Nil Desperandum is Australia’s Finest Rum. The purest rums, distilled with love, art & science by masters of their craft on the Sunshine Coast. Wild fermented, locally sourced Australian certified organic molasses, Woombye water, dunder & muck, double pot distilled then aged in select oak barrels for a minimum of 2 years–100% unadulterated with no added sugar, additives, or colors.
“Nil Desperandum, the Latin translation for ‘Nothing to Despair’ is today the uniquely Australian expression of easy-going optimism regardless of the circumstances–‘No Worries’! We just love that. And it gives you an idea of who we are and why we do what we do.” Matt Hobson, Sunshine Coast Distillery, Founder.
Learn more about him, in the next interview:TRL: What does the rum mean for you? What made you fall in love with rum and when did it happen?
On 18 January 1788, the oldest continuous civilization on earth and the indigenous custodians of what is now modern-day Australia were confronted with the 11 tiny sailing vessels of the First Fleet – British ships that brought the first British colonists and convicts to Australia. This Fleet, under the command of Captain Arthur Phillip, had departed Portsmouth, England 13 May 1787 and sailed over 24,000 kilometers (15,000 miles) and over 250 days to eventually arrive in Botany Bay, New South Wales. On 26 January 1788, the Fleet sailed to Port Jackson. Phillip named the site they anchored Sydney Cove.
Records show the fleet had left Portsmouth with 3,000 liters of rum and prior to disembarking Rio de Janeiro to journey to Sydney via Cape Town had uplifted a further 55,000 liters of rum distilled from treacle. Not bad for the 1,373 souls that arrived in Sydney. The quintessential Australian spirit was from that day and remains Rum.
Enjoyed by many Australians since 1788 and subsequently produced from sugar cane and sugar cane products grown in the fertile tropics of the east coast of Australia. Any history of modern Australia includes rum as a currency, a rebellion, and a tradition. My love of rum shaped me in a child’s classroom well before I tasted it.TRL: Three essential characteristics that define the rum according to your perspective.
Nil Desperandum Rum and our Distillery are Australian Certified Organic. There are no traces of man-made chemicals at any point in our production and aging and packaging.
Nil Desperandum Rum is wildly fermented using Organic Certified molasses from selected and geographically located Organic Certified sugar cane, Woombye water, dunder & muck. That organic and natural process gives a terroir to our rum that can only be found in the virgin sub-tropical rainforest that surrounds our Distillery.
Nil Desperadum Rum is double distilled in Australian made pot stills and barrel aged on the beautiful sub-tropical Sunshine Coast.TRL: What is the most important contribution you have made in the rum industry?
Our distillery began operation on Australia Day 2020. In that short time, I am most proud to now employ 10 incredible people who work with me every day to produce and bring to consumers all over the world Australia’s finest Rum. To be awarded Best Pot Still at the 2022 Australian Rum Awards for both The Wild Muck and Botanical 2022 releases was a tribute to their work and dedication.
I was recently told by an owner of one of the most acclaimed rum bars in Australia that he simply can’t believe Nil Desperandum rum is produced in Australia. After a lifetime of hospitality and involvement in rum he had believed Australian rum simply wasn’t and couldn’t be as good as the great rums of the Caribbean.TRL: Benefits that the rum industry has given you.
The thanks and delight of so many of our customers when they discover an Australian rum equal to the world’s best is more than enough. A rum 100% unadulterated without added sugar, colors, or additives is a long way from the expectations of Australian rum consumers of what an Australian Rum is – and it’s exciting to be changing that.
TRL: What’s another thing you are passionate about, besides rum? Why?
I no longer own Maserati cars, having sold my collection to help fund the distillery. One day, hopefully, they will return. Maseratis are like a great rum, smooth and enticing & when enjoyed, exhilarating and rewarding.
TRL: What is your favorite place for drinking rum?
The Sunshine Coast is famous for its incredible beaches. Anywhere I can see the waves meeting the shore, preferably with just the right amount of cloud on the horizon at the end of a warm day.
TRL: Favorite drink + Recipe
Woombye Mai Tai
Shake well over ice30ml Nil Desperandum One Second Rum 15ml Sunshine & Sons Original Cane (sweetened cane spirit) 15ml Cointreau Orange Liqueur 15ml freshly squeezed Sunshine Coast-grown lime juice 30ml house-made orgeat – by a great friend and business partner, Michael Conrad
Dash of orange bitters
Strain & pour over crushed ice in a glass tumbler or short glass.
Top with lime wheels and a splash of Nil Desperandum Go Fourth Rum
TRL: Why is it important to educate the rum consumer?
Competition from other spirits, not just brown spirits, and other drinks are immense. Rum deserves the interest of consumers, but this interest should not be taken for granted. Education is key.
The Rum Consumer should be loved and adored and respected. Without a consumer, even the best rum sits on a shelf or in a dark cellar and has no value. A rum consumer deserves and values truthfulness, transparency, and integrity. To know that products have intrinsic value other than those projected through superficial means.
TRL: Any tips to train the palate and taste a good premium rum?
Of course, the nose is all-important–lift slowly from your breastbone and search for the layers of expression as the glass rises. I suggest novices wipe the spirit on the tongue–a wet finger perpendicular to the tongue wiped from the back to the front. Alcohol has warmth – if you’re searching for alcohol without the warmth of any kind as a judge of quality, you’re likely to find yourself down a route of rums with sugars and additives. Indeed, many Australians prefer it.
Practice makes perfect. And understand if you like a particular expression or product, it’s a good premium rum–not because the label or someone told you it is.
TRL: Is the commitment to sustainable development the key to success for the permanence of the rum industry in the world? Why?
Agriculture must be sustainable to be successful. Our staff, our consumers, our investors, and our trade partners expect this. And we are very pleased to meet and exceed those requirements through innovative pathways such as production, energy usage, packaging, transport and return to the agriculture of our significant organic certified waste streams.
TRL: Who would like to meet in the rum industry? What would you say to him/her?
I was lucky enough to host my now good friend Raphaël Grisoni Mount Gay Rum’s managing director when he visited our Distillery in 2022. His recent replacement Antoine Couvreur would be more than welcome to trace Raphael’s footsteps and taste from some of our barrels. I’d love his feedback, of course. I think Mount Gay, the custodianship of their brand and history, and their commitment to a geographical sign (GI) for Barbados rum should be applauded.
TRL: What are your next goals in the rum industry?
It is an enormous challenge to fund and produce what we estimate is the 3rd largest volume of rum currently being produced in Australia, well behind Bundaberg and Beenleigh, and to age it for the minimum of 2 years that Australian Law requires. And to increase production well before demand to allow our brand to be the size that we plan to be in the future. That ongoing work is day-to-day! And it’s hard.
We have partnered with Proof Drinks Australia and we will release Nil Desperandum Special on a national scale in May. I can’t wait to see and hear the reactions from trade and consumers. It’s an incredible rum affordably priced that, given that combination I expect, will refine the category of Australian rum.
We have already allocated barrels for a 2032 Brisbane Olympic Games Release–that’s so exciting.
TRL: Plans you have when you leave the rum industry.
To have left behind a brand known around the world for quality and integrity that has and will continue to shape the lives of the people that have made the brand possible. I’ll be on a beach somewhere drinking some of the great rums we have already produced and will produce in the future.
TRL: Why is the role of the bartender important in the rum industry?
Customers in the on-premise and equally the off-premise channel are looking to be guided and to learn. Those customers are time-poor, are searching for value, are often confused, have been challenged with disappointing products, and are searching for help and guidance. Essential if they are to enter and stay connected to the category of rum. After all, there are so many other noble spirits and drinks to choose from.
TRL: What is your advice for new generations in the rum industry?
Listen, look, learn, and, above all, taste and smell.
Understand that vested interests, including brands, media, and advertisers, are furthering their own goals that may not align with yours.
If you are a proponent of premiumising rum, do just that by actions, not words. Too many are seeking to trade off the reputation and standing of others while producing or supplying sub-optimal products that, in some, are actually harmful to the category. Eager consumers don’t remain eager for too long if they are being told how good rum is–and it isn’t or isn’t consistent.
TRL: How can people learn more about you? Website? Social media page?
Our distillery is open every day from 10 am on Australia’s beautiful sub-tropical Sunshine Coast. 104 Nambour Connection RD Woombye QLD 4559.
Try to get a well lit shot from the front of the rum label
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