“A blend of art and science with liberal doses of passion, hard work, patience and dedication. Husk Rum is the result of the complex interplay between our local climate, soil, water and cane varieties, the first press juice we extract, and the fermentation, distillation and maturation processes we follow. It reflects our provenance.”
– Paul Messenger, Distiller.
Paddock to Bottle
Husk Rum is an agricole rum made from freshly crushed cane juice, rather than molasses. The body and character of Husk Rum, however, is unlike agricole rums you may have tasted before. Unshackled from the strict rules and conventions that govern AOC rhum agricole production, we started with a blank canvas and the freedom to make a rum the way we thought it should be made. In our opinion only agricole rum made from unprocessed, freshly crushed cane juice can truly reflect local provenance. So we established a paddock to bottle plantation distillery using sugar cane grown on our own farm. We selected local cane varieties for their drinking quality rather than commercial sugar yields.
To best control fermentation we opted for a closed, jacketed fermenter, which allows us to set the temperature range and duration of the ferment. We use a special strain of yeast which we propagate over 48 hours prior to pitching. We run the ferment for 5-6 days, slower and longer than Caribbean rums, allowing us to better control congener development. We think this produces a better tasting wash.
Hand Beaten Copper
We love single malt whiskys so, when it came to distillation we opted for the malt whisky double distillation method with a copper pot still. But we added an expansion chamber above the pot and a 10 plate rectification column and then we designed and built our own dephlegamator to control the column head temperature. When distilling rum, we run the column head about 5 degrees C below the pot temperature and the combined effect of the expansion chamber and rectification column produces just the right amount of reflux for our evolving spirit. So on the second distillation, the heart flows at about 87% Alc./Vol. producing a full-bodied rum spirit with caramel, vanilla and aniseed notes coming off the still. It’s a smoother, more refined spirit than other heavy pot distilled rums.
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 whiskey 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.