The Red Mill Rum story

By the time George “Bunny” Fesq developed Red Mill Rum in 1933, he was already the third generation to run his family wine & spirit merchant business.

With an ear to the needs of the time, it was no surprise that the post depression years required affordable, reliable, good value drinks. He thought rum would be a good addition to the agency brands he already sold to bars and taverns across Sydney.

With the CSR distillery in Pyrmont charged with distilling the rum, he set about creating a brand. His initial idea of calling it Red Inn Rum was vetoed without discussion by the label printer, who took the liberty of creating a label with a Moulin Rouge motif and the name Red Mill. They must have agreed it was a far superior idea.

Bunny was an early and passionate believer in the automobile. He used his Model T Ford to visit outback NSW throughout the 30s, visiting pubs and communities to sell his wares. Long after Red Mill Rum was bottled in a standard round shape, he kept bottling a portion in a flatter, oval bottle – as it would fitter better in saddlebags.

It was again in a time of need that Red Mill Rum grew further. Following WWII, Bill Fesq used Red Mill Rum to ride out all the disruptions in the wine industry from Europe. It become the biggest selling overproof rum during this period, peeking in the 1960s. Those with the memory remember the “It’s Your Shout!” advertisements on Sydney trains and busses.

In 1979, Bill and his son, Mark, sold their business to William Grant & Sons whisky family, including the branding and contracts for Red Mill. The label faded away, as things do, during the early 1980s.

This humble, local Sydney rum started as a simple idea in a time of need. It grew into a staple of bars throughout New South Wales. I am Bunny Fesq’s great-grandson, and it’s joy to be building again on this legacy.


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