Coconut Research Institute

Papers digitized by the Coconut Research Institute of Sri Lanka are really impressing me. For some reason that part of the world is better at digitizing their agricultural literature than the west. Anyone remember my round up of recent vermouth literature? Most of the papers came from India.

If you really think about it, the hundreds of new spirits producers in this country are getting ripped off these days. This isn’t from the perspective of taxes or investment money, its from the perspective of government funded helpful and pragmatic research directed at their industry (that we used to have, the IRS of all people being the most important). If we aren’t going to do new research, we might as well digitize the old stuff as a service to all these new job creators. It would be cool if the Library of Congress took an interest. In the mean time, you’ve got me.

The Manufacture and Characteristics of Ceylon Arrack—I
The history in here is wildly interesting with spectacular photographs of the tree tappers which give a better understanding of how it all goes down. I love at the end how they use “staybrite” brand scouring pads to filter the coconut sap.

The Commercial Possibilities of Manufacturing High Grade Vinegar from Coconut Toddy
Lately I’ve been collecting vinegar research papers to help a start up producer in Maine that hopes to do some amazing stuff with cider vinegar. This paper isn’t too in depth, but does give a nice overview of the generator method which often a new concept to startup producers.

Microbiology of Coconut Sap Fermentation
This is a really wonderful accessible paper. I’m hoping to start to do very similar projects with a rum I am trying to develop which uses a novel indigenous yeast fermentation technique.

Toddy Effluent from Distilleries
A great easy to understand look at effluent that shows how environmentally conscious they were early on. This pertains to arrack but should be insightful to any spirit producer. The conclusion section is well worth checking out.

The Manufacture of Coconut Toddy Vinegar by the “Generator” Process

The History of Vinegar Production and the Use of Coconut Toddy as a Raw Material: Part I Historical Introduction
Interesting but a bit tedious. What is wild is that the case wasn’t completely crack until into the 20th century.

The History of Vinegar Production and the Use of Coconut Toddy as a Raw Material: Part II

This Pure Products article from 1917 on coconut sap starting on page 285 is wildly interesting. It is a great survey from scientists visiting the area.

The Prior Patents of Rafael Arroyo

So who was this guy, Rafael Arroyo, and why did he win the contract to advance Puerto Rican rum? Could anyone else have done as good a job? Was this guy some sort of genius or coincidentally just a native with the right scientific skill set? (my bet is staggering genius.)

In tracking down his lost papers I found another patent of his. Arroyo is known to most contemporary rum enthusiasts through his patent on producing heavy bodied rums which was digitized by google and thus accessible.

We can get a glimpse of Arroyo’s credentials through his other patents which are all for advanced industrial fermentations proving he entered rum work with a formidable skill set. By the 1940’s when Arroyo was working on rum he must have been well into his career and had some pretty heavy industrial experience under his belt.

Arroyo also appears to be from Puerto Rico which isn’t the biggest surprise, though it is surprising that PR industry was doing boundary pushing work in bio technology in the 1930’s.

Hopefully soon I can dig up an obituary so we can learn more about the guy.

[Added 1/17/15 courtesy awesome reader Rex Clingan]

From the American Chemical Society 1949:
Rafael Arroyo, 57, Puerto Rican industrial research chemist, died suddenly Aug. 16 in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico. He had been for many years head of the chemistry department of the Agricultural Experiment Station at Rio Piedras, and specialized in the industrial utilization of sugar cane molasses and its by-products. He originated the “Proceso Arroyo” under which the production of rum spirits by a special treatment of the molasses used in the fermentation stage was increased. He graduated in 1916 from Louisiana State University, where he had majored in sugar engineering. In the U. S. he had worked for Armour and Co., Staier Chemical Co., and the U. S. Industrial Alcohol Co. He joined ACS in 1946.

Fermentation Agent 1938

Art of producing butanol and acetone by fermentation of molasses 1938

Culture for butyric acid fermentation 1939

Fermentation process for producing butyric acid 1939

Light reading on Ar(r)ack anyone?

Science Education Series
No. 16
Industries based on alcoholic fermentation in Sri Lanka
by Upali Samarajeewa

I cannot say enough good things about this text (linked above) and it fills in a big chunk of spirits knowledge which is palm sap derived spirits like Arrack. Keep in mind that this is Sri Lanka, the large island off the southern tip of India and not Batavia or Java which come from quite a ways east.

Casual readers will enjoy the mention of products on the market in 1986 and salivate at the prospect of drinking a VSOA (very special old arrack). We learn that one of the reasons the spirits were not exported is that they weren’t even able to produce enough for local markets and that is why some of their araks had to be blended with molasses based rums. Gilbey’s made something called “Captain Cheers”?

Owners of coconut palms in other countries like Jamaica with former very small traditions of making palm sap derived spirits will enjoy the details on cultivation and fermentation. How soon until we see products hit the market from less famous regions? This document will speed that up! I’m available to consult!

Beverage technologists will admire the bibliography and rare bits of information. Educators will admire the organizational skill of the author. The bulletin is designed to be an applied look at science directed at local interests. Lucky for us, the locals are interested in alcoholic spirits!

The PDF is missing at least one page and sadly the bibliography is not intact, but I was able to track down one of the more important papers referenced: Distillation, Maturation and Blending of Arrack by T.D. Ekmon of the State Distilleries Corporation, Seeduwa (1983). It isn’t exactly monumental and the best parts made Samarajeewa’s larger document.

(If the link breaks, I can send the documents to whoever needs it.)

Rafael Arroyo’s Lost Papers on Rum

Sponsor my distilling work simply by sharing the artisan workshop of the Bostonapothecary on social media. Copy, Paste, Share, Support!

[I’ve made a great PDF of a Arroyo’s 1945 Studies on Rum and I’m pleased to say the text has even surpassed my expectations. I’m going to finishing reading it and playing with it then I’ll eventually release it. I need to de-warp some of the page scannings and reduce the size of the PDF because it currently rings in at 60MBs.]

To my knowledge there are no accessible digitized copies of Rafael Arroyo’s 1945 Studies on Rum. You’d probably have to wait a few years to find a print copy for sale and I suspect a big reason is because the book was printed so cheaply it is physically falling apart.

But what is this all about? Through a grant from the U.S. government Arroyo set out to do detailed studies of rum production and he created new techniques in fermentation that revolutionized how rum was made. Even in Jamaica, which is known for dunder pits and muck holes, the leading producer, Appleton, likely favors the Arroyo method. I’m sure if you’re here, you already know a little about Arroyo.

Not much happened with Arroyo’s work until decades later because of the timing of WWII (this was explained in Rum: Yesterday and Today), but everything was given an update with Puerto Rico’s Rum Pilot Plant and those agricultural bulletins are mostly lost as well. The RPP works are a series of twenty something bulletins and are in both English and Spanish because of how they were funded by the U.S. government. These documents transformed how rum is made around the world and were supposed to be shared and accessible, but somehow they’ve become elusive and even the most serious PhD spirits researchers do not cite them in bibliographies.

I have collected probably all of Arroyo’s citations from the journals they were originally appearing in mostly courtesy the bibliography of the late John E. Murtaugh who was one of the great distillation educators as well as a significant contributing author to the Alcohol Text book. [I should also note that German globe trotting sugar technologist, Hubert Von Olbrich, also lists most of Arroyo’s original citations in his Geschichte der Melasse, 1970. He only misses a few.]

Next I will tackle the Rum Pilot Plant bulletins and I have strong leads to their locations. I actually have the entire annotated bibliography of all articles related to the Rum Pilot Plant, but it is a pretty big under taking to collect and beyond the scope of most people’s interests.

[I’m trying to request these first three from the Experiment Station reports and not from Facts about Sugar which I am afraid is just a review and not the full article. Problem so far is’s version of the Experiment Station reports don’t have any mention of Arroyo. Not sure if they are the same reports or a different one. I suspect these are important, not so much to learn production techniques, but to gain historical context because they are his first articles on rum.]

Arroyo R. , Manzano M. Jamaica Type Rum in Puerto Rico. University of Puerto Rico, Agr. Expt. Station Report for 1937-38, p. 26-27; rev. : Facts about Sugar 35 (1940) , no. 4, p . 38.

Arroyo R., Marrero F., Haravidez L. Rum Types and the creation of new rum types from cane juice. Report University of Puerto Rico Agricultural Experiment Station, 1939, p. 43-44, rev. : Facts about Sugar 35 (1940) , no. 11 , p. 37.

Arroyo R. The Aroma of Rum : The influence of pre-treating the raw material. Revista agricultura industria commercio; Puerto Rico 32 (1940),
no. 2, p. 284-286; rev. : Facts about Sugar 35 (1940), no. 11 , p . 37.

Arroyo R. 1940. The Problem of the Ripening of Crude Rum. Revista de Agricultura del Puerto Rico, volume 32, pages 588-591. [my translation]

Arroyo, R. 1941. The manufacture of rum Part I. Sugar

Arroyo, R. 1942. The manufacture of rum Part II. Sugar

Arroyo, R. 1942. The manufacture of rum Part III. Sugar

Arroyo R. 1942 The manufacture of rum Part IV. Sugar

Arroyo R. 1942 The manufacture of rum Part V. Sugar

Arroyo, R. 1942. US Patent 2,295,150. Ethanol Fermentation of Black Strap Molasses.

Arroyo R. Dilution Problem in Rum Manufacture, Sugar 38 (1943), no. 7,
p. 25, 26.

[I haven’t requested this because he covers it so well in the 1945 text.]

Arroyo R. Genuine and spurious Rums, Sugar 38 (1943), no. 8, p. 25 , 27.

Arroyo, R. 1945. US Patent 2,386,924. Production of heavy rums.

Arroyo, R. 1945. The production of heavy bodied rum. International Sugar Journal 40(11):34-39.

Arroyo, R. 1945. Studies on rum. Research Bulletin
No. 5 (University of Puerto Rico, Agricultural Experiment Station, Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico), December. [I have this but have not shared it!]

Arroyo, R. 1947. The economics of rum production. International Sugar Journal 49:292-294, 325-327. [part I, part II]

Arroyo, R. 1948a. The production of straight light rums from blackstrap. International Sugar Journal 50:150-152.

Arroyo, R. 1948b. The flavour of rum – recent chromatographic research. International Sugar Journal 50:210.

Arroyo, R. 1948c. Simultaneous production of light and heavy rum. International Sugar Journal 50:289-291.

Arroyo, R. 1949a. The Arroyo fermentation process for alcohol and light rum from molasses. Sugar Journal 11(8):5-12.

Arroyo, R. 1949b. A new rum distillation process. Sugar 44 (7):34-36.

Arroyo, R. 1949c. Rum distillery yields and efficiencies factors affecting them. International Sugar Journal 51:163-169, 189-191.

Arroyo, R. 1950. Advanced features in rum fermentation. International Sugar Journal 52:42-44.

Arroyo died in 1949 so a few of these would have published posthumously.

Additional articles of interest:

L’Anson P. 1976. Diversification in the distilleries. Wine and Spirit. 106: 38-39, 42-43, 45.

Kampen, W.H. 1975. Technology of the rum industry. Sugar y Azucar. 36-43

Kampen, W.H. 1975. Technology of the rum industry.
Sugar & Azucar 70(8):36-43. [I can’t remember were I took these two different citations from, but who knows if they are the same article?]

Aguiar, J.L., Rodriguez-Benitez, V., and Garcia Morin, M., 1968, Study of the Use and Reuse of Activated Charcoal in Rum Processing, J. Agr. Univ. P.R. 52(1).