Rum that’s not quite ‘rum’
The crew at Brix Distillers think it’s time for rum to grow up. They salute rum’s dark history but strive for its bright future, which they’re helping to carve out as passionate engineers of a long forgotten drink…
The three passionate rum lovers think there’s more to rum, and the proof is in the way it’s highly esteemed abroad. Rum has a rich and diverse culture around the world which simply doesn’t exist in Australia – the drink just hasn’t been reflected in the right light down under.
The team behind Brix Distillers could sense that Australia needed a rum brand to hit the market and change the way it’s appreciated by drinkers all over the country. And they set out to make that rum themselves.
It’s time we treated rum a little nicer
Let’s be honest, rum hasn’t had the best reputation in the Australian drinking world, especially in recent years (or decades). It’s a get-drunk-quick kind of spirit that’s consumed by both teenagers and pub regulars alike, both with the aim of going blind rather than sipping and enjoying the beverage in their hands.
That’s part of what inspired Damien Barrow, James Christopher, and Siddharth Soin to launch Brix Distillers. The trio wanted to help the country rediscover its adventurous freebooting heritage, where rum was the spirit of choice and the fuel of rebellion. They wanted to invite a new generation to imbibe in this drink that has such a rich but often misunderstood history here in Australia.
They don’t just want people to chug away at their spirits. They want them to learn about the versatility of rum and the nuances of different styles and flavour profiles. In the same way that artisanal whisky and gin makers have had a boost in quality and reputation around the country in recent years, Brix Distillers thought rum deserved the same treatment.
Revel in the passion for a forgotten drink
It was all born out of a love for rum – a drink that’s widely popular in Australia but not necessarily admired or respected. The team of three, who also own restaurant The Public in Cammeray, were driven by their common love of fine distilled spirits. This wasn’t just a hobby – the trio had travelled to craft distilleries all over the globe, including the USA, Japan, Canada, and the Caribbean, to indulge their obsession and learn more about the fine art of distillation.
In their indulgence, Damien, James, and Siddharth noticed a growing market appreciation for locally produced spirits like gin and whisky. But there was a noticeable gap for quality Australian-made rum.
In 2017, the team set out to find a site where they could establish an urban distillery that showcased the best Australia has to offer. Proof that rum is fun and rebellious, and a drink that deserves to be loved and adored in respect for the effort and craft that goes into its production. They set their sights on a space in Bourke Street in Sydney’s Surry Hills and challenged themselves to source the best quality Australian molasses, fresh organic sugarcane, an Australian-made copper still, the best quality native spices, and Australian wine barrels from some of the best wine making regions in the country and around the world.
With these primo ingredients, the trio had a solid foundation to make a rum that would blow all other Aussie rums out of the water. They would combine these ingredients to make a unique Australian rum that can be enjoyed in bars and backyards all over the country.
Discovery, experimentation, appreciation, and adventure
Damien, James, and Siddharth were set on producing their rum onsite, the way a small-scale craft distillery should be. So they installed a small-scale production line and distillery that can be seen from the drinking and dining space of Brix Distillers (the restaurant is headed by Colombian chef Ivan Sanchez with a casual but refined menu). The operation is overseen by expert head distiller, Shane Casey of Archie Rose fame, who helped create the core range of Brix White, Gold, and Spiced Rum with plans for more releases down the track.
Brix Distillers’ rum is made from molasses sourced from the sugarcane fields of Queensland and Northern NSW. The first wash of molasses and water is pasteurised and fermented for 2-3 days in their four fermentation vessels, which are specially designed to stack on top of one another optimising the venue’s floorspace. You can see the vessels when you dine in or head to the distillery for a beverage.
The liquid is then distilled in an 1800L copper still which was custom-made in Ballarat for the distillery. The fully copper still naturally removes sulfites which makes for a cleaner rum. The team sourced shiraz and chardonnay barrels from wine producer friends around NSW – barrel ageing has different effects on the rum, which adopts fruity flavours from shiraz and buttery flavours from the chardonnay.
Rum that’s not quite ‘rum’
In Australia, rum needs to be aged for two years before it can legally be called ‘rum’. Since Brix White hasn’t been aged for two years just yet, it’s referred to as a ‘white spirit’. This is a complex ‘rum’ that’s big on caramel notes with hints of toffee, creme brulee, caramelised fig, honeydew, and green apple, with a slight hint of fennel in the flavour profile. The Brix Gold is a blend of Barbados aged rum which has been created in collaboration with an overseas master distiller according to the Brix Distillers team’s specifications. This one has gentle floral notes with plum, hints of golden syrup and brown sugar, and doaky flavours of vanilla cake batter and buttery biscuits. The Spiced Rum blends Brix White with a five year aged Caribbean rum.
Being a small scale distillery, there’s plenty of room for experimentation and rum lends itself to more versatility than whisky and brandy, which tend to be more rule-bound. The team are enjoying their process of adventure and experimentation. White, Gold, and Spiced Rums are here to stay and will be joined by fun and interesting small batch releases and collaborations along the way. The ultimate vision for the trio at Brix Distillers is to share their passion for rum and let it fuel adventures with everyone they come into contact with.
For the time being, Brix Distillers is Sydney’s only dedicated craft rum distillery. And what better way to infuse a love of rum into the minds and souls of Australia’s most avid drinkers than by settling in a metropolitan suburb? The team reckon that redefining rum in Australia starts with educating a new audience to appreciate the qualities and subtleties of what is one of the world’s great spirits. And they’re doing it by crafting damn good rum in the heart of Sydney.