in Finnish

Rum production

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There are two traditional ways to produce rum. According to the French tradition, rum is made from the liquid squeezed of sugar cane, whereas according to the earlier tradition it is made from the molasses left over in the production of sugar. The French have categorised the different types of rums resulting from these two traditions Rhum Agricole (cane juice) and Rhum Industriel (molasses).

In the French Caribbean area, rum is usually distilled to a relatively low distillation purity, which causes the rum to taste stronger than the rum distilled from molasses. As molasses include a relatively high quantity of sulphur, the distillate has to be very pure to make sure that all the impurities are removed from it.

The image shows the kind of pot in which during the 19th century syrup and molasses were separated from each other.


After the distillation, rum tastes pungent and raw and, even though some enjoy drinking rum like that, usually the rum is aged separately in wooden casks, during which its taste becomes softer and subtler. Nowadays, rum is mostly aged in oak barrels. Aging can usually take from one to thirty years or even longer. During the aging period, rum first becomes golden and later dark brown in colour, as it reacts with the tannines in the oak barrels.

In the Caribbean islands, the aging of rum differs notably from the aging of some other beverages in Europe for one basic reason: The Caribbean climate is warmer and more humid and, the aging process is thus faster than, for example, with malt whiskeys in cooler Scotland. The aging periods of rum can usually be multiplied by two, or even three, if one wants to compare them with, for instance, the ages of malt whiskeys. The effect of the climate is also manifested in the fact that the so-called "angelís share" (i.e. the loss due to evaporation rate) is three times as high in the Caribbean as in Europe.

Blending and bottling

Although some rums are bottled right after distillation, most of them are aged and blended before bottling. White rums are often aged for six months at most, after which it is filtered through, for example, activated charcoal to remove the possible colour caused by the time it spent in the aging barrels. Dark rums, on the other hand, age aged far longer and get to retain their colour. Most distilleries use burned sugar to make sure that the exact colour of their product is consistent from batch to batch, but there are exceptions. After bottling, the rum will not experience any changes and the benefits of aging have thus been captured in the bottle. The rum does not continue aging in the bottle either, and thus storing the bottles for long times has no other benefit than keeping the rum around for the day it is to be enjoyed.

Alcohol content

The alcohol content of rum mainly depends on the consumersí wishes. Some rums are bottled at the diluted level of 40% alcohol by volume, whereas others are bottled at about the strength at which they were originally distilled or aged (over-proof rums).

More information on the subject in the next section, Rum production areas.