Brix Distillers: Distillation Process, The Rum, The Bar & Restaurant

An in-depth look at Brix Distillers in Sydney’s Surry Hills, featuring the rum distillery, the distilling process, the bar and restaurant.

Brix Distillers

Brix Distillers

Brix Distillers, the new rum distillery by co-founders Damien Barrow, James Christopher and Siddharth Soin is on a mission, to shift attitudes towards rum and change the misconceptions of the rum category in Australia. Their aim is to produce premium Australian rum in their urban craft distillery with rum education as the cornerstone of Brix Distillers.

Brix is a fully operational 24/7 distillery and ageing facility situated along Bourke Street in Surry Hills in the vicinity of Maybe Frank and Dead Ringer. The space combines a distillery, a bar and a restaurant in an open plan design that brings all three elements together harmoniously.

Overseen by head distiller Shane Casey (ex Archie Rose), Brix Distillers has launched with a core range of Brix White and Brix Gold which can be purchased on site. Brix Spiced is currently in production.

Brix Distillers

Sugar Cane Press

The name ‘Brix’ was deliberately chosen as it refers to the measure of sugar content in a liquid. A sugar cane press is on hand turning the raw material into juice which goes into cocktails – reinforcing the message of bringing the experience close to the source.

Brix Distillation Process

Brix Distillers

Inside the Mixing Tank

Brix employs refinery grade molasses sourced from North Queensland. The molasses go into the mixing tank with carbon filtered water at around 80 degrees C for 2 to 4 hours depending on the size of the wash. Once transferred into the fermentation tank, the temperature is reduced to 30-35 degrees with carbon filtered water before yeast is introduced. Brix has chosen a combination of Caribbean rum yeast and champagne yeast to yield a balance of sweetness and dryness and a palatable still-to-bottle new make “rum”.

Brix Distillers

Fermentation Tanks

Brix has 8 fermentation tanks with a capacity of 1000 L each. The ferment spends 3-4 days in the fermentation tank and ends with the by-products of ethanol and carbon dioxide in a small non-dangerous capacity. At the bottom of the fermentation tank, bubbling is seen as an indicator the ferment is still in progress. Once the bubbling subsides, the yeast has consumed all the sugar, the temperature drops and the yeast die. Once fermentation stops, water and ethanol solution are moved to the copper still where distillation follows to separate ethanol from water.  

Brix Distillers

The Still

The yet to be named 1200 litre still was custom-made in Ballarat, a hybrid copper pot and column still with 5 plate filtration. The plates control how much is left in or out, depending on type of rum to be made, how much molasses, yeast, length of fermentation. Each plate is in essence a secondary distillation, removing impurities to yield a more mellow and palatable distillate.

In the case of Brix White which is the new make spirit, the plates are used to obtain a distillate that is drinkable straight off the still after dilution. The liquid comes off the still at around 85% ABV and is cut down with deionised twice carbon filtered Sydney tap water. In the case of aged spirits, a more complex and richer style of distillate is sought to allow for mellowing in the barrels.

Brix Distillers


Next, it goes into the condenser where cold water goes in with vapour passing through the centre of a closed cylinder, cooling the warm vapour and condensing back into a liquid. As the water cools the warm vapour, the water is hot at the top and comes back down and into bottom to tank no 7, which is the hot water tank, to recycled the following day.

The process is run 3 to 4 times to build a certain quantity a week before bottling by hand begins. Theoretically, if the process was done from start to finish, it would take between 5 and 6 days in total with 1 day of mixing, 3-4 days of fermentation and 1 day of distillation.

The team has been experimenting with agricole rhum and a test run of 50 litres of freshly-pressed sugar cane juice yielded just 2 litres of agricole rhum in a day and a half.

Brix Distillers

Barrel Ageing

Brix is ageing the distillates in 200L ex wine barrels sourced from well-known wineries around the Sydney region such as the Hunter Valley, Mudgee, Orange and Southern Highlands. Their point of difference is the careful selection of barrels that are not too old to get the desired oak influence. Wine, being a lower ABV takes the water soluble characteristics from the barrels while the distillate which goes in barrels 60-70% ABV, extracts a lot of ethanol soluble flavours from the oak.

Naturally, one of the challenges of this distillery is space and Brix is planning an off-site storage facility as well as further expansion through limited releases.

Brix Distillers: The Rum

Brix Distillers has launched with two spirits, Brix White and Brix Gold with Brix Spiced to follow.

Brix Distillers

Brix White (40% ABV) is an unaged spirit (therefore it can’t be called rum). Straight from the still, the distillate is cut down with deionised twice carbon filtered Sydney tap water. On the nose, fresh and bright aromas with estery and fruity notes lead to a palate that is big on flavour with notes of tropical fruit such as banana, pineapple and hints of desiccated coconut and finishes long and warming. It’s not overly sweet and makes for fine sipping on its own and encourages creative experimentation with cocktails (see below) – an excellent white spirit that is the expression of the distillery.

Brix Gold (40% ABV) is a blend of 5 yo and 8 yo rums from Barbados aged in ex Bourbon casks, a unique expression created for Brix Distillers. The rum was developed in collaboration with an international master blender and was designed to provide an expression of what Brix Gold Rum will be once it’s in production locally. The nose is strong on vanilla notes and coconut while the palate combines tropical fruit such as paw paw and banana with oaky notes that gives the rum a slightly drier finish.

Brix Spiced is currently in its early stages with the team having started spice infusions that include macadamia nuts, cacao, cinnamon, vanilla, mango and avocado seed to name a few.

As mentioned above, the team is also experimenting with a small run of agricole rhum using fresh juice from the sugar cane press on site and the first trial yielded a rhum with fresh vegetal notes with a sharp flavour that peaks then quickly disseminates.

Brix Distillers: The Bar

Take a seat at the bar and you’ll see the shiny copper still and its column peering at you from behind, reminding you that you’re in a working distillery.

The Brix Distillers’ cocktail list was created by Bar Manager Doug Laming (ex The Smoking Panda, Mr G’s, and Rabbit Hole Bar) and features variations on classics that have been given the Brix touch.

Brix Distillers

Raising the Dead

Raising The Dead is a take on the Corpse Reviver #2 and the combination of Brix White with Cointreau, Lillet Blanc, lemon juice and sugar cane syrup in an absinthe rinsed coupette is simply sensational. If you’re after a cocktail that showcases the flavours of Brix White, this is the one not to miss and possibly have another.

Brix Distillers

Dry Hemingway

Dry Hemingway combines grapefruit infused Brix White with Adelaide Hills distillery Bitter Orange, passionfruit syrup and lime juice. The aroma of the Brix White is evident throughout I a dryer in a dry style of Daiquiri with grapefruit notes.

Brix Distillers

Long But Fat Like Buddha

Long But Fat Like Buddha showcases Brix Gold with Dom Benedictine, Cointreau, Blackcurrant Tea Syrup, lengthened with Fever Tree Tonic and topped with a Malbec Float. The cocktail is very sessional particularly with the warmer months around the corner and brings together a balance of fruity and tannic notes that develop further in the glass.

You’ll also find rum-based classics such as the Mojito, Pina Colada, Daiquiri and Cuba Libre if you’re so inclined, but our tip is to pick any cocktail made with Brix White and work your way down the list.

Brix Distillers: The Restaurant

The food at Brix Distillers features a casual shared dining menu by Colombian chef Ivan Sanchez (ex Bodega and Porteno) with South American flavours designed to complement the rum.

Brix Distillers


Start with the Arepas with molasses braised pork shoulder. They’re not to be missed and they go down well with rum cocktails such as the Dry Hemingway.

Brix Distillers

Butter grilled prawns, chilli oil, lime, rum coconut cream

The butter grilled prawns get just the right drizzle of chilli oil, lime juice and rum coconut cream, the latter complementing the sweet meat of the prawns.

Brix Distillers

LP’s Chorizo

Moving into smoky and spicy territory, LP’s chorizo comes served on top of thinly-sliced pickled green tomatoes that cut through the delicious fat and smoke.

Brix Distillers

Cassava Chips

Pair it with the crispy thick-cut Cassava Chips and we promise you won’t regret it.

Brix Distillers

Chargrilled Skirt Steak

For something a little more substantial, you can’t go wrong with the tender and succulent Chargrilled skirt steak with a warm tomato salsa and chimmichuri.

Brix Distillers

The Brix Distillers bar is open Mondays to Saturdays from midday to midnight and from midday to 10pm on Sundays.

Brix Distillers is featured in the Australian Distillery Directory.

Brix Distillers
352 Bourke Street, Surry Hills

Photography © by Gourmantic – Copyright: All rights reserved.

About the author

Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is a drinks writer, author of GROW YOUR OWN COCKTAIL GARDEN, SHRUBS & BOTANICAL SODAS and founder/editor of Gourmantic, Cocktails & Bars and The Gourmantic Garden. She has been writing extensively about spirits, cocktails, bars and cocktail gardening in more recent years. She is a spirits and cocktail competition judge, Icons of Whisky Australia nominee, contributor to Diageo Bar Academy, cocktail developer and is named in Australian Bartender Magazine's Top 100 Most Influential List. Her cocktail garden was featured on ABC TV’s Gardening Australia and has won several awards. She is a contributor to Real World Gardener radio program and is featured in several publications including Pip Magazine, Organic Gardener, Australian Bartender and Breathe (UK). Read the full bio here.