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INTERVIEW: Shane Casey, Head Distiller At Brix Distillers

Shane Casey is the Head Distiller at Brix Distillers. Brix loves rum more than anything else and to celebrate National Rum Day we had a chat with Shane about all...

Shane Casey is the Head Distiller at Brix Distillers and a strong advocate for rum. Why rum? Because rum is fun and Australia is the perfect place to both make and enjoy it. It may have a few negative connotations, but that doesn’t mean that rum can’t be taken as seriously as wine or whiskey. While there is some way to go Shane and Brix Distillers are making the first steps at establishing rum as a core Australian beverage with a history and heritage all of its own. 

Shane Casey

What attracted you to rum? Why not wine or vodka? 

I always loved rum when I was starting out, but there have never been any craft distilleries making much rum before. In essence, I guess it was the versatility, creativity and fun that can be achieved with rum all while having a serious mindset about making great spirits.

We focus on each of our rums individually, so our white rum for example is a totally different creative process to our barrel aged rums. Those processes all involve different members of our team so no two days are ever the same. You can enjoy all the different categories of rum in different ways so it’s great to be able to show these different expressions and how they are distilled.

Australia has a history with rum. What is it and why don’t we hear about it much? 

Australia’s history with rum runs deep and there are some pretty dark days around the early days of British settlement in Australia. Rum was on the ships that formed the First Fleet, rum was used to pay people before currency had been introduced and rum has played a part in some pretty rough stories throughout the past 200+ years since Europeans came to Australia.

 It has also been deeply ingrained in our culture off the back of the sugar production industry, allowing rum to be produced in high quantities since the mid-1800’s. It has definitely made a mark on the country for a lot of the wrong reasons. That’s probably why we don’t hear too much about it’s history. But I guess we have taken it upon ourselves at Brix to build a new story for rum and give it a bright future looking forward.

What is rum’s “bright future?”

Australia has a huge opportunity to create some of the best rums in the world moving forward! We have the perfect climate for growing sugarcane, we have a culture that loves a cocktail, we have a huge supporting act in the wine, beer and spirits industry for barrels and we have a consumer base who love to be educated on new and exciting products.

The days of associating rum with pirates are well and truly over and the Australian rum industry is ready to showcase some really fantastic products. Over the next few years you will see some amazing craft rum distilleries opening up around the country and that can only mean great things for Aussie Rum! And Brix is proud to be leading the charge!

Has the association with rum and piracy hurt its ability to be taken as seriously as perhaps wine or whiskey? 

Possibly in the past, the negative connotations surrounding rum have set some people’s minds to think a certain way, but there is no reason why rum can’t be looked at alongside the best wines and spirits in the world. When it’s made well, with the best ingredients and loads of love and care, we can achieve fantastic results. The process of making rum is almost identical to making whisky, we just use a different base ingredient, so if you source the best ingredients, great barrels and refine your distilling process, the end result will be great.

Is the lack of pomposity and grandeur surrounding rum refreshing? Does it allow you to be more experimental without having to worry about it upsetting traditionalists? 

There are still traditionalists out there, but we have purposely set out to show people that rum can be both serious and fun. As rum grows up and attracts a new audience, it’s really refreshing to be able to create products that help define the way the new audiences are looking at rum. Rum’s versatility lends itself to creativity and we definitely will be leaning into that experimental nature of craft distilling as we go along. It’s time for the traditionalists to loosen up a little and have some fun!

Are Brix’s small batch releases and collaborations your way of showing just how diverse and fun rum-making can be?

Absolutely! Our Select Cask releases will be showcasing the best we have laid down in barrel over the coming years. These different small batch releases are going to set our rums apart showing the wide variation you can achieve within the rum category simply by experimenting with different barrels. All of the barrels we select will have been used for Australian wine, beer or spirits so we can really zero in and show how different flavours have been created, plus it’s a good way to team up with other like-minded brands around the country.

Check out Brix Distillers now to get 20% off your next purchase (offer ends August 17).


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