The Art of Rum

The qualities that set Demerara Rums apart are the result of the particular processes and conditions under which they are produced.

From green cane field to black molasses

Sugar cane, from which molasses is derived, is cultivated mostly in the rich, fertile aluvial coastal plains of the county of Demerara, along the banks of the Demerara River. Harvesting takes place twice a year, after the fields are cleansed by fire, when the cane cutters move in with their machetes. The harvested cane is transported to the sugar factory by barge along the many canals, so characteristic of Demerara county. There it is quickly chopped and crushed to extract the juice.

Molasses is produced by the boiling of this juice, which separates crystallized sugar from this dark treacly by-product. This molasses is delivered from the sugar factory to the distillery where it is pumped into three giant storage tanks. It is the unique quality of this locally produced molasses, the basis of Demerara Distillers’ rum production, which contributes so much to the distinctive Demerara taste.

Fermentation - converting sweetness to alcohol

The first stage of rum production begins with the fermentation process which can last up to 26 hours. This entails the addition to the molasses of yeasts, specially cultured under controlled conditions of temperature and Brix (sugar content). As a result, uncrystallised sugars are converted into alcohols to produce a ‘wash’ which is constantly monitored and maintained within specified parameters that allow unique flavours to develop. The resulting fermented wash containing around 7% alc.vol. is ready for distillation.

Distillation - the best of the traditional and the modern

Demerara Distillers’ operation boasts a large number of 2 types of still - comprising 6 Continuous Stills, one of which is the last remaining Wooden Coffey Still, and 2 original Wooden Pot Stills, the last of their kind still in operation.

Continuous Column Stills use a method in which fermented molasses (wash) is added to the top of the column, while steam is injected at the bottom. This process of adding the steam and the wash simultaneously allows the alcohol vapours to rise to the top of the column into the condensers where they are condensed to form liquid rum. Each Continuous Still has the versatility to produce both heavy or light bodied rums depending on the addition of varying degrees of congeners. Using their Savalle Stills, Demerara Distillers are in fact capable of producing more than 9 distinctly different styles (marques) of rum – a feat which no other distillery can boast. Differing in nose, character and volume, these rums include those which recreate those originally produced on the major sugar estates of the 18th century. These marques can then be blended to produce an unrivalled range of rums.

The Single and Double Wooden Pot or VAT Stills are used to produce the very aromatic, flavourful heavy-bodied rums – with additional flavours contributed through contact with the wood of the still. The production of these rums, unlike that of the continuous still rums, is done in batches. A quantity of fermented wash is put into the pot and boiled. The vapours released are trapped in the condensers to produce high gravity rum. After all of the wash has been distilled, the pot is emptied and the process is repeated.