Fields of Rum: Harvest Starts At Husk Farm Distillery

WORDS: Ocean Road Magazine PHOTOGRAPHY Supplied

Life and landscapes in the Tweed Valley revolve around the annual cycle of the sugarcane crop – and so it is at the home of Husk Rum. Each year begins with the wet, hot summer months heralding the start of the growing season.

As the days shorten and the nights cool into winter, the harvest season begins. Over the next six months, hundreds of thousands of tonnes of sugar cane will be harvested and crushed in the valley.

Most of the world’s rum is made from molasses, a by-product of sugar production; as Australia’s first rum made from fresh cane juice, Husk is different. As a geologist, it was most important for founder and distiller Paul Messenger to create a rum with a strong connection to the land. At Husk, they talk of harvests in the same way a winemaker might talk of vintages, with each harvest bringing a different story.

The 2023 harvest is now underway as we transition between La Niña and El Niño, and while tonnes are down, juice quality is high, so every cane stalk is precious. Each week from now until November, the team of farmers/distillers at Husk will harvest a small crop of select cane varieties chosen for the drinking quality of their juice. Husk harvests its cane green without burning and then transports it a few hundred metres to their custom-designed and built mini sugar mill to be crushed. The fresh, cold-pressed juice is immediately transferred to the fermentation tanks where the next stage of its journey to become Australian Cultivated Rum happens.

After several days of intense fermentation, the cane juice will be transferred to the 6000L Scottish Forsyth still, where the expert distillers will produce both full-bodied pot still rums for ageing as well as lighter, fruitier, more elegant hybrid pot-column distilled spirits like Husk Pure Cane designed to be sipped unaged and as the base for the finest cocktails.

Two weeks after it was growing in the field, the rum is rested and sub-tropically aged for up to 6 years in ex-wine barrels that previously held some of Australia’s finest wines, scraped and charred before receiving the spirit of the Caldera Coast.

The rawness of the fresh juice and the interaction of indigenous and cultured yeasts create complex, balanced flavour profiles, rarely found in traditional molasses rums, and a deep connection to the land where it’s made.

But Husk Rum is not just for those who like their spirits neat, Husk also caters for a range of tastes with a variety of styles, from 100% juice ACR sipping rums to their latest release Husk Coconut, made from 100% fresh cane juice spirit infused with whole coconut flesh.

With a range of modern Australian rum crafted sustainably from farm to bottle, now is definitely the time to rethink rum.

Ready to taste the difference? Husk Farm Distillery is open seven days a week for cocktails, farm-to-bottle tours, views and lunch. Visit