THE Bundaberg Distilling Company (BDC) has announced plans to invest $7.5 million to create a new visitors' experience at its Bundaberg distillery.
The upgrade will create a visitors experience fitting of Australia's most awarded rum distillery.
Visitors will be able to experience the Bundaberg Rum brand story and history through an interactive self-guided tour.
The upgrade will also include a new alfresco-dining area, as well as function facilities designed for private and corporate events.
It's expected that the investment in the upgrade, to be completed in July 2016, will result in an increase of visitors making the pilgrimage to the much-loved Queensland attraction.
Senior Brand manager Duncan Littler said in the last 10 years the BDC has invested approximately $5 million into improving the distillery as a tourist destination, which currently attracts around 60,000 domestic and international visitors every year.
"We've modelled the new visitor centre off our state-of-the-art Barrel House, as it offers visitors the chance to get a first-hand view of how our premium rums are crafted.
"The centre will be housed in two of the BDC's repurposed bond stores, which have housed millions of litres of Bundaberg Rum over the years, so you really couldn't hope to get any closer to the real experience," he added.
The museum-style experience will showcase the world's largest display of historical Bundaberg Rum bottles, as well as an expanded retail experience where consumers will be able to purchase the full range of Bundaberg Rum products, including products that are exclusively sold at the distillery.
The new tour will culminate with a unique experience, where visitors will be invited to learn about the art of blending by creating their own premium rum blend to take home.
"This year our Master Distiller's Collection Small Batch Rum was awarded Best Dark Rum in the world at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, which is widely regarded as the most influential spirit awards competition globally," said Littler.
"The premium rums we are creating here at the distillery are now being recognised on the world stage. This unique blending experience, using our world class liquids, is something we want to offer to our visitors."
Diageo Australia's Managing Director, David Smith said the $7.5 million investment in the visitors' centre was just one of many ways the distillery contributes to the local Bundaberg community.
"The Bundaberg Distilling Company has been an integral part of the local Bundaberg region for more than 125 years and we intend to be here for many years to come," said Smith.
"Through this investment we're able to ensure the success of the distillery, while at the same time ensuring the success of the region by strengthening tourism and local employment," he added.
Minister for Tourism and Major Events, Kate Jones, said the Bundaberg Rum Distillery was an iconic experience for visitors to the Southern Great Barrier Reef region and provided a real boost to the local economy.
"Tourism is an important industry for the Southern Great Barrier Reef region, contributing $1.6 billion to the economy and supporting more than 15,700 jobs," Minister Jones said.
"I congratulate the Bundaberg Distilling Company for investing in this exciting new tourist experience."
Littler said the Bundaberg distillery tour is currently listed as the number one attraction in the Bundaberg region through tourism referral website, TripAdvisor.
"I'd encourage anyone to add this Queensland institution to their Aussie bucket list," said Littler.
The announcement follows another successful Spirit of Bundaberg Festival hosted at the distillery in October, which attracted more than 5000 visitors to Bundaberg.
The redeveloped site will become the future home of the Spirit of Bundaberg Festival - Australia's largest rum festival.