Not just for the Inner Circle!

By Franz Scheurer


Inner Circle Rum was first produced by CSR (The Colonial Sugar Refinery, an Australian sugar production company) for the company’s directors, the board and some very special clients, hence the name, Inner Circle. As the making of rum was never meant to be a commercial endeavour the aim was to produce the best rum possible and no expense was spared. The decision not to use continuous distillation but old-fashioned pot stills and aging in oak (generally ex Bourbon casks and new American oak in the case of the green circle) in excess of two years, accounts for Inner Circle’s wonderful flavour profile.


CSR was founded in 1855 and established refineries in Australia, New Zealand and Fiji.  They built the Harwood Distillery in 1873 on the Clarence River in northern New South Wales, starting domestic rum production. By 1890 they opened a distillery in Fiji and in 1901 in Pyrmont, an inner city suburb of Sydney. Using pot stills this distillery produced the highest quality rum, using sugar cane from both Australia and Fiji. The current Inner Circle rum is based on the distilling methods used in the early 1900s in Pyrmont. Although entered into Spirit Shows, and winning its first gold medal at the Sydney Agricultural Show in 1950, it was kept for the exclusive consumption of the CSR Board of Directors and the inner circle of CSR management. The ritual of presenting a bottle, once a year, to their best clients created a demand that would ultimately force this product into the market place. Opened up to the Australian market in the early 1950s, Inner Circle rum immediately developed a cult following. It was originally released in 3 strengths: Underproof, Overproof and 33 Overproof Full Strength, with a different coloured circle marking each strength. In 1986 CSR decided to sell their rum distillery interests and Inner Circle was removed from the market. A great Australian icon disappeared.


It took a crazy yachtsman and a stubborn old distiller to revitalise the brand in 2000. Stuart Gilbert, former Olympic yachtsman and an avid fan of Inner Circle rum, made the acquaintance of Malcolm Campbell, the man responsible for the distillation of Inner Circle from 1972 to 1986. Stuart had the financial means and Malcolm still had original yeast cultures in his fridge and of course the original recipe. They acquired the name, purchased and re-engineered the old Beenleigh Distillery in Queensland and Inner Circle was reborn, almost immediately winning every conceivable award around the world. Inner Circle Rum must be Australia’s most awarded spirit and, tasting it, it’s easy to understand why. This is not a party drink to mix with Coke! It’s a refined, glorious, aged spirit, deserving of a place in your liquor cabinet right next to Cognac and other brown spirits.


Today Inner Circle is available as:

Red Circle: 40% a/v

Green Circle: Overproof 57.2% a/v

Black Circle: 33 O.P. Full Strength 75.9% a/v


Tasting Notes – Inner Circle Rum – Green Circle, Overproof 57.2% a/v

Colour: Golden amber with a tinge of rose.

Nose: Demerara notes, raisins and white chocolate with a pleasant alcohol hit.

Palate: Aromas of jam doughnuts, toasty almonds with a hint of dried bananas and freshly whipped cream. Mouth filling, sweet and layer after layer of progressively drier and woodier notes finishing long and warm.

Comment: This is a fabulous drink, worthy of being consumed on its own, in a brandy balloon, without the addition of water or ice. This rum beats the Jamaicans at their own game, superb!

Score: 8.2/10