The devastation wrought on Milton Rum Distillery by late-February’s floods was a cruel case of history repeating. The lauded spirit maker, founded in 2018 by Alexander Bell and Asa Boardman, was a resurrection of the original Milton Rum Distillery, which closed in March 1893 after similarly unprecedented flood waters inundated riverside suburbs. Several generations ago, the flood proved to be an insurmountable challenge for the spirit makers. Today, though the rain bomb-induced tide saw Milton Rum Distillery’s aged products destroyed, barrels compromised, tanks capsized and palettes of stock infected, Alex and Asa were determined to rebuild and continue their mission of ushering in a new age of rum in Brisbane. First, though, the team needed to find a new space to operate while they planned their next steps. Enter James Rennell of Albion food and lifestyle hub Craft’d Grounds, who opened up The Black – the function space located behind James’ cafe Collingwood Black – to Alex and Asa as a staging point for their rebuild process. What was originally intended as a temporary home quickly became permanent, as the prospect of being able to create and evolve as part of a larger collective became too good an opportunity to pass up. On Friday June 25, Milton Rum Distillery will officially launch the first phase of its 20-sqm production space, nestled neatly behind Collingwood Black’s cocktail bar, which is accessed via the laneway separating the cafe and function room from Craft’d Grounds itself. Central to Milton Rum Distillery’s new home and operations is the miniaturised continuous-column still – a striking apparatus cunningly designed by Alex (a qualified chemical engineer) that boasts seven stills in one. Where many distillery set-ups use a less-efficient batch still to create a sprit, this piece of equipment allows the team to continuously feed the still and pump out product at a higher rate – we’re talking an estimated 70,000 to 150,000 bottles per year. In addition to vastly improving output, by using less water and electricity the still also greatly reduces costs of operation.
After getting the still up and running, the first order of business for Alex and Asa has been the replenishment of stock, ensuring stable supply of critical products before turning their attention to the future. Over the coming months the Milton Rum Distillery core range will expand, with its signature spiced cane spirit, Spanish-inspired dark and silver spirits, and coffee-infused cane spirit to be joined by a Brazilian-inspired aguardente as well as a string of limited-edition sips made in collaboration with other businesses. The team will be collaborating with The Black to create its own spiced rum called the Black Widow, as well as a coffee spirit made with the team at neighbouring Seven Miles Coffee Roasters. With the flexibility to create new products every couple of weeks, expect new Milton Rum Distillery drops every month. This versatility also allows the team to produce custom cane spirits or gin for special events taking place at The Black, adding a memorable touch to weddings or parties. In early-to-mid August, Milton Rum Distillery will launch distillery door tastings, where groups of up to 12 can sample the range on site before popping over to Collingwood Black’s bar to sip on a new range of signature concoctions made using the distillery’s spirits. Later in the year, The Black’s rear wall will be converted into a greenhouse, where an Australian-first hydroponic system will use distillation waste water to grow fresh botanicals (fresh citrus, lemon myrtle, and spices) for its infusions and for other Craft’d Grounds tenants. In an effort to create a closed-loop operation, food waste will be also used in the distilling process, while any used barley and grain will be distributed back to farms for animal feed.
Milton Rum Distillery’s distillery door launch party on Saturday June 25 is a must-attend event for rum fanatics, with tastings of the team’s first Albion-made batch and a behind-the-scenes masterclass of the distilling process giving spirit lovers an in-depth look at the product from process to pour. Throw in cozy fire pits, food, mulled wine and beer tastings and you’ve got a perfect recipe for a top-notch night out.