Vintage Cellars

Meet the Maker: Paul Kassebaum, Beenleigh Artisan Distillers

Beenleigh Artisan Distillers has been handcrafting Queensland’s favourite spirit since 1884. Come inside the rum-making process with Paul Kassebaum.


As Operations Manager for Bickford’s Group, Paul Kassebaum oversees distillation and maturation at Beenleigh Artisan Distillers, or as he calls it “all the good stuff.” A senior industry insider, seasoned winemaker (formerly Hardys) and brandy maker, it’s fair to say that Paul knows a thing or two about liquor. You could even say he was born into it – both his father and grandfather were coopers, which sparked his lifelong association with brandy barrels and distillation.


Much more than a job, making rum is a personal interest for Paul, who admits to being intrigued by the complexity of dark spirits and all the permutations that lead to the final product, particularly the use of oak and wood in the finishing process.

What do you enjoy about making rum?

Like working with wine, making rum is about creating a product that consumers enjoy, and it’s this whole creation process that interests me. From the raw ingredients and fermentation, to the way the spirit matures, and then how we as distillers and blenders can affect the final product. My philosophy is get the core right, then look at how we can layer complexity and flavours into the spirits using different ways of distilling and different barrels.

What special talents do you need to distill rum?

You need to have a good palate and good taste, because when distilling you have to make decisions on when to cut the spirit, and that’s always based on taste. Plus, you need to be endlessly inquisitive, as you are always asking the question how can I improve on this?

Beenleigh has been making rum for 129 years – to what do you attribute its longevity?

I think a lot of that comes down to our style of rum, which is light, approachable, floral and fragrant. The natural flavours from molasses really speak. It’s quite Caribbean in style, and very different from Bundaberg Rum, which is obviously the other main rum company in Queensland.

What’s new? Anything exciting in the pipeline?

We are looking at doing entry-level cane spirits, which will be more for mixers – that’s coming soon. We are also looking at different barrels to finish the rum – which is one of the most exciting things in the spirit world at the moment, although it’s more prevalent with whisky than rum at this stage. Here at Beenleigh, we have created the exclusive Tawny Barrel Rum by finishing off our   in a selection of tawny barrels, which puts a totally different type of flavour into the rum, and an extra layer of complexity. 

The Beenleigh Double Cask 5YO was a winner in the Best of Whisky and Rum Awards 2023. What can you tell us about it?

It’s a combination of five or six vintages of rum, so it goes into bourbon barrels for a part of its life, and then it’s finished and blended in large brandy vats, where it has time to integrate and marry. It’s an extension of our entry level rums, so it matures longer and has a longer time in wood. It’s the Junior XO for want of a better description

Have you got a favourite food and rum pairing?

Well, it’s probably showing my sweet tooth, but I would say chocolate. I am more than happy sipping a Tawny Barrel with a milk chocolate with hazelnut. My wife and I often do that, although she drinks wine not rum.

Now try this rum

Sip neat or on ice to savour the indulgent silky smooth characters of Beenleigh Double Cask 5YO Rum, Winner of the Rum Category in the Vintage Cellars Best of Whisky and Rum Awards.


Products featured are available from 28/06/23 to 10/07/23, while stocks last. Some products or varieties featured may not be available in all stores.