Australian rum distillery Sunshine & Sons wastes nothing, with happy cows as the beneficiary

A Sunshine Coast distillery uses local sugar cane, pineapples and tropical fruits to create rum from Australia’s only certified organic molasses.

Leftovers from the distillation process won’t go to waste either. The dunder, as it is called, is fed to eager cattle.

The leftover dunder from the distillery process has a high mineral content and is fed to cows.(Landline: Michael Rennie)

The distillery, Sunshine & Sons, is located in Woombye on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.

The distillery’s co-owner, Michael Conrad, said he had always been fascinated by the Sunshine Coast’s outback farms.

Photo of two men in a barrel room.
Owners Michael Conrad and Matt Hobson are looking to build long-term relationships with local Sunshine Coast farmers.(Provided)

Locally sourced ingredients

Sunshine & Sons co-owner Matt Hobson said he is looking to build long-term relationships with local farmers by sourcing ingredients from the Sunshine Coast.

“This farming tradition on the Sunshine Coast, there is excellence in this farming,” he said.

“A lot of the ingredients we use today aren’t because we actively researched them from farmers. Farmers came to us with, in many cases, amazing ideas that we absolutely used.

The distillery buys its cane from local producer Gordon Oakes.

Picture of pineapple.
The distillery uses locally sourced pineapples as one of the ingredients in its rum.
(ABC landline)

His family has been farming on the Sunshine Coast for 84 years and he was initially skeptical of new distillers.

“But they’ve been around for so long now, and they’ve spent a lot of money and certainly made a lot of progress. Hopefully they survive, it would be great to see a local business survive in the big market.

“To have someone promoting the area and spreading it all over Australia and around the world, I think that’s great.”

Distill Australian rum

Mr. Conrad and Mr. Hobson have big plans for the distillery and hope to break into the domestic and global fine spirits market.

“It’s ironic, but we’re thinking big,” Mr Hobson said.

Photo of distilling machines.
The distillery uses locally sourced sugar cane to make rum.(Landline: Michael Rennie)

However, the distilling duo said the road to getting the business off the ground has not been easy.

“There are many reasons why you would, if you sat down and thought long and hard about what we’re doing you might not choose to do it,” Mr Hobson said.

“What we are producing now, the volumes we estimate are needed to sustain the size of our business in a minimum of two years.”

Closing the waste loop

An increase in rum production will result in richer residual waste, or dunder, for hungry livestock.

“When we get our molasses and ferment it to produce the ethanol which we then extract to make rum, we’re left with all the original molasses with a high mineral content, a small amount of protein from the yeast that’s in there, and it’s got all this amazing life in it,” Conrad said.

Photo by dunder.
Dairy farmer Ray Devere says his cows love the dunder and can’t wait to come home and feed on it.(ABC landline)

“If we were to go and throw that away, it’s a bit lost.

“So we send him to a dairy farm and another stud farm where they use him to supplement the feed for their cattle.

“If we increase our production, it increases the amount of dunder available to farmers.”

Ray Devere’s dairy farm should benefit from the increased dunder available at the distillery.

“For four liters [of dunder] I feed a cow, I will have a liter [milk] response,” Mr. Devere said.

Photo of a milking cow.
With the growing production of rum at the distillery, local farmers will benefit from the increased availability of dunder.(Landline: Michael Rennie)

“The fact that it’s local is another plus, it’s pretty easy to get your hands on.

“I’m more than happy to take them off. I trust the boys, they make good products there, and I don’t mind, [and] the cows don’t care.”

Mr. Devere is also a fan of the rum created at the distillery.

Watch this story on ABC TV’s landline at 12:30 p.m. Sunday, or on Ito see.

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