Meet the man with the best job in Queensland
WHILE most are drawn to the Distillery by the sweet smell and taste of all-Aussie rum, for Graham Golchert it was a job opportunity - the rum was just a bonus.
Forty years on, the now Production Manager of the Bundaberg Rum Distillery reckons he's got one the best jobs on the planet.
We caught up with Graham to find out what it was like working at the heart of one of Queensland's finest spirits.
And it was just as we suspected…
"It's such a great place to work; I don't go one day without learning something," he said.
"Every day is different, but most days first up I check how everything ran the previous night and catch up with the teams.
"Then I start looking at that day's numbers - how much (rum) we made overnight, the quality etc.
"You can end up spending quite a lot of time analysing the data and you're always looking for ways to maintain the quality of our rum or find opportunities for innovation."
The team is often called upon to do taste-tests as part of the Distillery's quality program.
"We get to try the new blends and can sometimes do several taste-testing panels in a week," Graham said.
The organoleptic panel is part of the Distillery's human element of quality testing, where three samples are provided to 12 panellists. Two are the same and one is different.
The panellists don't know which one is which and the aim is to pick the odd one out.
If they cannot pick the difference, the vat has the Bundy characteristics required and is ready to be bottled.
There is one blend Graham said he'd never fail to identify - Bundaberg Original.
"I like all the products to be honest, but the Original is the one I keep going back to," he said.
Over the four decades he has worked there, Graham has seen a multitude of changes from staff, to distillery operations, even the gardens have had a makeover. But there is one thing that hasn't.
"The rum. The way we make it hasn't changed and it won't change - you don't spoil something that's already perfect," he said.
"The only difference in the manufacturing process is the procedures we have in place to help us ensure every batch is exactly the same."
Graham said he and his team were working full-pelt from 10pm Sunday to 10pm Friday every week to keep stocks up for the festive season.
He invited ARM readers to head to Bundaberg over the Christmas period to check out the distillery.
"Bundaberg itself is a beautiful place with a great climate; perfect for a holiday," he said.
"We've just opened our new Visitor Experience which is remarkable.
"There are lovely gifts for people to buy, nice drops for Dad or Grandad or anyone in the family.
"Plus our Blend Your Own Rum Experience is really unique and well worth doing and you can take tours through the factory and see how it all works."
As for Graham, he'll be taking a few days off over Christmas for a well-deserved break.
While he isn't much of a golfer with "three left legs and two right arms", he says he will enjoy the chance to spend time with his family and have a tinker in the shed building model steam engines - with a festive rum, of course.
Head to the Bundaberg Rum website for more information on the distillery, tours and more.