Australian Agricole Rum
We make rum from the finest quality, freshly crushed cane juice grown on our farm, an approach known as the French-style or Rhum Agricole.
When you taste our rum, you will discover a body and character unlike traditional molasses rums. Take Pure Cane, our unaged agricole and our most pure expression. This sparkling, crystal clear liquid exhibits an unparalleled freshness with herbal and floral aromas, light and fruity with sweet sugar cane and citrus notes and a well-balanced, pastrie finish – a world away from many one-dimensional, almost vodka-like molasses-based white rums.
In the barrel, this complexity of flavour develops further with a depth of character not often seen in traditional rums.
It’s also been said that our rums are lighter and less pungent than many French agricoles, which use nineteenth century production methods and are strictly controlled by the AOC rhum agricole rules.
Our production methods were designed to compliment our provenance and local cane varieties and to suit the Australian palate.
Finally, our location in one of the world’s deepest calderas - wedged between the Pacific Ocean and the Gondwana Rainforest with its big daily and annual temperature changes makes our barrels work hard and dictates the maturation dynamics that help define our provenance.
This is Australian Agricole Rum.
- Paul Messenger, Co-Founder/Distiller
Life and landscapes in the Tweed Caldera revolve around the annual cycle of the sugar cane crop Saccharum officinarum - and so it is at Husk Plantation distillery, located on the north bank of the Tweed River at Tumbulgum.
Each year begins as the wet, hot summer months herald the start of the growing season. This is when our sugar cane and everything else literally grows one to two inches a day and slashing, mowing and weeding seems an endless job.
As the days shorten and the nights cool into winter, the harvest season begins. Over the next six months hundreds of thousands of tonnes of sugar cane will be harvested and crushed in the valley.
At Husk Plantation distillery we do things a little differently. We harvest our small crop of select cane varieties green and transport it about 400m to our mini-sugar mill that we designed and built specifically to make rum. Here it is immediately crushed and transferred to the fermentation tanks for inoculation.
Our rums start & finish the same as French Caribbean agricoles, by using fresh cane juice as the substrate and adding no caramel or flavour additives to the final product, but in between we do things differently.
Fermentation starts with a special strain of yeast which we propagate onsite over 48 hours prior to pitching.
To best control fermentation we use closed, jacketed beer fermenters and an intelligent cooling system that maintains the temperature of the brew at 32-34˚C.
We ferment our brew for 100 hours, which is significantly longer than Caribbean rums, and produces a fruity, nutty wash that develops significant complexity during maturation.
Our first two copper stills were saucy little Spanish numbers, both hand-made by Armindo Da Costa in Spain. The first one has a capacity of 50 litres and has been used for all of our experimental work since the beginning. We even produced the first three batches of Ink Gin in this still in 2015!
The second, much bigger still with a capacity of 1000 litres, is a terrific work horse and has been the heart of our production since 2012. Along the way we made a number of modifications enabling us to convert it from a gin still to a rum still in less than half a day. In 2014 we built our own dephlegamator, which gave us more control over the evolving spirit as we explored the styles of rums we wanted to produce.
This year, we are proud to welcome the latest member of the family - our Scottish Forsyth still. Built in Rothes, Scotland to our specifications that were drawn up over six years of experimenting, traveling, tasting and learning, it is the only Forsyth still to venture into the antipodes.
A true marriage of art and science, this still provides our distillers a level of control to produce both full bodied pot still rums for ageing as well as lighter, fruity more elegant spirits designed to be drunk unaged.
When it comes to maturation, we like the results the Kentucky bourbon distillers achieve. Bourbon must be aged on new American oak and in our view, there is no compromise for new oak. We also like the added complexity derived from ex-port and ex-bourbon barrels so we opted for a double barrel aging process. Fresh off the still, the heart is reduced to barrel strength to fill new American oak barrels with a heavy #4 char. The rum will stay in these barrels for between 6 and 12 months before being transferred to ex port, ex bourbon or old reserve barrels for further maturation, flavour development and mellowing.
Our Northern Rivers climate is excellent for maturing rum. The physical and chemical processes of maturation increase in warmer climates so a 3 year old rum matured in the Northern Rivers of NSW may be considered equivalent to an eight year old whisky in terms of flavour development. The large temperature variations we get from summer to winter and day to night cause the rum to expand and contract rhythmically forcing the liquid in and out of the wood, so our barrels work hard.
There are no flavourings or colouring added and Husk Rum is neither chill filtered and non carbon filtered. It is screened to remove barrel char and bottled to retain natural colour and flavour.
Husk Rum is a contemplative rum to be enjoyed with kindred spirits or in peaceful solitude.
Full Circle Distilling
Most of the waste we produce at the distillery gets put back into the farm. We call this full circle distilling.
Our waste disposal team consists of around 30 very spoilt cattle. They eat all the distillery waste - stillage, spent botanicals, cane tops and the high protein yeast left behind after distilling rum. This supplements their diet during the winter harvest months, when the nutrition in the grass is at it's lowest. The result is the fattest, happiest cows in the valley!
We are the caretakers of 12 hectares of remnant Gondwana rainforest which is at the rear of our farm. Any leftover bagasse (what is left behind after we juice the sugar cane) that the cattle can't eat is used to mulch rainforest regeneration plantings which are dotted across the property, or used as a compost base.