Birectifier Analysis of Demian Argentinian Rum

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An interesting rum from Argentina crossed my desk from Max Demian Pelegrí, a rural horse vetrinarian with an amazing looking distillery (IG: @destileriademian). Rum is actually just a small portion of what Demian distills and he has been producing single malts for over a decade, sometimes even making the malt (500 liters of whiskey, 50 liters of rum per annum). Demian was attracted to Arroyo’s process and this rum is an exploration of a high pH process using a budding yeast.

This is a molasses rum fermented at pH higher than 6.0. An amount of 3.5 g/L of calcium carbonate is use to raise the pH instead of lime. 5.0 g/L of yeast is pitched (yeast strain AB MAURI which is a baker’s strain) and alcoholic fermentation lasts between 3 to 5 days. DAP is the yeast nutrient. Distillation is an all copper pot still with Scottish geometry. Demian sometimes uses both fresh dunder and ripened dunder, aged more than a year, that is seeded with bacteria from banana and potato peels. Maturation is in American oak ex whiskey barrels. The rum is diluted using an Arroyo idea where tail waters, collected from 20% to 0%, are employed (after collecting traditional tails).

Demain was curious about this rum’s intense “medicinal” quality and submitted it for analysis. This particular rum saw time in a 25L barrel (“Ron Pesado”) that may have held an even more intense rum that was fermented using dunder instead of water as well as ripened dunder that already had the “medicinal” aroma. Noticing this aroma in the ripe dunder is interesting and Demian may have been successful introducing aroma beneficial bacteria to his distillery.

My theory is that the medicinal aroma in question may be the lesser rum oil (not damascenone) which may likely be carotene derived TDN/TNN such as has been found in Australian rums. This character is definitely desirable in the right quantities, but it can go overboard similar to too much TDN in German reisling wines. Arroyo reported a different rum oil produced by budding yeasts as opposed to fission yeasts and this may be a version of that. However, some of this aroma may also be produced by particular LAB.

Overall, the rum may best compare to the legendary Batavia Arrack from Indonesia; that means not exactly estery, but characterized by remarkable, above average, persistence. This can be fantastic in cocktails & punches where those aromas can interact with fruitiness brought to them from other ingredients.

My first test of this rum was the white bubble test where a spirit bubble was used to easily reduce the 58.77% sample down to 30% so I could experience it fully open.

Demian Argentina—No obvious fruitiness. Barrel aroma becomes elevated by dilution. Rum oil related aroma such as TDN/TNN, not damascenone? Limited affinities due to oak. Congruent with R.L. Seale 10? May add nuance & persistence to a blend.

Part of my concern in these notes are affinities for other rums because I have been doing a lot of blending. I later used Demian in an exciting blend:

Blend mL/100 mL ABV ABV Unit Bottle Size mL Bottle Cost Cost / mL Cost / Ounce Cost 1000 ml Blend
Cost 750 ml Blend
Demian Argentina 10 58.77% 5.877 750 $50.00*** $0.07 $1.97 $6.67 $5.00
Clairin Rocher 10 49.50% 4.95 750 $38.99 $0.05 $1.54 $5.20 $3.90
Batavia Arrack 10 50.00% 5 750 $34.00 $0.05 $1.34 $4.53 $3.40
R.L. Seale 10 70 43.00% 30.1 750 $33.00 $0.04 $1.30 $30.80 $23.10
Sum 100 45.927 <<-AVE ABV $47.20 $35.40

***Just an estimate.

This was quickly followed by the exhaustive test of systematic dilution where Demian posted extremely strong numbers even when scaled for ABV. Note the comparisons to both Batavia Arrack and Smith & Cross.

Batavia Arrack $34.99 750 ml 50.00% 1:250
Alleyne Arthur Barbados $12.99 750 ml 43.00% 1:100
João Monteiro Grogue $24.99 750 ml 40.00% 1:100
Castillo Silver $10.99 1000 ml 40.00% 1:75
Demian ??? 750 ml 58.77% 1:300
Smith & Cross $32.99 750 ml 57.00% 1:200

[Demian was extremely patient with this post when I suggested that I take a few days and make all the nosing glasses myself. These are all made from borosilicate on a glass lathe.]

These classic spirit appraisal techniques were all followed up by fractioning with the birectifier and then organoleptic appraisal of the fractions. Every fraction was extremely light except of course for fraction 5 where we could estimate 90%+ of the effective aroma resided. We could also say that this rum had below average fusel oil for a budding yeast, no doubt from a slower, cooler fermentation. The last fractions (6,7,8) appeared free of any flaws and upon sitting for 24 hours, residual persistent aroma became more evident.

Of course we can drink this rum neat, but when thinking of blends and our Nippy principles of nuance, intensity, persistence, and intrigue, we have learned that this rum’s biggest strength is persistence. We may say it also adds nuance because no doubt it brings unique congeners to the tables other rums lack.

Where should these ferments go next? One thought was to try a back-to-back fermentation where a high pH ferment is followed up by a high acid ferment that re-uses both the bottoms and the dunder. This ferment would would only aim for a potential alcohol of 5% to maximize souring at the end. Molasses also has limitations. Back in Rational Bourbon Production —> Heavy Rum, I made the analogy that molasses is like corn and rum needs its equivalent of small grains. Diversifying the substrate may benefit the aroma, but that is extremely challenging when you are not in a cane growing region.

Demian is an exciting distillery and hopefully we get to taste more of it.

Fraction 1: Very light. Not exactly fruity. Presence of ethyl acetate, but no significant concentration.

Fraction 2: Even lighter than fraction 1 as expected.

Fraction 3: Fairly neutral but a little different seeming than the usual. Possible hint of fusel oil. Mellow, nothing inharmonious.

Fraction 4: Presence of fusel oil, but nothing sharp and inharmonious. Probably very minimal for a budding yeast.

[Notice the louche in the glass on the left; fraction 5.]

Fraction 5: 90%+ of this rum’s aroma must be here. Slightly louched, but no significant emulsion. Not the typical dispersed floating droplets but a floating precipitate. Estery, but not bright. Feeling of persistence beyond the floral esteryness. It even changes as you put you nose in the nosing glass. Acrid on the palate. You get the feeling that there is unique character making an impact more so than concentration of the congeners. Begs to spend time evaporating under a watch glass cover. After a few days of evaporation esters blew off, but nothing specific like damascenone came into focus. There is still plenty of aroma that could last many more days.

Fraction 6: Resembles fraction 7 but with slight menthe-like character bleeding over from fraction 5. After a few days, the persistent character was more detectable.

Fraction 7: No detectable gustatory acidity.

Fraction 8: Aroma from lees or oak? No detectable gustatory acidity. Zero off character.

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