Let there be RUM! The 2019 rum harvest has begun.
The Tweed Valley, Northern NSW, conjures images of smokey cane fires, across vast, rich, fertile plains under the watchful eye of Wollumbin (Mt Warning).
This week, after several weeks rebuilding the sugar mill at Husk Farm Distillery, the first mill in the Tweed since the Abbotsford Mill closed in 1896, the Men of Husk fired up our trusty cane harvester and officially kicked off the 2019 rum harvest at Australia’s only agricole rum distillery.
“Over the next four months we’ll crush 450 tonnes of select local cane varieties grown on our farm and extract almost a quarter of a million litres of fresh virgin cane juice to make some of the finest rum in Australia,” says Founder Paul Messenger.
There’s a long, rich history of farming families cultivating sugarcane in the Tweed, the valleys most important industry, dating back to mid 1870’s after the land along the Tweed and Rous Rivers was opened up by cedar-getters. Before these settlers, the Bundjalung aboriginal people lived off the land, practising sustainable land management of the forests, rivers and mountains in the Tweed.
Husk farm sits on 60 hectares of prime agricultural land along the Tweed River and is home to pristine rainforest, fertile sugarcane fields, a sugar mill, distillery and cellar door. The rest of the property is used for grazing cattle, which are integral to the paddock to bottle rum process - the cattle drink the liquid distillery waste (minus the alcohol) which nourishes both herd and the land over the dry winter months when pasture quality is low.
Paul says that the harvest is physically demanding with long working days, but the end results are worth it.
When we cut and crush our last stick of cane for the year, after all the juice is fermented and distilled we will have filled around 200 barrels of Australian Agricole rum. This rum will quietly rest for years before being released. Our unique paddock to bottle method encompasses sustainable farming practises and brings economic and social development to the Tweed region.
“Turning the produce of our land into fine quality spirits for people to enjoy with family and friends, knowing who made it and where it came from, makes me proud. Being an agricultural product, our rum reflects our provenance, or as the French say, our terroir – it’s the spirit of the Tweed.”