The Beenleigh Rum Distillery claims to be the oldest registered distillery in Australia, having commenced legal distilling in 1884. As the story goes, they went legit only because they got tired of moving the Moonshine still (known as the SS Walrus) between cane plantations to avoid prosecution. Situated on the Albert river (between Brisbane and Southport) it thrived, its pot stills fed by a plentiful supply of molasses from the Queensland sugar industry. The distillery faded in the late twentieth century, eclipsed by its competitor to the north, Bundaberg Rum.
In 2003, Beenleigh Rum was sold to Vok Beverages, then to Diageo in 2007. Diageo apparently thought better of the deal and in 2012 sold Beenleigh Rum back to Vok for a six pack, a VT Commodore and a bag of boiled lollies.
The distillery produces only four products, including a white rum and a rum liqueur. This five year old, Double Barrel, is matured in brandy vats and finished in bourbon casks. The bottle is quite attractive and the slight flare at the top stops it sliding out of one's hand as one decides whether to buy bottle number 10267 or 45398. Yes, the bottles are individually numbered. My local Dan Murphy had bottles numbered up to 30-something thousand so it's not exactly a small batch, although the numbering of bottles is clearly intended to portray that illusion. My tasting notes are based on bottles 12068 and 12069.
Colour: Tawny. Nose: Salty caramel, toffee apple, rich vanilla, roasting coffee beans and a hint of aniseed. Lovely, if not complex and lacking intensity.
Rolls over the palate like a fast rising tide; creamy, soft, luscious mouthfeel. The brandy barrel has had a much greater influence than the bourbon and this rum is all the better for it; the balance is spot on. Plush caramel/coffee, vanilla and licorice again in the tail. A magnificent salted caramel/panna cotta dessert treat that will appeal to those who appreciate a good Muscat. Caramel coats every corner of the mouth while red fruits, licorice, coffee and eventually the oak play on the warmly lit stage it has set. Magnificent. It reminds me of Diplomatico Reserva 12 Rum from Venezuela, though not as sweet. And sweet this is but not excessively; much less so than Diplomatico Reserva, which I would have reviewed, had the bottle survived Hitch's ravenous appetites long enough (we seem to have gone all Fight Club here Hitch). Had I done so the Diplomatico Reserva would have rated a well founded 92/100. So, at half the price ($48 at Dan Murphy) how does Beenleigh Double Barrel rate?
This would make an amazing Old Fashioned. Its a cliché, I know, but this is a rum for Scotch drinkers. If you like whisky but feel the call of The Dark Side, this is a good place to start. Beenleigh Rum have managed to fit 1000ml of flavour into a 700ml bottle. One can only imagine how good this would be at a higher proof.....
It's readily available.
It's only $48.
And it's 87/100