Oh, delicious rum, how we love you. You take the best of people and turn them into pirates and for that, we thank you. We also thank you for being a substance we can make at home. This fact saves us time, money and liquid courage in the long run.
But, how do you even make rum at home? Is it safe? What do you need to make rum at home? Can you do this alone or do you need the help of trusty friends and/or roommates? Is the rum I can make at home better than store bought Captain Morgan?
In order to properly make rum at home, you will need time, patience and approximately four to six weeks' time. Here, we will break down everything you need to know about how to make rum from the tools you will need to the proper way to dilute your finished product to make it something you can actually drink.
What About Rum?
Rum has been around since the 17th century. It originated in the 17th century in the Caribbean by way of sugar farmers who had a serious industrial waste problem on their hands. These farmers produced sugar by crushing the sugar cane, boiling the leftover juices, and then leaving the boiled syrup to cure in clay pots.
We know the liquid leftover as molasses. In the 17th century, there was no common use for the liquid sugary goo. Slaves and livestock ended up eating the molasses but primarily this liquid goo was a waste that no one knew what to do with.
Someone then discovered that you could mix the liquid during its initial boiling and fermenting stage that you could create a serviceable starting point to begin the distillation of rum. To whoever discovered this, we thank you!
If we fast-forward to today and the current state of rum, we know that molasses is no longer an unwanted good and rum sales in the United States alone are upwards of over two billion in a standard year. It is nice to know where it came from though, and we are thankful for that liquid sugar goo that is now the yummy liquid we call rum.
How To Make Rum
Rum is definitely a tricky thing to concoct on your own, but we are here to tell you that it is indeed possible. First, you will need five ingredients to compose your own rum at home.
These five ingredients are:
- 2.5 kg (5.5 lbs.) molasses
- 2.5 kg (5.5 lbs.) processed sugar
- 20 L (5.2 gal) distilled water
- Additional distilled water to dilute your finished product
- 42.5 g. (1.5 oz.) hydrated yeast
The first big step of making rum is to make the mash. Start your homemade rum by placing 20 L of distilled water in a clean boiler. The key to this step is ensuring that your boiler is absolutely clean. Clean and submerge any tools and utensils you plan on using during your rum making process in boiling water to ensure that everything is completely sterile and as clean as it can be.
Dissolve the sugar and molasses in your 20 L of water over medium heat. The sugar will dissolve pretty easily, but the molasses is thicker and therefore, will take longer to dissolve. To ensure the molasses is correctly dissolved, get the water as hot as you can without it boiling and keep stirring until dissolved.
Cool your solution you have made to 28 degrees Celsius or 82 degrees Fahrenheit and then add your hydrated yeast. A pro tip to correctly do this is to take out a liter of the mash in a jug first to dissolve the yeast in the smaller jug. When the mixture begins to foam, you can then add the rest of the yeast to complete the wort.
The next major step in how to make rum is the fermentation process. Allow the solution to ferment at 25 degrees Celsius or 77 degrees Fahrenheit. Do this until the airlock on your pot stops bubbling.
The airlock on your special pot will ensure that only carbon dioxide can leave the pot and that oxygen cannot get in. The yeast must have heat in order to convert your sugars into precious alcohol. Store the wash in a warm place or keep the room heated to ensure this fermentation process works.
It should be in between 24 and 48 hours for the airlock to discontinue bubbling. We recommend buying an airlock to ensure your entire process works correctly and produces the best-finished product. This is very important and can make or break your rum, so buy yourself a darn airlock.
Once your airlock is done bubbling, allow your mash to sit for three to seven days. Use a hydrometer to test when your mash is ready by allowing the hydrometer to measure the ratio of the density between the liquid to the density of water.
Measure the mash daily to know when your mash is ready. In order to measure this correctly, take a small amount of mash out of the container and put it into a graduated cylinder. Float the hydrometer into the cylinder and gently swirl to release any extra bubbles and air inside of the cylinder.
When your daily reading is the same over three days, you will know your wash is ready for the next process: distillation. Be sure to knock your yeast down by lowering the temperature and moving your mash to a cool spot, ideally anywhere between 10 to 14 degrees Celsius 50 and 57 degrees Fahrenheit.
Time to Distill
First in distilling your rum is placing a collection vessel under the distillate valve to catch your final alcohol product. A key to ensuring this step is followed properly is to make sure that all connections are tightly sealed and fit completely as they should.
Connect your water source to your coolant input in order to cool the alcohol vapor. As the alcohol substance cools in temperature, it condenses into liquid ethanol. This liquid ethanol will drip into your collection vessel, hence, the collection vessel.
Next, you will siphon your ethanol solution into your still. This step is very important, as you must avoid siphoning the bottom of your mash where the yeast is collected. A siphon properly works by placing the shorter leg into the container above the longer leg that is placed into the lower one below.
This allows the liquid to siphon into the shorter leg and into the longer leg by atmospheric pressure. Next, you will bring the solution to a boil slowly and begin running cold water once the solution reaches a temperature between 50 and 60 degrees Celsius or 122 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
The distillation will begin when clear drops of liquid start to leave the spout and enter the collection vessel. The key to distillation is to discard the first 100mL of liquid (3.38 fluid oz.). This is referred to as “the head” and is removed for safety precautions because it contains deathly methanol.
Next up, collect the following distilled liquid of 2-3L. Once the temperature reaches 96 degrees Celsius or 204.8 degrees Fahrenheit, stop collecting. First, turn off the heat source and then turn off the cold water. Open the collection vessel’s lid to avoid creating a vacuum inside the still.
Finish Your Rum
If you really want to be extra when it comes to making your homemade rum, age the product in oak or toasted oak barrels.
If you do not have access to the luxurious world of aged barrels, do not fret. You can use toasted oak chips or something similar to produce a similar taste.
Filter your rum through a handy cheesecloth or strainer to remove any wood chips from your finished rum product. For the best tasting homemade rum, you will use distilled water to dilute your alcohol to enjoyable levels.
Aim for a percentage of alcohol around 45%, which is common in drinkable alcohols. Some people love to get extra crafty and add cinnamon, ginger or cloves to their rum and soaking them for one to two weeks to add an extra flavor boost.
Start the Party!
The final step of how to make rum includes having your friends over for a rum drinking party. Make sure to taste your rum first to make sure the flavor and taste are at par with your drinking habits. Then invite the friends over for a pirate party and enjoy the heck out of your homemade rum!