and character that are the staples of the Bundaberg Rum Black Barrel range and is set to launch at The Spirit of Bundaberg Festival in October.
MDC Black Barrel – Distilled 2005 rum has spent the last decade ageing in American White Oak and was finished in small, heavy charred barrels. The result is an enticingly sweet rum that has been barrel matured for longer than last year’s MDC Black Barrel – Distilled 2004, making it smoother whilst retaining a deep red lustre that is reminiscent of the glow of burning cane fields of yesteryear. 

The result is a premium, full character old aged dark rum featuring notes of deep caramel and sweet raisins, making this a well balanced treat for the palate.
The type of barrel is key to the rate at which a rum matures and the number of different barrels used by the BDC, results in the Master Distillers’ Collective (The Collective) regularly undertaking checks of the ten year old reserves on site to assess which batch is maturing best.
Senior Brand Manager for Bundaberg Rum, Duncan Littler, comments; “The Collective is dedicated to creating premium rums that embrace and celebrate the rich and diverse history of rum. MDC Black Barrel – Distilled 2005 has been barrel matured for longer creating a delectable rum, even smoother than its predecessors in the range.”

Available in 700ml bottles, each MDC Black Barrel – Distilled 2005 (40 per cent ABV) also carries a unique number.


Less is more when it comes to Aussie rum

Stuart and Simon Griffith, part of the team behind the creation of the new Substation No. 41 Rum, talk to Food Magazine about rum making, and the challenges of the Australian beverage industry.

Food Magazine (FM): How has the rum changed over recent years?

Simon:  I think the general drinking culture has changed on the whole, not just with rum.  It is very noticeable across the board with all aspects of liquor; beer, wine and spirits that the Australian market is becoming more attracted to the social aspect of drinking and the eventual quality of the drink in their hand.  It is certainly less evident that the consumer is drinking for the affect of the 'grog'.  

Alcohol and the Australian culture go hand in hand.  During Australia's penal era, rum had been used as currency and it has been suggested that the colony's inhabitants drank more alcohol per capita than any other time in human history.
Nowadays Australia's love affair with rum may have changed, but it is still there, it's just different.  As the country has evolved, so has the alcohol consumption and palate of the 'everyday citizen'.  Less is more and quality is everything.

FM: You say that rum is undergoing a “strong renaissance.” Why is it seeing an increase in popularity?

Stuart:  Spirits tend to follow a cycle of popularity and it just so happens that rum is seeing a huge spike in its fortunes that spirits like gin, vodka and whisky have had over the past twenty years or so.  
Rum has often been categorised as a working class drink, which hasn’t been helped with stories of pirates and naval crew downing large amounts for 'Dutch courage' in the face of terrifying situations.  I think the consumer has looked past these old anecdotal stories and made their own choice.  
Rum can work on every level and doesn’t seem to discriminate like maybe other spirits do.  Its versatility is its strength, it doesn’t matter what your gender is or your budget, it appeals to all walks of life for completely different reasons.  And yet, when you strip it all back you find that its unique power is that it makes everyone equal. 

FM: Are Australian drinkers more educated about rum than before?

Stuart:  Yes, they absolutely are.  The liquor market has definitely become a 'buyers market'.  The customer is now in a position where they can ask a question about a product they are buying and not fear a reprisal from the person serving them.  
Also with the advent of the Internet and information at the fingertips, customers more than ever can research before buying.  It’s not uncommon for costumers to visit us at the Substation No. 41 Rum Bar with a list of the rums they may want to try during an evening.  They have information on the rum, pros and cons, a tasting profile, prices etc.  Our job is to help them choose the right rum for them, for the right reasons.  Ten years ago, punters came into the bar with less pre-conceived ideas and were generally happy to get what they were given.

FM: In a market saturated with imports, how can Australian spirits compete?

Stuart:  It's really important to not try and be something your not.  There are so many amazing spirits on the market from a whole heap of international destinations.  So many of these spirits tick all the right boxes and are perfect in so many ways.  The key is to not try and replicate what someone else is doing really well and do your own thing to the best of your ability.  It is the Australian way to barrack for the underdog and give everyone a fair go and so if you apply these fundamental values of Australian culture to making quality spirits then it can be an easy recipe to follow.  Home grown ingredients coupled with this beautiful climate, love, tenderness and hard work and the end product can be a liquor that everyone can be proud of and sold at a reasonable price.