Deep Dive - What is Rum? How is it different than other alcohol?

Jul 3, 2024

Let's break down the basics:

Starting from the top, rum is a spirit distilled from a fermentation of either sugar cane molasses, sugar cane juice, or sugar cane syrup.  Which base product is fermented typically depends on the traditional production method of the region but also a decision made by the distiller.

Rum hails from the tropics as that's where sugar cane grows naturally. This is for the same reason that the United States produces a lot of bourbon (corn), and the Scots & Irish make a lot of Whiskey (barley) - humans have been fermenting and distilling whatever is naturally growing around them for hundreds (even thousands) of years.


Let's talk fermentation:

After the sugar cane is harvested it is either pressed into a juice and fermented (this what differentiates Rhum Agricole, Clairin, certain Cashaça etc. from others), turned into a syrup and fermented, or refined into sugar. 

The sugar-making process produces a byproduct; molasses. While no more crystalline sugar can be squeezed out, the molasses itself still contains a good bit of residual sucrose, and lots of flavor - perfect for fermentation.

Rum produced from molasses or syrup tend to be more fruity with caramel notes while rum made from fresh pressed sugar cane juice tends to be more grassy, funky & vegetal.

There are numerous other factors that affect flavor profile aside from the base fermentation, things like fermentation times, yeast/fermentation method, distillation method, aging and a whole lot more. We've done a deep dive into many of these subjects that you can explore on our Rum 101 page or by peeking through the Cocktails and Communiqué blog.


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