The following information can be found in the interactive area at the Distillery.
Vats are large vessels made from specially selected American white oak. The vats are stored in buildings known as bonds to keep temperature fluctuations to a minimum, and maintain the correct atmospheric conditions. When vats are first constructed, they are filled with “pickling spirit” - which is rectified spirit (highly concentrated, distilled alcohol) that has been diluted with water – to swell the timbers and condition the vat prior to the addition of raw rum.
The raw or immature spirit must be aged in wood for a minimum of two years to be legally sold as rum. This law has been around for hundreds of years to ensure that consumers are sold quality dark spirits.
Spirit and rum are classed as being “underbond” until excise duty is paid to the government. This means that the government has control of it and it can not be sold to the general public. To calculate the excise duty, the volume in litres is multiplied by the alcohol strength to determine the Lals (litres of alcohol) and then multiplied by the excise duty rate to give the total excise duty payable. Once this tax is paid, the alcohol is classed as duty paid and can be sold to the general public. Spirits were the first commodity to be taxed in colonial Australia in an attempt to regulate the industry in a time when rum was the main form of currency.
* There are over 290 vats on site at the Bundaberg Distillery
* Each vat uses approximately six tones of American white oak timber
* Each vat contains an average of 69,000 litres of maturing rum or 6,202,982 standard drinks of UP Bundaberg Rum. All new Vats are a standard 75,000 litres.
* A Vat that is 67 years old, has produced approximately 207,799,907 standard drinks in its lifetime
* It costs approximately $70,000 to construct a new vat
* Each vat contains approximately $6,098,455 worth of UP Rum (based on the retail price of 700ml UP sold through the Distillery Shop and on an average 75,000 litre vat)
UP stands for under proof. This is what is sold in the 700ml bottle at 37% alcohol strength.
The Distillery’s Coopers
A Cooper is someone who manufactures wooden barrels and casks (and in the earlier days of the trade they also make buckets and wheels) combining the materials of wood and metal. The term cooper comes from the Latin work cupa meaning vat.
The Bundaberg Distillery employed its own coopers to repair and sometimes construct casks, mostly hogsheads (containing sixty gallons), and to repair vats. The following stories are taken from interviews with two former distillery coopers.
The Bundaberg Distillery has always contracted coopers to construct its Vats. The wooden staves were machined off-site and transported to Bundaberg for assembling. The Brisbane-based coopering company Mercers, were the main suppliers of Vats to the distillery until the 1950’s when it became a shared arrangement between Mercers and Schahingers, a South Australian cooperage. In the early 1990’s disaster struck at the Mercer’s factory when a fire caused them to close their doors. Schahingers built all the Vats up until March 2003, when local company Schmeider’s Cooperage began constructing Vats for the distillery. Schmeider’s are now the main supplier. NEXT >>>>
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