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Rum (History, Production Process, Brands)



“Rum” is an alcoholic distillate made from sugar cane, or its derivatives like sugar cane juice, molasses or other sugar cane by-products. The base is combined with water & yeast and after fermentation if is distilled. Majority of rums are produced from molasses. Molasses-based rum is distilled via a column still; sugarcane-based rum is often distilled via a pot still.

History of rum

The origin of the word ‘Rum’ is unknown, however, it is believed that it is shortened form of the word ‘Rumbullion’ which is West Indian word to fight or “Saccharum” Latin word for sugar. The Spanish word for rum is ‘Ron’ the French call it ‘Rhum’. It was the fiery nature of rum led to nickname like “Kill- Devil”. It is also called Nelson Blood.

The development of the rum industry hosted from the exuberant growth of sugar cane plantations in the West Indies. Back in the 17th century, British settlers cultivated sugar cane plantations as the foundation of their economic growth. The need for laborers and load to run these plantations opened a capital-intense business. These expansions created a demand and an influx of slaves. A skipper would leave with a cargo of rum from the ports of New England headed towards West Africa. There he would trade his cargo of rum for many slaves and proceed back to the West Indies in the exchange of the slaves for molasses. The molasses were transported back to New England, Connecticut and New York to be distilled into rum. The skipper would repeat his trip making a great profit.

Production Process

Rum (History, Production Process, Brands) 1 

It is made from the byproduct of the sugar refineries called ‘Molasses’. After the sugar crystallizes a dark murky mass i.e.
the molasses remains which is fermented and distilled. For ease in handling, water is added to molasses. Depending upon
the type of fermentation (Slow/Quick) the yeast is added.


In slow fermentation the skimming of the previous distillation known as ‘Dunder’ is added. Also the natural yeast in it
settles on the surface. This ‘Slow’ fermentation can take up to 12 -20 days to complete.
In ‘Quick’ fermentation cultivated yeast strains are added which may last for 2 days or a little longer. This fermentation
is associated with the production of ‘White or Light’ flavoured rums. After fermentation the wash will have an alcoholic
strength of about 7% ABV.


The slow fermented wash is generally distilled in ‘Pot Still’. The pot still product after two distillations comes at 86%
ABV and contains generous percentage of congeners, flavours and bouquet. Only the heart is sent for maturation. The
heads and tails being sent back for redistillation.
The quick fermented wash is distilled in ‘Patent Still’. The patent still product is normally light in body with an alcoholic
strength of not less than 91% ABV and contains very less congeners.

Rum (History, Production Process, Brands) 2


During ageing the alcohol strength is between 75 to 80 % ABV. Evaporation of alcohol during maturation in Caribbean
Island : 50 % per annum ( Bcoz of hot climate ) & Scotland : 3% Per annum
Is it matured in casks for at least 3 years, before is can be offered for sale. In early stages Rum is colourless but gradually
it extracts colour from the wood. When deeper hues (Shades) are required caramel is added. Before bottling Rums are
reduced to 40% ABV by the addition of demineralized water and filtered through layers of charcoal and sand.

Blending & Bottling

Blending is done to achieve consistency in aroma , colour and body. Blending can be done between white & dark , all
white , all dark , varieties from different countries. Eg . Captain Morgan & Lambs Navy etc
Before bottling Rums are reduced to 40% ABV by the addition of demineralized water and filtered through layers of
charcoal and sand.

Types of Rum

  • Light Rum – also called as white or silver rum. Rums are generally aged in stainless steel tanks for up to a year and filtered before bottling.
  • Dark Rum – made from caramelized sugar or molasses and aged for longer, in heavily charred barrels, giving them much stronger flavors.
  • Gold Rum – also referred as amber rum and is rich and smooth. Aged in wooden barrels usually the charred, white oak barrels that give dark color.

Rum (History, Production Process, Brands) 3

  • Puerto Rican & Cuban rums are white, dry & light-bodied. To make them, Molasses is placed in huge vats along with water, selected yeasts, and ‘slop’ (residue from the previous distillation). The mixture is allowed to ferment for up to 4 days. Once the mash is fermented, it is pumped into column stills and distilled out at 160 to 190 US proof. These rums are aged in oak barrels from 1-4 years. They are then filtered through layers of sand and vegetable charcoal, and then further aged in barrels. The more flavourful rums are distilled at lower proofs to give each brand its character, while the light rums are distilled at a high proof, to give the brand lightness and dryness. They are produced in the Spanish speaking countries such as Puerto Rico, Cuba,  Virgin Islands, Trinidad, Venezuela & Mexico;
  • Jamaican rum is characteristically rich and full-bodied. It is made from molasses, water and ‘Dunder’ – the substance that remains from a previous distillation in the bottom of the pot still & liming.  The mixture undergoes a natural fermentation process, which takes from 5-20 days in natural fermentation the natural yeast spores in the air are allowed to settle on the surface of the liquid & reproduce causing fermentation. Jamaican Rum is naturally fermented for about three weeks. The rum is then distilled twice in pot stills.  Jamaican rums are aged in oak for approximately 5-7 yrs. They are given color by the addition of caramel. Much of the rum from Jamaica is shipped to England for aging and blending in bonded warehouses on London docks. England’s damp climate is considered ideal for aging rum. Jamaican Rum is dark. It gets most of its color from added molasses, not from the cask and aged in oak casks for a minimum of five years. They are produced in the English speaking countries such as Jamaica, British Guyana, Haiti, U.S.A., & Barbados. Indian rums are also similar to this full-bodied rum
  • Demerara rums are distilled in British Guyana, South America, from molasses, which are obtained from the sugarcane, which is grown along the Demerara River. They are rich full-bodied rum-like those produced in Jamaica, but are not as pungent or flavourful as Jamaican and are darker in color. This rum is very high in alcohol content (151 proof) and is used to make a cocktail called Zombie.
  • Virgin Islands Rum is usually dry, light-bodied rum close to Puerto Rican rum
  • Martinique and Haitian rum are distilled from the concentrated juice of the sugarcane rather than from the molasses and producing medium-bodied spirit.
  • Batavia is a unique aromatic rum made from Javanese red rice. Small rice cakes are made and put into molasses to ferment naturally. The distilled rum is then aged for 3 years in Java then shipped to Holland for further aging.


Brand names

Puerto Rican 
Don Quixote
Lemon Hart
Old Monk
Ron Bacardi
Sea Pirates
Black Bull
Ron Rico
Ron Merito
Captain Morgan

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Syllabus BHM202 (T)

01 Alcoholic Beverage

  1. Introduction and definition
  2. Production of Alcohol
    1. Fermentation process
    2. Distillation process
  3. Classification with examples

02 Dispense Bar

  1. Introduction and definition
  2. Bar layout – physical layout of bar
  3. Bar stock – alcohol & non-alcoholic beverages
  4. Bar equipment

03 Wines

  1. Definition & History
  2. Classification with examples
    1. Table/Still/Natural
    2. Sparkling
    3. Fortified
    4. Aromatized
  3. Production of each classification
  4. Old World wines (Principal wine regions, wine laws, grape varieties, production and brand names)
    1. France
    2. Germany
    3. Italy
    4. Spain
    5. Portugal
  5. New World Wines (Principal wine regions, wine laws, grape varieties, production and brand names)
    1. USA
    2. Australia
    3. India
    4. Chile
    5. South Africa
    6. Algeria
    7. New Zealand
  6. Food & Wine Harmony
  7. Storage of wines
  8. Wine terminology (English & French)

04 Beer

  1. Introduction & Definition
  2. Types of Beer
  3. Production of Beer
  4. Storage

05 Spirits

  1. Introduction & Definition
  2. Production of Spirit
    1. Pot-still method
    2. Patent still method
  3. Production of
    1. Whisky
    2. Rum
    3. Gin
    4. Brandy
    5. Vodka
    6. Tequilla
  4. Different Proof Spirit
    1. American Proof
    2. British Proof (Sikes scale)
    3. Gay Lussac (OIML Scale)

06 Aperitifs

  1. Introduction and Definition
  2. Types of Aperitifs
  3. Vermouth (Definition, Types & Brand names)
  4. Bitters (Definition, Types & Brand names)

07 Liqueurs

  1. Definition & History
  2. Production of Liqueurs
  3. Broad Categories of Liqueurs (Herb, Citrus, Fruit/Egg, Bean & Kernel)
  4. Popular Liqueurs (Name, colour, predominant flavour & country of origin)