Saccharum officinarum goes Rum
– from sugar cane to rum –
Everyone of us has already tried it- considered good or not. In various cocktails, longdrinks or in your twenties pure with cola- the goal was not a unique taste experience full of flavours but only the certain alcohol levels to celebrate parties even looser.
However, some connoisseurs already know for a long time that rum can be an incredibly versatile component or even a great full-bodied solo artist. And for all those who already hull up their nose at the mere presentation of rum: Wait, how tasty this fermented sugarcane can be!
But every good and polished blog post needs a little bit of history and background knowledge, before we reach to the actual- to what extent the rum is important for our company.
Unfortunately there are no exact traditions, nevertheless the sugarcane finds its origin in the asian region between 10.000-6.000 before christ. In the late 15th century Christoph Columbus made sugarcane accessible to the earth by the discovery of America.
He brought the plant to the today’s Dominican Repuplic and Haiti and so the rapid spread of this plant took its course.
Today, or especially today, the cultivation of this profitable plant is a major economic sector in the Caribbean. The sugar cane is also grown on a large scale in Central and South America, the Philippines, Australia, Madagascar, Mauritius, India, Réunion, in the Canary Islands and on Cap Verde.
I’d like to take a closer look at the Caribbean as a starting point, because this is exactly where Markus Eder and seven other experts have gone.
Great riches have been earned on the islands through the production of valuable sugar, which made the wealth of the plantation owners immense. But even those have to work and produce economically. So the initial waste product of the sugarcane, the molasses, has been fermented for the first time.
The emergence of the rum and its intended production took an increasing part, but was still in its infancy.
In the british colony of Barbados the story, that we’re particularly interested in, took its course in the 17th century.
A first documentary mention of the drinking as “rumbullion” was already around the year 1650 and shortly thereafter in 1667 it was already called “rhum”, which comes from the French.
The oldest still powered rum distillery “Mount Gay Distillery” has its seat on Barbados since 1663.
But the way from the initial rum, which was only drunk by locals because of the very bad quality and the unpleasant taste, to the rum we know today has been very long.
- Raw material sugarcane
-Molasses rum (Rhum Industriel)
The harvested sugar cane is crushed and pressed this juice is in turn cooked in several passes to syrup. The now darkbrown and viscous mass is the basis of brown rum, which covers 95% of rum.
This is the origin production and beacause of this, the rum is also called “Rhum Traditionel”.
-Sugarcane juice rum (Rhum Agricole)
On the french Antilles they turned away from the traditional way, because of the popularity of rum in Europe. They started to distill the fermented sugarcane juice right away.
- The fermentation
The mash is added to water and yeast, which starts the fermenation process with exclusion of air. This process takes between 24 and 72 hours. If this process is ended, the alcohol content is already at about 5-10 percent volume.
- The distillation
The distillation serves to significantly increase the alcohol content, which ends between 70 and 95% percent for rum.
There are two methods:
-discontinuous distillation = The mash is poured in portions into a copper firing vessel and distilled, which provides much higher quality and more interesting results (= “pot still”). The firing vessel consist of a bubble and a gooseneck for connection to the condenser. The firing happens directly or indirectly and is repeated for two passes. After the discontinuous distillation the alcohol content is about 20 percent volume.
– continuous distillation = Through the one-pillar system a continuous filling and distilling of the mash is made possible and the complete exchange, as in the case of the discontinuous distillation, is not given (“column still”). The results are much more uniform, but their aromatic content decreases at the back compared to discontinuously distilled rum. The won alcohol content is about 80 percent volume.
The “Rhum Traditionel”, our rum based on molasses, is distilled by the column still and afterwards filled up in barrels to mature, for example in sherry or bourbon barrels. The maturing of a “Rhum Traditionel” takes between 3 and up to 40 years, before he’s filled
up in bottles. This rum promises delightful soft and mild flavors which ensures, in combination with the annual alcohol loss of about 13% (=Angels Share) , a corresponding price.
The “Rhum Agricole”, the sugarcane juice- rum, on the other hand is pot distilled and the filled in steel tanks, where he’s stored between 3 months and 3 years without a further maturing. After maximal 3 years the white rum is also filled up in bottles.
The storage serves to evaporate unwanted hooch and it’s shortness serves a low loss of alcohol content.
Now, there are some upcoming questions: What has the company Wilhelm Eder actually have to do with it? And why is Markus Eder travelling to the Caribbean?
I don’ want to withhold the answer and longer.
We’re especially interested in rum barrels, in which the rum has been matured for a longer time to develop its full aroma and to get a golden brown color.
Brown rum is best used for cokctails and long drinks as its versatile flavors range from light wood tones to fresh fruits or sweetness, to honey tones and dried fruit. Incomparable moments of pleasure!
This is where we step up to the game: Because not only the rum itself but also the freshly emptied barrels exude the most amazing scents and give each re-allocation a special aromatic note.
These barrels should be brought back to the market with the right advice from Markus Eder, as an international expert.