By James Atkinson
New Zealand's Stolen Rum is using 'mules' to bring small quantities of its overproof variant into Australia to circumvent spirit importation laws.
Stolen is prohibited from importing its un-aged SX9 overproof rum by laws that require the liquid to be aged for two years before it can legally be called 'rum' in Australia.
To meet demand for the product, founders Jamie Duff and Roger Holmes are recruiting "mules" to carry the product into the country.
"We can't actually legally land and distribute our new product in Australia," Duff told TheShout.
"The only way we can get it in is to go back to our 'rum running' roots, which is how Stolen was built."
Duff said there's no law against using mules to import SX9, which is a "really cult, specific bartender product". Stolen is giving the rum away to its most valued Australian accounts.
"As long as you're under your duty free allowance and there's no money changing hands, it's fine," he said.
The company ran brazen advertisements seeking mules in NZ papers (pictured above left), but was prevented from doing the same in Australia.
"None of the Australian papers would run the ads because they said they contravened human rights," Duff said.
Bars that are currently stocking SX9 are Eau De Vie (Sydney), Corner House (Sydney), Anchor (Sydney), Cookie (Melbourne) and 1806 (Melbourne).
"Eau de Vie are a big supporter of ours. I muled some across to [bar manager] Luke Redington and the crew there," Duff said.
Upon delivery of the rum at its chosen destination, Duff said the mules - who are kitted out in special t-shirts (pictured right) - receive some cocktails for their trouble.
"It's a chance for the mule to actually try the rum because it's very, very hard to get your hands on, and then you're in the ands of a superb bartender making a couple of great drinks in a bar you may not have gone to," he said.