Get ready for the Best Pot Still Rum at the 2022 Australian Rum Awards. Let that sink in for a second. Best. Pot Still. Rum.
It’s 100% certified organic. It is 100% wild yeast fermented using dunder and muck in the wash, and it’s a single cask, pure single rum.
It’s an EXTREMELY LIMITED EDITION. It’s so exclusive, even I needed to join a private club to be able to offer it to the Rum Tribe (…it’s a dirty, dirty job I tells ya!!)
That’s right – to get our hands on Nil Desperandum’s The Wild Muck – I had to join a club myself. Nil Desperandum’s THE 1871 CLUB which showcases exclusive single barrel releases selected by Head Distiller, Adam Chapman.
Nil Desperandum is one of the growing number of Australian distilleries utilising ‘dunder and muck’ in the production of its rum. In the early days, they used commercial yeasts whilst they experimented and developed their own ‘muck pit’. The Wild Muck is Nil Desperandum’s first fully certified 100% organic rum and the first utilising muck and dunder to seed the molasses mash with wild yeast. Nowadays all their rum is made using the only the wild yeasts of Wombye!
So what is this ‘Dunder’ and ‘Muck’, and what does it do?
Well, those with a delicate constitution may wish to look away now, because as the names suggest, dunder and muck isn’t the loveliest stuff in the world. Dunder is what’s left over in a rum still once the spirit has been distilled out of the wash. It’s essentially dead yeast, water and whatever caramelised, boiled out, leftover gunk they can scrape out of the still after a run. The dunder is then chucked in a ‘dunder pit’ which could [traditionally] be a big hole in the ground (an actual ‘pit’ of ‘dunder’ as it were), but in Nil Desperandum’s case its put into modified IBC’s (or Intermediate Bulk Container – essentially a huge plastic cube – see photo below).
The dunder is ‘fed’ carbohydrates in the form of – well.. whatever fruit etc is lying around the distillery or surrounding farms. This added sugar allows a secondary fermentation to begin by any wild yeast that happen to land in the pit. By this stage the ‘dunder pit’ is a foul looking, cow-shit reeking, bubbling vat of the nastiest looking sludge you can imagine. This wonderfully vile concoction of wild yeasts, and the flavour molecules they excrete along with CO2 and alcohol is what ‘seeds’ the next rum mash.
Use of Dunder and muck in rum production originated in Jamaica around the same time as the slaves discovered making rum. It makes sense as it provided an inexhaustible supply of an otherwise hard to come by (in those times) resource – yeast! With the commercialisation and industrialisation of rum production in the subsequent years, reliability, repeatability and yield of the fermentation process became essential. Thus the uptake of commercial and proprietary yeasts saw the use of wild yeasts dwindle – and so muck and dunder began to be a fond memory with only a handful of distilleries interested. Luckily, there has been a ‘rediscovery’ of dunder and muck use in rum distilling, and Nil Desperandum has embraced it with stunning results.
What does it do? Essentially it makes use of the local yeasts – and not just one specific type. As you can imagine, each strain of wild yeast will add it’s own ‘flavours’ to a wash. I was lucky enough to try a few previous Nil Desperandum rums (using commercial yeasts) up against the Wild Muck – as well as a few other of Nil Desperandum’s recent releases utilising wild yeast from their own muck and dunder. Same still, same distiller, same cask types, roughly same time in the cask. The rums made with the wild yeasts most definitely and noticeably had a much rounder, and fuller, richer body to them. They were without a doubt, bigger and more complex rums, flavour wise.
Our Tasting Notes
Nose: Very clove-y at first, then liquorice all sorts and dark chocolate. Some gingernut biscuits there as well plus a beguiling (yet not unpleasant) –almost iodine-y note at the back.
Palate: Big and oily bold with funky tropical fruit salad, but also traditional stewed fruits and Christmas pudding notes as well as more of those gingernuts in the mix.
Finish: Big and long and warm. Some pepper, some fruit… but big molasses notes, liquorice, toffee and dark chocolate all in for the ride.
WOW – lots and LOTS of flavours burst in and out – and then reappear a couple of sips later. Very complex, you could easily [over] analyse this one for hours and make a new flavour discovery every sip!
From Nil Desperandum
Powerful dark red berry fruits with notes of toffee, crème brûlée, blackberries, raisins and dates.
Australian certified organic molasses, Woombye water, wild yeast, dunder, muck and nothing else.
Double pot distilled and aged in a single oak barrel emptied of bourbon and port.
Aroma – Powerful dark red berry fruits, dried aged molasses, toffee, brulee edges, and dried raisins and dates
Palate – Dry rich, elegant palate of dried red fruits. Red currants and dried blackberries. The richness and full body coming from the dunder and extra length from the wild yeast influences.
About Nil Desperandum
Nil Desperandum – the Latin translation of ‘Nothing to Despair’ and what would a century later become the uniquely Australian expression of easy-going optimism – No Worries. We just love that. It not only sums up the Sunshine Coast – it also gives you an idea of who we are and why we do what we do.
Our Inspirations are the cane fields of the Sunshine Coast and the world’s best rums – distilled in the Caribbean since the 1600’s. Sugar cane has been growing in our region for over 150 years. It’s well and truly time Australia had a rum the equal of the world’s best.
The distillery is accredited by Australian Certified Organic as producing Australian Certified Organic Rum. The first to do so from Australian molasses.
Using locally produced certified organic molasses, the finest methods including natural ‘wild’ fermentation, and our bespoke Tasmanian made copper stills, every bottle of Nil Desperandum is produced with Love, Art & Science.
Australians love rum and so do we. Our spirits belong in the glass of someone with a passion for good things in life who just knows there’s something more.
You’re welcome. Enjoy.