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Everything you need to know about rum!

News – 1 May 2021

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Here at Team Hawksbill, we’re of course BIG rum lovers but we get that as much as people may enjoy rum, they might not know all of the interesting things about this amazing spirit. So, let us fill you in on some facts and nuggets of information that we think you NEED to know…

How is rum made?

Well, rum is a liquor distilled from sugarcane by-products - typically sugarcane juice, sugar cane syrup, or molasses. More recently, modern rum is usually made using one of three methods:

  • Directly fermenting sugar cane juice

  • Creating a concentrated syrup from sugar cane juice and fermenting the result

  • Processing the juice into molasses and fermenting that

It’s actually the climate and the soil where the sugarcane is grown that impacts the final taste of the rum. So, if you were to taste rum produced from molasses from Guyana (like our Hawksbill Spiced Rum!) and a rum made from Dominican molasse, they would taste slightly different even though they’re distilled using the same method. Most rum distillers do choose to use molasses to make their rum.

When it comes to fermentation, distilleries have a choice between a couple of options – natural or using pre-determined strains of yeast. If they decide to go au-natural, the sugar product will sit in open vats allowing the natural yeasts in the air to do their thing and turn sugar into alcohol. The second option just allows distilleries to have more control over the whole fermentation process. Once the fermentation is all done, it needs to go through distillation which means separating the alcohols from the fermented liquid.

Distillation happens in stills. If you’re not sure what a still is, they’re usually copper or steel pots and in there the liquid goes though either once or twice to finalise the taste of the rum!

It’s not over just yet though! Some distillers choose to move onto aging next. This is where an unaged product is put into barrels for a length of time to enhance the flavour – sometimes for week, sometimes for 20-30 years. For our Caribbean Spiced Rum we use a blend of a 1 year and a 3-year-old rum which we then charge with our own distinctive combination of spices which you’ll find more about in a sec.

The process of rum all varies a little bit and as you can imagine, that’ll have an impact on the final product. So, if you take into consideration the numerous different methods and ways to make this favourite spirit of ours, you’re left with the following categories of rum:

White Rum

These are the rums which are the lightest in colour, or the clearest, and are typically agreed for 3-6 months. That’s if they’re in a tropical climate, but in a colder climate you’re looking at about 12 months. They’re also distilled in stainless steel casks, so they offer a relatively simply rum experience.

Gold & Aged Rum

These two look similar but they’re very different! Aged rums are golden or amber in colour (which is usually natural) but your gold rums often gleam (no guessing where it got its name from!) because of the additives in the rum. When it comes to taste, aged rums have a bit more depth and gold rums create a nice smooth drink.

Dark Rum

These guys are usually made from caramelized sugar or molasses. They’re also aged for quite a long time in heavily charred barrels which gives them a strong flavour and a deep brown / black / red colour. You’ll find that most dark rums come from Jamaica, Bahamas, Haiti, and Martinique.

Spiced / Flavoured Rum

Our favourite kind! Spiced rums are made from molasses or sugarcane syrup. There’s usually a flavour added like vanilla and a whole host of spices which amplifies the sweetness or adds a touch of heat! You’ll also find some pretty unique flavoured rums on the market these days with producers getting creative with things like banana, pineapple or even coffee! With Hawksbill Spiced Rum, we wanted to keep it simple and create a great tasting classic spiced rum which really lends itself for mixing. We’ve tried to keep the flavour of the molasses from the aged rum and have then blended it with spices including vanilla, raisin, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and sea salt. The result is delicious! You might notice our abv is 38.8% which might seem a little unusual…Well this strength was actually the sweet spot which allowed the amazing molasses base to shine through and not be overpowered by our combination of spices.

Rhum Agricole

These types of rums are made from sugar cane juice and is only produced in the French Caribbean. Rhum production needs to follow some pretty strict guidelines to fit within its category so it’s a very specific taste. The sweetness from the sugar cane is quite strong but rhum brings in a pleasant grassiness flavour.

Overproof Rum

Are you feeling hot, hot, hot? Commonly used for drinks that require a flambé or floater, overproof rum can be anywhere from 50 to 75.5% ABV, depending on the country’s regulations!

So there you have it! The lowdown on rum and some facts to impress your mates with when you're next sipping a rum and coke. If you've not managed to try Hawksbill Spiced Rum yet then we'd recommend giving us a try ;) You can grab a free delivery code when you sign up to our mailing list too.

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