Tuesday, December 12

Home Made Rum

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Of all the different ways of making alcoholic beverages one of the easiest to make is homemade rum because all it takes to get started is a 50-50 mixture of fancy molasses and water and yeast that is allowed to ferment then is distilled into rum.

History:

The first mention of a rum like drink in history was made by Marco Polo when he was describing some sugar wine that he encountered while on his travels in Iran. However it wasn’t until the 1600s that rum became a popular drink. It was one of the favorite drinks among the slaves of the sugar islands in the Caribbean that it really became popular. Rum distillery’s quickly spread to New England and one of the main centers was located in Newburyport, Massachusetts another was in Boston. From New England the making of rum quickly spread to other countries like England, France and Spain. Today rum is made primarily in the Caribbean or Central American countries with the largest amount made in Puerto Rica.  The largest supplier of molasses to the rum trade is Brazil.

Uses:

Aside from its use as an adult beverage rum is source of industrial alcohol that is used in a variety of applications for. The industrial uses of alcohol made from molasses led to a horrible accident in Boston during the early part of the 20th century where storage tank that was filled with 1.9 million gallon of molasses collapsed releasing a flood of molasses  up to twenty feet deep that killed several people, dogs and horses also causing vast amounts of property damage that is still remembered as the Boston Molasses Flood.

Although rum is usually drank neat a good deal of it is also used in the manufacture of cordials and liquors. It is also found in many mixed drinks with really exotic names like the Zombie, the Virgin’s Lament, the Missionary’s Downfall, the Polynesian Pearl Diver and the Pineapple Bomb among many others.  Among the most popular drinks are the Pina Colada and the Bahama Mama.  If you mix several different varieties of rum together it increases the mixture’s intoxicating powers. This feature of mixing rums is taken advantage of in such drinks as the Zombie and the Polynesian Pearl Diver either of them are among the most potent drinks in the world.

Making Rum:

Rum starts as a vat full of a 50-50 mixture of fancy molasses and water with either wild or cultivated yeast is allowed to naturally ferment until the fermentation process stops. This is when the alcoholic content of the mixture reaches about 12%. The mixture is then called wort that is ready to be transferred to a still for further distilling it into rum. Once the alcoholic content of wort has been distilled out, the wort is then allowed to ferment  again producing a second batch of alcohol. This will continue as long as there is any sugar left in the solution to be fermented. With luck you might get as many as three fermentings.

After the wort has finished fermenting it is transferred into a still most them that are used commercially are column sales. All homemade rum is distilled with another still called a pot still used for batches of wort.  The pot still it is made entirely from copper. Today it is possible to buy a pot still online for this use; although it is illegal to do this in most countries. Nonetheless the stills can be found for sale on the Internet.

The expected yield from 100 gallons of fermented wort after it has been fermented ranges from 10 to 12 gallons of rum. Because you are able to ferment the wort more then once until all the sugar it contains is used up, you can expect a larger yield from multiple distillations probably in the vicinity of 20 gallons of uncut rum. By cutting it to about 90 proof you should increase the amount of drinkable rum to something greater than 40 gallons.

The use of the expended wort that contains a lot of different minerals and other nutrients making it valuable when mixed with livestock feed.  The latest use for spent wort on a large scale is found in electric production.  Another byproduct that is saved in the larger distilleries is carbon dioxide that has many industrial uses.

Freshly distilled rum is as clear as spring water with a slightly sweetish flavor.  It doesn’t acquire its distinctive color or flavor until it has been properly aged for a length of time in a charred barrel. It is eventually bottled ready for use. Traditionally rum is aged in a used whiskey barrel.

References:

Barrels of Biogas, Ryan C. Christiansen, Biomass Magazine, http://www.biomassmagazine.com/article.jsp?article_id=2540&q=&page=all

Rum, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rum

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