Early mornings are designed for acoustic chill, bleary yawns and coffee in a MiiR Travel Tumbler that very slowly cools. Add in a cruisy four-hour road trip, and you will find yourself waaay north of Perth in the sweet sea-side township of Dongara. This is where Illegal Tender Rum Co can be found, nestled in amongst five acres on the Palmer family farm in the estates of Springfield.
Codie (Master Distiller) and Hayley Palmer are busy, so very busy. Codie is flat out distilling rums with the team as fast as his set up will allow. We first spoke about a crazy little idea of combining a coffee with a spirit back at the start of 2020. Fast forward many months and Illegal Tender Rum Co has experienced a world-wide pandemic, military orders for creating hand sanitizer and an award for the ‘World’s Best Column Distilled Rum, Five Years and Under’. Meaning, things have not slowed down in the least for the distillery, but they were still on board to set aside some time to experiment and collaborate with us.
The first step, or ingredient rather, in distilling is sugar. Illegal Tender Rum Co mix a huge quantity of quality sugar with filtered rainwater to ferment and become a ‘wash’. Yeast is added to eat up all the sugar and convert it into alcohol. The warmer the day/s, the faster this process is. Once Codie has evaluated that all the sugar has fermented it is ready for the next step. Side note: This hazy, yeasty-smelling, tongue-coating alcoholic liquid is also what is knowns as ‘distillers’ beer’ in the biz. And there is one word for it my friends: YUMMO!
From here, the wash is placed into a column still and goes through it twice, each time refining and purging, in particular toxic substances like methanol and acetone. In specialty coffee we are accustomed to purging, however our reasons are mainly for QC and any missteps by us will likely not cause harm to anyone. No wonder distillers earn themselves the title ‘Master’! Once the liquid reaches an ABV of 40% things start to diverge from Codie’s usual recipes. To be classified as an Australian rum, the liquid would need to sit in a barrel to age for a minimum of 2 years. We don’t have foresight or the patience to wait that long, so thankfully the process for this spiced cold brew liqueur is significantly shorter! Codie works with a lot amazing ingredients, many of them native to Australia, and can be found in their Bush Tucker Spiced Rum. 20 of these ‘secret herbs and spices’ were added to this liquor, then finally came our addition: cold brew concentrate created from honey processed coffee from Tade GG Estate.
The coffee used hails from a small farm sitting at an impressive 1860-1950masl in Shakisso, Oromia region the Guji coffee zone in Ethiopia. It is a personal favourite of mine, and I look forward to it landing in our line up each season. This particular lot of green, produced by Tesfaye Bekele, is superb sensory wise and is unique in that the processing method used (honey process) is still considered experimental in Ethiopia. Honey processing refers to the method of leaving parts of the mucilage of the cherry on the coffee seed/bean before being dried. For the Tade GG Estate Honey, this lends an added depth of complexity and sweetness to the cup and highlights the coffees creaminess in body. In short, the perfect mix to compliment the Bush Tucker Spirt!
Cold Brew season rolls around every summer however, for ease of service, most cafes and coffee shops make a ready-to-serve coffee beverage. It’s not common to create brew as super concentrated this project needed. To achieve this, we combined 25g of coarsely ground Tade GG Estate Honey coffee per 100ml of filter water in large 20L Toddy Commercial Cold Brew System. These then brewed over 14 hours in a refrigerated environment to extract all the goodness and deliciousness.
The result of these two liquids, cold brew coffee and Bush Tucker spirit (arguably my AM and PM) colliding is a delicious cup of wonder, something to salute the end of one heck of a 2020! The delicate florals from the Tade GG and the native botanicals (lemon myrtle, wild rosella and wattleseed are a few) mix perfectly with the warming spices. There is bucket loads of flavour, presenting vanilla and butterscotch along with a crème brulee. The syrupy and coating mouthfeel dissipates into long coffee notes and leaves you yearning for another taste already.
As such a limited amount of this liqueur has been produced, it was bottled into 200mls so to share as far as possible. It is available from our website as part of the Double Barrel Spirits pack (includes another delicious coffee and spirit collaboration!) or directly from Illegal Tender Rum Co’s website.
When one combines passion with excellent mastery of craft and quality ingredients, there’s always pressure for success; of creating a product you can feel proud of. Maybe the early budding sense of achievement made setting off at 5am on a misty morning somewhat easier, or perhaps it was the Tade GG Washed filter coffee in my mug, or the feeling of actually being allowed to get in a car and drive somewhere, but that road trip to Dongara was worth every single part of effort. Hope you enjoy!