Rum, you say it and you would want to say it again. Try it. Rum. Rum. Personally I prefer Rum in winters and mostly with warm water, and if needed then with a dash of lemon. Rum-Cola is though more popular here, it hides the social-taboo part of the drink from prying eyes, its all the more sweet so gulp-able and with some ice, it makes a pretty nice combination that lasts long.
While almost everyone knows that Rum is made from molasses, not all of us are aware about the actual process. So before we go that path, lets try to figure out the origin of this wonderful form of liquor. Rum has its origins in Caribbean islands where it seems to have been discovered. Its been believed that Christopher Columbus brought sugarcane to the island of Hispaniola, via the Canary Islands. The local warm climate did wonders to the crop and over time it became one of the big cash crops with sugar mills churning sweet all over. Later someone figured out that if molasses is fermented, you can get alcohol.
Some people also say that the fundamental development of fermented drinks from sugarcane juice was done in ancient India or China and then it spread from there. Marco Polo, the great traveler and businessman, also recorded in his writings about a wine made out of sugar, which was being offered to him. He has found that in modern day Iran.
The Caribbean story though is much more modern and it can be said with fair accuracy that the first distillation from sugarcane happened there. Even within Caribbean islands, Barbados seem to have been the epicenter and considered as the pioneer in Rum distillation. So much for history, time to learn about the process of making of Rum.
As I said in the beginning that its a FOUR step process. Though anyone can argue that its not really ‘The Standard’ process as every locale has its own set of secret things but overall here’s the process.
Step1 – Fermentation
Take Sugarcane and make molasses. Molasses is nothing but a thick dark syrup produced by boiling down juice from sugar cane.
Add Yeast and water to the base ingredient. To get a consistent taste and to predict and control fermentation, people use a specific strain of a yeast. Light rums like Bacardi use faster-working yeast, that helps it to not get too sugary (esters). The whole game of fermentation is key and every manufacture has its own bit of nuances to either make it light, fermented, complete etc.
But whatever it is, the basic process of fermentation is the first step towards making Rum.
Step2 – Distillation
Column still distillation is a common way where as some producers also use pot stills. If you do it in pot still, the output is a fuller-tasting rum become it has more congeners.
Step3 – Aging
Keep the Rum for a period as per brand need or even local taste need. This is done either in bourbon casks or even in stainless steel tanks or in wooden casks. Since Rum production happens in warm climates, it ages faster then say a whiskey, done in scotland. There is something called ‘Angel’s share’, the amount of product lost due to evaporation. The ‘Angel’s share’ is much higher in case of Rum because of warm climate and hence you could also deduce that Angels love this drink more then your high-nose super-expensive scotch. In case of Scotch, this share is not more then 2% because of cooler climate.
Step4 – Blending
Blending is done, as with other forms of liquor, to ensure a consistent flavor, color etc. Caramel is added for color. For consistency, you mix various batches. Some manufacturers also add other things.
Thats about it. Simple and clean. So next time, you have your glass of Rum, remember this process as you take your first sip and I am sure that you would enjoy your drink better. I have tried to be very concise but if you have any queries, feel free to put a comment and I would try to find a relevant response.