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Bundaberg Rum Distillery Or Bond Store

Posted by on March 14, 2011

I never realised last week when New Life On The Road visited Bundaberg Rum Distillery that they are actually called the Bond Store. But after taking a tour of Bundaberg Rum Distillery or Bond Store it makes sense!

Bond Store

Each Bundaberg Rum is kept in huge VATS on site. And those VATS have to be kept stored with the Rum for two years before it can be bottled and sold. I was stunned when our wonderful tour guide explained how the Rum has to sit there in the Bond Stores VATS for two years, gathering there unique flavour before the Rum can be bottled off and sold. Within those two years each VAT has to have a sample taken out every three months to be tested. Wish I could be on the Sample team!! Those Vats are huge – I mean really big. The VATS are made on site from a team of men that work for two days.

They do not use glue, nails or any staples to bind the wood together. It is all hand held together through a skilled technique that only a few men know how to do – and then tightened on the outside of the Vats with a steel frame that is like a huge circle. Each steel circle is then tighten at the ends by twisting and bolting!  Each VAT is worth $6 Million in Dollars !! Yep you read right  :) The Beauty of the Bond Store is that while the Rum is gathering its unique flavour there is no tax paid on any of the Rum. Actually no tax is charged on any of the Rum until it is bottled and left the premises. The Bond Store is smartly set up !

Bundaberg Rum Distillery Or Bond Store

There are about 15 Bond Stores on the premises and each one holds any where between 10 Vats to 15 Vats (I am not sure what the larger Bond Store can hold) and each Vat can hold 69,000 litres (on average) depending on their size!! The new standard is 75,00o litres and the oldest VAT is 67 years old!

The Vats cost from $75,000 to about $100,00 and should last anywhere up to 85-100 years. Theyhave not tested that theory out yet due to the fire in 1936.  Once the VATS are no longer suitable to hold the Rum (and they have taken a few of them out of service) due to leaking or due to the Rum taste not meeting the standards then the VATS are pulled apart and recycled. Nothing is wasted in the Bundaberg Rum Distillery.

Bundaberg Rum Distillery Recycles

Once a VAT is taken out of service, it is cut down to make keyrings, Bar Signs, Bar Benches, Wooden decorations and anything that can be made as a souvenirs.

The Rum That Is Sitting In The Bond Stores

The making of the Rum Process….. the Molasses is combined with water and yeast where it is fermented and then goes into a “Low Wines Still” where it goes through its first distillation. In that process 44,000 litres is made but only 4,000 litres containing 50%alcohol is suitable for further distillation into Bundaberg Rum. The 40,000 litres that is left is a by product called Dunder and is sold of as a fertilizer back to the farms. Here is how the process of making Bundaberg Rum works – its amazing how it goes from Molasses to the end product of Bundaberg Rum and then sits in the Bond Store for two years! Here are some of the photos that we took from Bundaberg Rum Distillery Or Bond Store !

YouTube Preview Image

There are a lot more photos and even on our Youtube Channel you can see what fun we had at the Bundaberg Rum Distillery or Bond Store! If you are ever in the Bundaberg area or thinking about visiting Bundaberg then make sure you check out the Bundaberg Rum Distillery or Bond Store and have a drink or two thinking about how much fun New Life On The Road had!


Lisa Wood

PS:- I almost forgot…..about a dozen people try to break into the Bond Stores every year….they have to get over the high walls which are electric fences, and then break into the Bond Stores which have huge doors that are padlocked. No one has succeed….but what would they do if they passed the fences? How would they get the Bundaberg Rum out of those VATS – remember there is no bottles of rum stored there :)

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9 Responses to Bundaberg Rum Distillery Or Bond Store

  1. Mandy Smith

    I would imagine that they may not plan on getting the rum out, maybe they just hope for a little nirvanna being a rum lover of just indulging until they are discovered and thrown out. I knew a fellow who put on his great coat and hid in the coolroom of Woolworths and spend the night drinking, he was discovered the next morning and thrown out and barred from woolworths, i imaging he was fined as well. A very wrong thing to do, but i thought it was so funny.

  2. Leo Bookham

    Hi Lisa,

    Everything is so big there and I was amazed at the value of those vats! Is that the value of the contents or just the vat?
    Leo Bookham recently posted..Solar Yard Lights

    • Lisa

      Hello Leo,

      The VATS are worth anywhere between $75,000 to $100,000 to be built. When they have Bundaberg Rum sitting in them for the two years (depending on their size) they are worth about $6 million :) Sure blew my mind away !! It was such a great tour and I highly recommended it for those visiting Bundaberg.

  3. Carolyn

    What an interesting storyon rum vats! Sounds like a place to go and visit. Unbelievable how much money is tied up in it.

    • Lisa

      Hello Carolyn,

      Sure is a great place to visit and take the kids for education!! It is one place I would so go back and visit again :)


  4. Kerry Lea

    Enjoyed your post, you never think what goes into building a vat and the cost is unbelievable. I wonder how many young people learn this craft. Yes it would be fun to be a samper hehehehehe………
    Kerry Lea recently posted..Royal Botanic Gardens

    • Lisa

      Hello Kerry,

      Actually there is only one guy in Bundaberg that makes the VATS and he has taught other guys in the last few years the skills that are needed. Luckily he realised that the skill is needed and decided to teach others! I was amazed with how big those vats are, and yep the money that goes into the business.

      I so would go back again for another tour – it was so full of educational information that was told in such a funny way!


  5. Cade

    Hi Lisa,
    Yes the Bundaberg Rum Distillery is certainly an interesting place, and I must admit I do enjoy a drop from time to time.
    Its great to see the Distillery is passing the craft and traditions on for the years to come.

    If you happen to visit Kunnanurra in your travels, there is another great rum distillery called the “Hoochery” that you might be interested in ;-)

    Thanks for sharing some of the interesting facts of the Rum making process.


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