How Rum is made...

 

redbullet.GIF (256 bytes) Fermentation redbullet.GIF (256 bytes) Continuous still Distillation
redbullet.GIF (256 bytes) Distillation redbullet.GIF (256 bytes) Ageing &Cooperage
redbullet.GIF (256 bytes) Pot still Distillation redbullet.GIF (256 bytes) Blending
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Rum is distilled from the fermented products of sugar cane, usually molasses. As is the case with all distilled spirits, rum is water white when first distilled. Amber and dark coloured rums obtain their colour from the extractives from the oak barrel during ageing and from caramel, a natural colouring agent which is sometimes used.

Light-bodied rums are produced on sophisticated multi-column distillation units and have a light, delicate rum flavour. Among these are the rums from Barbados, Trinidad, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. These rums may be white or amber-coloured.

Heavy Bodied rums are produced on simpler multi-column distillation units or by means of pot stills. A longer fermentation period is also used. These rums exhibit a more intense and heavier-bodied rum flavour. They are also usually darker in colour. Such rums are produced in Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and Guyana although these countries also produce light-type rums.

Fermentation

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Molasses, a by-product of the manufacture of raw sugar from sugar cane, is used as the source of many of the worlds rums. It takes approximately 1½ gallons of molasses to produce 1 proof gallon of rum. (A British proof gallon is equivalent to a liquid gallon which contains 57% alcohol and 43% water.)

Fermentation is the process by which the sugar in molasses is converted into ethyl alcohol (C2H5OH) by the action of yeast.

The properties of yeast and its ability to convert sugar into alcohol have been known since biblical times.

Molasses in its raw state contains approximately 55% sugar. In preparation for the fermentation process the molasses is mixed with water to reduce the sugar content to 15% and then pasteurised. This mixture is known as the "live wash."

The fermentation process takes approximately 30 hours to complete during which time the yeast in the "live wash" uses up the sugar to produce alcohol and carbon dioxide. The liquid that is left at the end of the fermentation process is known as the "dead wash." This "dead wash" is what is used for distillation.

Distillation

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Distillation is the process of boiling a liquid and condensing its vapour to produce another liquid. In our procedure therefore the fermented wash is boiled by the injection of steam and the vapour condensed to produce spirit or alcohol.

The distillation unit (referred to as the still) is made up of two columns:

The Analysing Column where the wash is heated and the vapour removed and the spent product removed.

The Rectifying Column and condenser- where the vapours are condensed or liquefied and purified.

The wash enters the top of the analysing column and steam is injected at the bottom of the column. Vapour is produced (from the boiling wash), the vapour then travels up the analysing column through a number of perforated plates and goes through the vapour pipe to the base of the rectifying column. The vapour then condensed (made liquid again). The spirit is recycled through the rectifying column until the right type of product is produced.

Alcohol which is a clear liquid contains many components which gives rum its character. Some of these components have to be removed as they create unpleasant odours and tastes in the product. This is done in the rectifying column, where such components are removed.

Pot Still Distillation

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Pot Still Distillation is the traditional method of distillation that has been handed down since the inception of rum-making . Pot Still Distillation involves the use of a copper or copper-lined kettle which holds the "dead wash," a high wine retort and a low wine retort.

Steam is applied to the kettle and, after approximately one hour, the alcohol begins to evaporate. The vapour, which contains about 7% alcohol and 93% water, is passed through the low wine retort which contains a mixture (low wine) which is made up of 50% alcohol and 50% water. During the passage of the vapour through the low wine retort some of the water in the vapour condenses, and this in turn vaporises the alcohol in the low wine. Thus the vapour leaving the low wine retort is richer in alcohol than the vapour that entered it.

The vapour is then passed through the high wine retort which contains a liquid which is 75% alcohol and 25% water. The vapour is once again enriched with the alcohol from the high wine, and the vapour that leaves the high wine retort is 85% alcohol by volume. This vapour is collected and condensed, and the distillate is called rum.

The distillation process also produces vapours that contain less then 85% alcohol. These vapours are also collected and condensed and used as the high and low wines for future distillations.

Continuous Still Distillation

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This involves the use of three columns which have a source of steam at their base. The first column is used for stripping the weak solution of alcohol from the wash and the other two are used to purify and concentrate the alcoholic vapours.

The columns consist of trays with perforations and downpipes that allow the liquid to flow from one tray to the next going down the column. The stem rises through the perforations and drives the alcohol vapours up the columns. These vapours condense on the top trays and the liquid is drawn off the trays and cooled before going to the product tanks. The character of the product depends on how high up the column the condensate is drawn off.

The column still can therefore produce varying products from light rum to the purest alcohol.

Ageing and Cooperage

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Rum is a spirit that improves with age. Although exactly what takes place during the ageing process remains one of nature's secrets, it is known that rum ages best in 40 gallon oak barrels that have been charred on the inside, and that nature does not allow for short cuts in the ageing process.

The permeability of the oak allows air to pass through, and this mellows the rum. The oak also gives the rum its warm, golden colour. The warehouses where Appleton Rums are aged are always cool and pleasant, or "rum conditioned," which is as a result of the rum vapours passing through the pores of the barrel.

The cooperage, is the area where the ageing barrels are assembled. Coopering is an art and the cooper is a skilled artisan who must first serve an apprenticeship of three years before qualifying in the trade. Coopering as a trade is fast disappearing as spirit manufacturers switch to fully automated cooperages,

Blending

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The final secret of an unmistakably fine rum, is blending. This is also the final step of the rum-making process. Blending is an art form, and the Master Blender uses many different types and styles of rum to create a brand in much the same way that an artist uses different colours to create a painting.

The Master Blender now selects the barrels of rums that will be used in a particular blend based on the age, type and style of rum that it contains. These different rums are then hand-blended , and the liquid is then placed in oak vats where they undergo a "marrying" process. The "marrying" process allows the different rums to fuse together, and it also has a smoothing or toning effect on the rum. After the rum blend has been allowed to "marry," it is run into bottling vats and reduced to bottling strength by the addition of pure water. From the bottling vats the rum is passed through filters and polishers and then sent to be bottled and packaged.

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