Bundaberg joins the craft rum renaissance
Australia's most prolific rum maker is just one of a number of brands around the world that are helping fuel an upward swing in the sweet spirit's fortunes. Producer: Tim Martin
An Australian rum has been named the world's best for the first time, with one of the Bundaberg Distilling Company's premium range crowned at the World Drinks Awards in London.
Earlier named the world's best dark rum, Bundaberg Blenders Edition then beat a field of five fellow finalists to land the award for world's best rum. The final six were judged by a panel of international experts across three rounds and scored on merit of nose, palate, finish, balance, character, complexity and quality.
A rum deal
There was double cause for celebration for Bundaberg, with another entrant also winning its category and reaching the final judging table. Bundaberg Small Batch was named the world's top golden rum, having been narrowly beaten in the same category in 2015.
Bundaberg senior brand manager Duncan Littler says BDC is "proud to be flying the flag for Australian rum across the world ... to be recognised on the global stage and amongst such high calibre rums, is a testament to the quality of our product – and to the dedication of our team.
"To win so many awards is a fantastic achievement for the distillery and, as a Queensland brand, the region as a whole."
Blenders Edition 2015 was launched last May and is described by the company as a "complex yet sweet rum", and "layered with hints of raisins, vanilla and spice". It retails at $90 for a 700ml bottle.
A sub-section of the World Drinks Awards recognises design excellence in bottling and labelling, and it was here that another Australian concern excelled. Tasmania's Lark Distillery, the producer of Forty Spotted Gin, was awarded 'world's best gin design' for its Forty Spotted Winter Release.
Scotch breaks award drought
Meanwhile, Scotch whisky is back on top of the world after a lean few years, with northern Scottish distiller Old Pulteney grabbing the top gong at the World Whiskies Awards.
Old Pulteney's Vintage 1989 took out the coveted title of world's best single malt whisky.
It's the same award that delivered worldwide fame to Tasmanian distiller Sullivans Cove in 2014, which won for its French Oak Cask variety, sending demand skyrocketing and prices per bottle drawn from the winning cask into the thousands.
The WWA victory in 2015 of a Taiwanese distillery, Kavalan, confirmed the rest of the world had surpassed the spirit's notional home of Scotland in terms of quality and complexity.
At the same time, whisky connoisseur Jim Murray named a Canadian malt whiskey – Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye – his top pick for 2015, scoring 97.5 points out of a possible 100. Not a single Scottish whisky made the top five selections for Murray's seminal publication, The Whisky Bible.
The WWA handed out 14 gongs this year and Scottish distilleries collected the top three awards. American distilleries collected a swag of awards, while Japan bagged two and Taiwan and Ireland one each.
The 26-year-old Old Pulteney Vintage 1989 is described as "honey, musky floral tone and sweetness … balanced well with a chalky oak finish and hints of iodine. Nutty oak, butter and lemon drops on the palate".
A spokeswoman for Old Pulteney, Scotland's northern-most mainland distiller, described the victory as "a wonderful win".
"We couldn't be more proud to have our 1989 Vintage recognised as the world's best single malt," Margaret Mary Clarke said.
"When we released the whisky last year it was a real hit with whisky enthusiasts and Old Pulteney devotees, who already recognise the quality and character of our full range of fine single malts.
"The award is another great testament to the dedicated distillery team up in Wick, whose passion and skill for creating incredible malt whiskies continue to be recognised around the world."
The Australian distributor of Old Pulteney hopes to import a shipment of the award-winning 1989 Vintage soon.