Deconstructing Bacardi 10 Year With The Birectifier

For sale: birectifier ($2100USD)

Bacardi 10 year (which I did clobber 2/3 of a bottle of before I allotted 250 ml to analyze), turned out much better than expected. It was a positive for rum oil, but different than previous experiences. In fraction 5, by nosing and then taste, rum oil is surely there, but there was only slight cloudiness instead of a slowly separating easily visible emulsion. I suspect the spirit is volumetricaly light on rum oil, but has achieved a very noble and persistent type.

So many questions get raised. Is this the limits of a continuous still’s ability to make a fine product? Or is it also hindered by fermentative imagination?

I do not know if I would buy another bottle, and I would certainly not become a devotee of their process, but I acknowledge that they achieved something that cannot be scoffed at. Could they have achieved more given their vast resources? Sadly, that is what also comes immediately to mind. The product has poor storytelling and nothing makes me want to root for them.

This is a fine product, but with multiple asterisks. Until they fill in the story, attach a deeply involved public intellectual and show a quest to push the limits of their process, grapple with madness, nearly slip and fall and clearly remember their stumbles, etc., it is not too interesting. Without any drama, the product is a boring lob and attention quickly drifts elsewhere.

A new RTD style thermocouple and heating controller (that will eventually be used for the automation kit) made its debut. Early in the day, I machined an adapter for the thermocouple.

Fraction 4 on the left and fraction 5 on the right displaying a very slight cloudiness.

For some reason, analyzing Bacardi 10 is making me think I should spend the time and take a look at Appleton.

Fraction 1: Everything is where it should be and there is only a slight amount of solventy non-culinary aromas.

Fraction 2: As expected, a less concentrated version of fraction 1.

Fraction 3: Fairly neutral. I almost detect a light amount of fusel oil, but I’m not quite sure.

Fraction 4: Definitely contains fusel oil, but it feels fairly light.

Fraction 5: Visually nearly clear and showing no notable louching or emulsion of rum oil. Does however exhibit definite aroma of rum oil. The category of the rare aroma, I’d say is animalic and quite noble. Concentration and quantity are not great, but there is an undeniable persistence.

Was this character faint at distilling and only accumulated after years of the angels share? Should we be happy with this because it is undeniably there or should we expect more? Do they know it is there? Has anyone experienced it organoleptically like this or do they just know it is there numerically from a print out? Do they know how they compare to competitors?

Fraction 6: Has some aromas that you would think belonged in fraction 5 (that is a compliment!). There are faint traces of animalic funk, possibly still due to rum oil.

Fraction 7: Slightly richer than expected. Hard to describe what I’m calling richness. Almost a creaminess.

Fraction 8: Very light stale kind of barrely aromas, no perceivable acidity. Nothing that seems like it shouldn’t be there.

3 thoughts on “Deconstructing Bacardi 10 Year With The Birectifier

  1. I’m still not sure I really understand what you mean by rum oil, although I do see it described it as higher boiling point esters and alcohols above 130C. What does it smell like, what does it taste like, and why is it so elusive, I don’t really understand, but I do think that I taste it when I find a product with a certain je ne sais quoi.

    I would not have guessed there to be much in the Bacardi, if any at all. I know it’s a product everyone who loves rum loves to hate, but it really does taste like poorly crafted vodka. There is a “rumminess” to it though that you can’t deny.

    Certainly their process completely precludes any sort of intentional infection, muck, dunder, anything beyond absolute industrially automated process distillation using pure cultures. It would be a very fast fermentation as well.

    And yet here it is, the rum oil.

    My assumption, correct or not, is that Bacardi is using a pure culture of yeast to achieve an incredibly reproducible result. It is not purely a column still product though, as they also have a pot still product that they blend in. Perhaps the rum oil comes over from their pot distillation process.

    You can piece together a lot of information about Bacardi based on all of the videos and documentaries that have ever been produced on them. But the one thing they won’t talk about it so yeast culture except to say that its proprietary and treasured by them.

    But if you are finding a rum oil in their product, then it’s safe to say that the yeast itself can be relied upon as the sole producer of this without getting too crazy about the process. Challenge then is finding the yeast.

  2. Rum oil is the most high value congener in rum. Arroyo describes its importance here: https://www.bostonapothecary.com/the-birectifier-in-rum-manufacture-1945/ He also describes it in the other works. What we call rum oil are exotic terpenes and they likely come from two channels of precursors, those being glycocides and carotenoids.

    If present, the birectifier isolates them in fraction 5. In that fraction they can be a little bit hard to differentiate from esters and to isolate them you may have to add sulfuric acid to destroy the esters and look for a persistent aroma.

    The rum oil aroma can have remarkable persistance. And it can still be detected after very significant dilution. It can have different qualities and to me, the most noble is when its musky and pheromonal. Bacardi 8 and 10 are so night and day from regular Bacardi. They are likely a pet project that is the summation of all their knowledge. The price is also probably subsidized by regular Bacardi.

    Bacardi is pretty much based on processes that Arroyo first developed. After Arroyo came the Rum Pilot Plant but it focused primarily on waste disposal, energy efficiency, and pretty much being a good environmental citizen. Pretty much all the biggest distilleries are really good environmental citizens. It is at the heart of distilling culture around the world even if their products taste lame.

    They could easily use a special strain for their heavier rum. With automation they can even splice that ferment briefly into the stream of their continuous stills, shift variables on the fly to maximize distillate potential, then shift back to business as usual. It would be great to pressure Bacardi to do more full flavored stuff.

    Cheers! -Stephen

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