nought no doubt so much the spirit calms
If you can resist these questions, go to the RUM 101 section below.
distinguishes itself from other
spirits by the plant from which it is made. In the US, rum is defined as a spirit distilled from the fermented juice of sugar cane, sugar cane syrup, sugar cane
molasses or other sugar cane byproducts at less than 95% abv and bottled at at least 40% alcohol by volume.
distilleries use this fresh juice while others use the by product
of the sugar refining process known as molasses as the raw
material for the fermentation process.
The addition of yeast to the sugar cane juice or molasses converts the available sucrose to glucose and fructose by enzymes contained in the yeast. The glucose and fructose and glucose are then converted into alcohol in a process called fermentation. Typically this takes about a day but some distilleries use yeast that takes as much as ten days. To make other spirits, the starches found in grains must be cooked and then enzymes are used to convert the starch to to glucose which can be fermented. In both cases, the resulting fermented wine contains only about 10% alcohol by volume, though this may vary from as little as 3 to as much as 12 or more % alcohol by volume.
To concentrate the alcohol in the sugar cane wine, the wine is boiled while the vapor is collected and condensed. The earliest pot stills resembled a tea kettle with a long spout and were capable of distilling only a few liters of alcohol at a time. Modern continuous stills are vertical columns about 10 meters high and are capable of distilling as much as 20,000 liters per day.
In the French islands, spirits made from sugar cane juice are typically distilled to a relatively low distillation purity resulting in a heavier tasting spirit.
Since molasses contains higher amounts of sulphur than does sugar cane juice, spirits distilled from fermented molasses are generally distilled to a high distillation purity to reduce the congeners that have been concentrated in the molasses.
Immediately after distillation, the fresh or raw spirits contain small amounts of hydrogen sulfide gas formed during fermentation which can give the spirit a hot harsh taste. Although some connoisseurs prefer fresh rum, most consumers prefer the more elegant taste of an aged spirit. Today, almost all rum is aged in used oak barrels that once held whiskey or bourbon. Aging can last from one to thirty years or more, making rum one of the most varied of the distilled spirits. During the aging process the rum acquires a golden color that changes to a dark brown with time.
Although some rum is bottled directly from the still, most rum is aged and then blended before it is bottled for consumption. Once the spirit is bottled the benefits of age are arrested and little change occurs.
The bottled strength of rum depends greatly on consumer preferences. While some rum is bottled at about 40% alcohol by volume, other rums are bottled at the strength at which it was distilled or aged.
In Brazil, Cachaça is a spirit made from from fermented sugar cane juice and distilled to between 38 and 48% alcohol by volume. In Brazil, rum is a spirit made from fermented molasses but in the US, cachaça is considered rum and must be labeled as such.
In the French West Indies, rhum agricole is made from freshly-squeezed sugar cane juice and then distilled to about 70% alcohol by volume. This flavorful spirit is called rhum agricole. It should be understood that just because a distiller claims their spirit is made from sugar cane juice it isn't necessarily rhum agricole. On Martinique the distillers have adopted the AOC Martinique Rhum Agricole mark which is similar to the AOC mark for Cognac or Champagne.
The perfect rum is really a matter of taste. If you looking for a light vodka-like rum? You'll probably like the highly distilled rums from Puerto Rico, which are some of the lightest from the Caribbean. Looking for something to sip after or to enjoy with a cigar? The best advice is to go the Rumlovers' Forum and see what our members have to suggest. And while you're there, take a few seconds to register and get information on new rums which is available only to our members.
Alcoholic spirits made only from sugar cane can be called rum. Other spirits made primarily from sugar cane with added fermented products, most commonly rice, often resemble many of the attributes of rum but aren't actually called rum. Among these are Batavia Arrack. Other spirits are made from cane neutral spirits and though they are sugar cane spirits they aren't considered to be rum in most countries.
It's not hard to find health claims that alcohol can be beneficial for a long and healthy life. It is also agreed that consuming anything in excess is not good for anyone. There are numerous alcohol treatment centers around the world including Axis Residential Treatment.