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I did not initially think there would be anything good to reference in H.W. Wiley’s 1919 text, Beverages and their adulteration, origin, composition, manufacture, natural, artificial, fermented, distilled, alkaloidal and fruit juices, but it proved really interesting. Wiley was a Bureau chemist who at one time employed Harris Eastman Sawyer who I have alleged was the architect of the modern New England rum style. Sawyer unfortunately died in 1911 so he probably only worked for Felton & Son’s of South Boston for ten years.
When considering Wiley’s explanation of rum, consider his bibliography when he gets to his present day. He and Sawyer were more in the scene of American analytical chemists as opposed to the scene of far flung international sugar chemists. Wiley also had the benefit, no doubt, of hearing all about rum from his time with Sawyer.
H.H. Cousins, Jamaica’s Director of Agriculture, is referenced, and when describing the present, Wiley spends far more time on Jamaica than he does on New England or the rest of American production. Despite discussing Jamaica, and discussing bacteria, Wiley makes no reference to the difference between budding or fission yeasts that were mentioned in Jamaican rum research 10 years earlier.
The references to Colonial America are interesting and there is definitely a point in rum’s domestic progress (which I think is Sawyer’s arrival) that divides the colonial era from the next era defined by scientific investigation. Wiley gives the feeling that he sees the current state of rum, despite prohibition, being completely modern. He looks backwards with as much distance and we look back on him, though we really haven’t come very much further. Or have we?
Definition.—Rum is an alcoholic beverage distilled from the unrefined fermented products of the sugar cane. The term “rum” is often given as synonymous with all distilled liquors, much as brandy and whisky are used in the same sense. Distinctively speaking, rum is applied only to a spirit distilled from molasses, or from sugar cane products. The sugar cane juice may be fermented directly, or the products of manufacture, notably the molasses, after the separation of a crop of sugar, are used particularly for this purpose. In fact, for all practical descriptions it may be said that rum is an alcoholic distillate derived from the fermented molasses of sugar cane. Rum may be made wherever sugar cane is produced, but experience has shown that there are certain localities, as in almost every other instance of this kind, in which the product is of greater value than in other places.
Rum is one of the oldest and most widely known of distilled alcoholic liquors. Its particularly peculiar flavor and aroma come from the aromatic volatile bodies naturally present in cane juices, produced in the course of manufacture, or formed during the distillation and aging of the product. It is evident that very little volatile aromatic substances can remain in molasses, by reason of the fact that in the making of molasses a very high temperature is reached, especially if the sugar cane juices be boiled in an open kettle. If a vacuum pan be used the heat of boiling is very much lower but the volatility of the bodies therein is correspondingly increased by the diminished pressure. Nevertheless, all molasses has that fragrant aromatic odor peculiar to this sugar cane product and this fragrant odor is preserved to a large extent to the distillate. Rum, as is the case with other distilled liquors, improves greatly on keeping in wood, and both for beverage and medicinal purposes it is highly important that the rum be well aged. The Act of Congress prescribing a term of four years of storage for distilled spirits bottled in bond is based largely on the fact that during the first four years after manufacture the improvement in the quality of distilled spirits is extremely rapid. In a country where the temperatures in summer are equal to those of the United States, the ripening of the distilled spirits makes great progress in this time, though it is by no means complete. The term “old” probably should be applied to a rum much older than four years, although at the end of four years the rum has assumed quite a fragrant and attractive character. Among the localities which produce rum of the highest character may be mentioned the islands of the West Indies, especially Jamaica.
Jamaican rum is probably the most famous of the rums of commerce. Rum is made in almost every country where sugar cane grows, and very largely in countries where it does not grow, as for instance, New England, where the rum industry was established more than a century ago and where it has flourished up to the present time.
Character of the Raw Material.—The molasses which is produced in Louisiana has not been used very extensively there for the manufacture of rum, because it is not sufficiently aromatic, or because the refinements of manufacture have extracted from the molasses too much of its saccharine contents to make it a suitable source for the manufacture of rum. Moreover, it may be said that the use of the fumes of burning sulphur in treating the juices of the expressed sugar cane tends to render the molasses unfit for the manufacture of rum. It would be impossible to make a rum, which would have any character at all from black strap, a lowgrade molasses, or molasses in which the content of sulphur dioxide had been increased to a very large amount by the successive concentrations and extractions of the sugar therein contained.
Manufacture.—The manufacture of rum does not differ in any essential particular and principle from the manufacture of other distilled liquors. In the case of rum there is one difference which is quite marked between that industry and the whisky or spirit industry in general. There is no starch which must previously be converted into sugar before the fermentation takes place. Inasmuch, as the cane sugar which remains in the molasses is not acted upon directly by the ferments, it is important that it should be changed into invert sugar before or during the process of fermentation. Fortunately, the yeasts which are used in the fermentation secrete a diastase which is very active in converting cane sugar into invert sugar. Hence, it is usually not found necessary to convert the cane sugar into invert sugar by treatment with an acid or otherwise before the fermentation begins. As a rule, the invertase secreted by the yeasts is quite sufficient for the purpose mentioned.
Time of Fermentation.—The period for the fermentation of rum is longer than that for the manufacture of whisky, and this is recognized in the regulations, which allow a longer period for fermentation in a distillery surveyed for the manufacture of rum than when surveyed for the manufacture of whisky or alcohol.
While, as is said above, molasses may be considered the base supply for rum, other materials derived from sugar cane are used in many countries in its preparation, wholly or in part. The skimmings which are taken from the boilers of the old open-kettle processes of manufacture are often mixed with the molasses, and there is also found employed in the manufacture of rum the counterpart of the sour mash process of making whisky. In other words, a portion of the residue from the previous distillation, known in some countries as “dunder,” is added to the mash. The rum which is produced wholly from refuse molasses is of a very inferior character, and the same term is applied to it in many countries as was applied to the low-grade whisky made in this country, namely, “nigger rum.” [Wiley was probably a disgusting racist person. I think this really shows the level of his integrity. The only other place I have seen this language was Herstein & Gregory, 1935. Beyond the racism there are other parts of Wiley’s writing that make you question his integrity as a researcher.]
Dunder.—The nature of “dunder” may be described as follows: When the fermented mash from which the rum is to be made is placed in the still, it contains practically all of the yeast cells, living and dead, which aided in or were produced during fermentation. The warming of the fermented material in the still produces a rapid extraction of the soluble materials from the yeast cells. These soluble materials, as is well known, are of the nature of diastases or enzymes. This whole mass, after the removal of the alcohol by distillation, is naturally concentrated and the extracts are in a more usable form than they were before. This material, consisting of numerous mineral matters and other substances, as well as the remains of the yeast cells, forms an excellent food for the nourishment of the new yeast cells of the succeeding fermentation. Naturally, the “dunder” itself does not afford any alcohol, but it stimulates the growth of the yeast, so as to produce a larger yield and of a finer character, provided the quantity of “dunder” employed is not too great.
It must not be forgotten that not only does this residue of the fermentation of the rum contain valuable qualities, but it also has some disadvantages. The “dunder” is very apt to be infected with bacteria, some of which are not killed during the process of distillation. Especially is this true of the bacteria which are produced from spores. Inasmuch as the constituents of this residue are an excellent food for yeasts, they also become likewise a most excellent food for bacteria.
The development of bacteria may interfere very seriously with the succeeding fermentations and introduce elements of activity which tend, or may tend, to produce a product of an inferior quality. Hence, as in the case of using sour mash, attention must be paid to the process of fermentation, in order that no undesirable strain of bacterial or yeast life may be produced.
Manufacture of Jamaican Rum.—Attention has already been called to the fact that rum of most excellent quality, perhaps the most famous of all rums, St. Croix alone excepted is made in Jamaica. Various grades of rum are made in this island, according to the nature of raw materials used and the processes of fermentation and distillation employed.
Varieties of Rums.—In Jamaica a distinction is made between the ordinary “clean” or Jamaican rum, and the very highly flavored product, which by way of distinction is known as “German Rum.” Various theories have been advanced to account for the difference between the “clean ” rum or the ordinary rum, and the highly flavored rums which are produced in this island. The common, belief, as has been expressed, is that the flavoring qualities which distinguish rum from other distilled spirits are peculiar to the sugar cane. They either exist naturally in the products of the cane, or they are produced from pre-existing sources during the processes of fermentation. The essential chemical difference between the ordinary rum of the Jamaican product, and the highly flavored rum, as might be inferred, is in the quantities of esters, or ethers, which they contain. The highly flavored rum contains considerably larger quantities of these ethers than that of the ordinary character; in fact, the quantity is almost twice as great.
Manufacture.—The common rum of Jamaica is made in a very simple way, which may be described as follows:
Molasses is used as the base raw material, and in the regular operation of the distillery “dunder” is used in the fermenting tanks, as has already been described. The skimmings which come from the open kettle used in boiling the product are also added to the fermenting tank. The skimmings are supposed to be particularly valuable by reason of increasing the acidity of the fermented mash. Some manufacturers allow the skimmings to stand in tanks until they become sour, while others allow them to trickle through cisterns over cane trash, which produces a rapid oxidizing effect.
In the manufacture of higher flavored rums an attempt is made to produce a greater etherification, and, consequently, a larger production of aromatic substances due to the action of microbes. These additional flavors cannot be regarded as coexisting in the sugar cane, but they are the product of bacterial activity exercised on the original materials. The two organisms which are most active in this respect are the bacillus butyricus and the bacillus amylobacter, and other forms allied thereto. These bacteria are very common and exist frequently in soil and are not difficult to introduce into fermenting solutions. They are mostly produced from spores and are difficult to destroy by the ordinary processes of sterilization.
The bacillus butyricus is an anaerobic organism and it will not develop well unless it is grown out of contact with oxygen. For this reason, in pure cane juices its action is not at all vigorous. Where the cane sugar has been more or less inverted, this bacillus acts with much greater vigor, especially if some albuminous matter be present. The extract of yeast cells adds very much to the activity of these organisms, and in this we see a scientific reason for the use of “dunder.” The exclusion of the air from the fermenting tank presents practical difficulties in the production of the maximum activity of these anaerobic organisms. Before the aid of scientific investigation was placed at the disposal of the rum maker, he found that to produce very highly flavored rum he would have to add some material to the fermenting mass, which contained, although he did not know it, a considerable quantity of nitrogenous matter, and this was applied from the “dunder” of the preceding fermented mass. The utilization of these special ferments is another reason why the period of fermentation for rum must be longer than that for the manufacture of whisky or spirits. These bacteria are not of quick action; they move slowly and they require some time to produce their full effect. Hence, the period of the rum production may be well above 72 hours without going too far.
There is a popular impression in Jamaica that good rum cannot be produced in a modern sugarhouse, using modern machinery. While some authors doubt the truth of this belief, it must be borne in mind that modern methods, which take away increasingly large quantities of sugar, must, of necessity, diminish the fermenting value of the molasses, and add thereto, proportionately, very much larger quantities of foreign matters than in the style of molasses formerly made. It is perfectly reasonable to suppose that improved machinery would result in a depreciation in the character of the product.
Further Divisions of Rum.—Jamaican rums are further divided from a commercial point of view, into three classes, namely:
1. Rums for home consumption.
2. Rums for export to England.
3. Rums for export to the continent of Europe.
Although rum is one of the principal products of Jamaica, fortunately it is not consumed in very large quantities at home. The statistics show that the local consumption of rum does not much exceed a gallon per head per annum. The citizen of Jamaica cannot be regarded as an inveterate rum drinker. While this is regretted from the point of view of inland revenue, it is a matter of congratulation from the point of view of temperance in the use of all things.
In Jamaica, as in other countries, the introduction of the manufacture of pure spirit has opened the doors for mixing native rums with neutral spirit, and as this is cheaper than making rum in the old-fashioned way, it is not at all surprising that the consumption of these mixed articles has practically driven the consumption of old-fashioned straight rum out of the market. As has been stated by Mr. H. H. Cousins, Government Analyst for Jamaica.
The high-class trade in old rums of delicate softened flavor, which were formerly so highly thought of by the planters and moneyed classes, has largely disappeared, and it would probably be most difficult to obtain a choice mark of an old rum, which has not been blended, from any spirit merchant in Jamaica today.
In regard to the second class, which is intended for shipment to England, it may be said that the same manipulations during the last few years were tried with this class. To such an extent was the manipulation carried, especially after reaching England, that the Jamaican Government sent a special representative, Mr. Nolan, to London to protest against the adulteration of Jamaican rum and see if he could not re-establish the trade in the genuine article. Mr. Cousins refers to the rums of class two, as follows:
The rums of the class to which I now refer, and which constitute the bulk of the rum exported from Jamaica, represent the type of spirit which Mr. Nolan is seeking to advertise, and to protect from fraudulent adulteration, and from the competition of spurious Jamaica rum in the United Kingdom.
The rums of this class are produced by a slower type of fermentation than those intended for the local trade. Some of the best varieties are produced by fermentations in ground cisterns, slightly flavored by the addition of some soured skimmings to the fermented materials. These rums are very rich in ethers, being hardly less than 300 parts of ethers per 100,000 parts of alcohol, and sometimes a great deal more.
Class three rums are intended for consumption on the continent of Europe. The trade in Jamaican rum has been long established on the European continent. This trade has largely declined in recent years, and is, doubtless, due to the adulteration of the article with molasses spirit and other substances, which so depress its character as to make the beverage unpopular. Another reason which has tended to diminish the consumption of Jamaican rum is the extremely heavy duty imposed upon it in Jamaica. This, in connection with the lower rates of duty on alcohol, has rendered the competition of the artificial with the imported article, even with its fine flavor, very keen.
The rums exported to Europe are commonly those already described as German-flavored rums. Not only are these rums treated as has already been described, with “dunder” and under special circumstances, but the period of fermentation is very much prolonged, reaching sometimes as high as 15 or 20 days. The fermentation takes place slowly, under very acid conditions, the acidity being produced by the addition of soured skimmings, or by the slow process of fermentation to which the mass is subjected.
If the ordinary rum shipped to England may be said to contain about 300 parts of ethers to 100,000 parts of alcohol, the German flavored rums will contain practically double that amount, namely, from 600 to 700 parts. It is readily seen that they are very aromatic and are considered the very highest flavored rums of commerce. Some of these very fine rums have been found to contain as high as 1,500 parts of ethers per 100,000 parts of alcohol. These ethers are those of the coordinate alcohols, namely, acetic ether, derived from ethyl alcohol, and the ethers derived chiefly from the higher alcohols, such as butyl, propyl, and amyl.
Differences in Flavor.—All of these three classes above mentioned vary in flavor. It is said that there are no two plantations in Jamaica which produce rum of the same flavor. The output of rum from each place is influenced by the peculiar bacterial flora of that place, and by the methods employed in fermenting and distilling.
Rum is, of all kinds of distilled alcoholic beverages, the most fragrant, and makes the greatest mass effect upon the olfactory nerves. Only connoisseurs of the highest character can pick out the shades of flavor to a certainty, but no one would be misled in respect to the character of the goods, as a rule, even if he were not a connoisseur.
It is a material of this character, so highly flavored, which is so valuable in the stretching of rums; that is, by mixing them with spirits made from any given source, and thus using the genuine article merely as a flavor to the whole mass. The legitimate trade in rum has almost been destroyed, it may be said, by this system of admixture and adulteration.
The above data show in striking contrast the difference between the “common” or “clean” rums of Jamaica, and the flavored rums or those made carefully with “dunder.” There is little difference, as is seen, in the alcoholic strength, the salts, the total acids, the higher alcohols, the furfurol, and the aldehydes; the great difference is in the volatile acids and the esters. It is easy to see that the flavoring matters must belong chiefly to those two classes.
Rum in Guadeloupe.—The French name “Rhum,” and also the name “Taffea” is applied to the alcoholic products obtained by the fermentation and distillation of the juice of the sugar cane, and of the molasses produced in the factories making sugar cane, in Guadeloupe. The name “rhum” in this island is particularly applied to the product obtained by the distillation of the juice itself, and the name “taffea” to the product having molasses as its origin. These different usages of the term are not absolute, and especially in France the term “rhum” is applied to “taffea” which has been stored some years in the cask. Unhappily, in France it is usually mixed with industrial alcohol before it reaches the consumer, or worse still, some artificial product is sold under its name, a product made with artificial essences and with industrial alcohol and the whole colored with caramel.
The true “rhum,” that is, the beverage made from the juice of the sugar cane in Guadeloupe, never reaches France, although its manufacture is a very important item in the island. It is practically consumed in the home of its production. The “rhum” made from the sugar cane juice, when kept for several years in wood without the addition of anything whatever, acquires a bouquet which approaches in excellence that which is acquired by old brandies.
The total production of “rhum” and “taffea” in Guadeloupe is not very great, and as has already been indicated very little of it, if any, is exported. More perhaps of the variety known as “taffea” is exported than of the true “rhum.” The quantity of “taffea” produced is also larger than that of “rhum.”
Other varieties of rum are also made in Guadeloupe, for instance rum made from the boiled cane juice. In the manufacture of this drink the juice of the cane is heated in the boiler in such a way as to boil violently for some minutes. Its density is then considerably increased, the scum is carefully removed and it is allowed to cool. It is diluted with water in such a way as to bring it back to its original density. Finally, this product is taken to the cisterns of fermentation and treated in the ordinary way. Evidently the object of this boiling is to sterilize the juice, thus destroying the adventitious ferments, and at the same time purifying it to a certain extent by removing certain quantities of the matter coagulable by heat and commonly known as “skimmings.”
There is still another variety, made in Martinique, from what is known in that country as “gros sirop.” This molasses is obtained in the manner of the old-fashioned open-kettle molasses, being the dripping from the sugar cane juice boiled over a naked fire in an open vessel until it reaches a crystallizing density. The quantity of sugar made in the island in this way at the present time is almost nil, and hence the amount of rum thus produced is inconsiderable.
In the manufacture in Guadeloupe “dunder” is also used in the fresh fermentations, but the name of it in this island is “vinasse,” namely, the residue of the distillation of the preceding fermentation, in order to produce the rum. This vinasse is very strongly acid and contains usually only traces of sugar, but has a dry residue amounting from 35 to 40 grams per liter. The ash is rich in phosphoric acid and potash. It serves, as has already been stated, for the nourishment of the yeasts, especially in the addition of certain quantities of nitrogenous matter and of mineral substances such as phosphoric acid and potash, which the yeasts require for their proper nourishment.
Distillation in Guadeloupe.—The distillation in Guadeloupe is carried on very much in the same manner as that of Cognac in France. The apparatus consists of practically three parts: the heater in which the fermented mash is raised to a high temperature by the vapor escaping from the still; the still itself, which is the ordinary pot still; and the cooler, which is the ordinary worm surrounded with cold water.
Rum in Demerara.—Rum is also made to a considerable extent in Demerara. Inasmuch, however, as the principal product of the sugar cane is sugar, the raw materials do not have such a high character as those used in Jamaica and in other islands where the process of extraction of the juice for sugar-making purposes is less perfect. The rum made in Demerara is distinctly inferior to that produced in Jamaica and Guadeloupe, St. Croix, and other West Indian countries. Very little, if any, dunder is used in Demerara. The fermentation is produced solely by the added yeasts and is carried on much more rapidly than in Jamaica and Guadeloupe. Moreover, the Demerara rum is often, or largely, produced in chamber stills, or rectifying columns, which is never the case in Jamaica, where only pot stills are employed. This is another reason why the Demerara rums average more nearly the character of alcohols in proportion as they depart from the true character of rums.
Early History of Rum in New England.—The early history of rum in New England is set forth in a work by Alice Morse Earle, entitled “Customs and Fashions in Old New England,” published by Charles Scribner’s Sons in 1893. On page 174 the author says:
Aqua-vitas, a general name for strong waters, was brought over in large quantities during the seventeenth century, and sold for about three shillings per gallon. Cider was distilled into cider brandy, or apple-jack; and when, by 1670, molasses had come into port in considerable quantities through the West India trade, the forests of New England supplied plentiful and cheap fuel to convert it into “rhum, a strong water drawn from the sugar cane.” In a manuscript description of Barbadoes, written in 1651, we read: “The chief fudling they make in this island is Rumbullion alias Kill-Divil—a hot hellish and terrible liquor.” It was called in some localities Barbadoes liquor, and by the Indians “ahcoobee” or “ockuby,” a word of the Norridgewock tongue. John Elliot spelled it “rumb,” and Josselyn called it plainly ”that cussed liquor, Rhum, rumbullion, or kill-devil.” It went by the latter name and rumbooze everywhere, and was soon cheap enough. Increase Mather said, in 1686, “It is an unhappy thing that in later years a kind of drink called Rum has been common among us. They that are poor, and wicked too, can for a penny or two-pence make themselves drunk.” Burke said, at a later date, “The quantity of spirits which they distill in Boston from the molasses they import is as surprising as the cheapness at which they sell it, which is under two shillings a gallon; but they are more famous for the quantity and cheapness than for the excellency of their rum.” In 1710, and fifty years later, New England rum was worth but three shillings a gallon, while West India rum was worth but two-pence more. New England distilleries quickly found a more lucrative way of disposing of their kill-devil than by selling it at such cheap rates. Ships laden with barrels of rum were sent to the African coast, and from thence they returned with a most valuable lading—negro slaves. Along the coast of Africa New England rum quite drove out French brandy.
The Irish and Scotch settlers knew how to make whiskey from rye and wheat, and they soon learned to manufacture it from barley and potatoes, and even from the despised Indian corn.
The drinking of compounded liquors was also practised in old New England, as shown by the following extract from page 178 of this work, beginning:
Flip was a vastly popular drink, and continued to be so for a century and a half. I find it spoken of as early as 1690. It was made of home-brewed beer, sweetened with sugar, molasses, or dried pumpkin, and flavored with a liberal dash of rum, then stirred in a great mug or pitcher with a red-hot loggerhead or bottle or flip-dog, whch made the liquor foam and gave it a burnt bitter flavor.
Landlord May, of Canton, Mass., made a famous brew thus: he mixed four pounds of sugar, four eggs, and one pint of cream and let it stand for two days. When a mug of flip was called for, he filled a quart mug two-thirds full of beer, placed in it four great spoonfuls of the compound, then thrust in the seething loggerhead, and added a gill of rum to the creamy mixture. If a fresh egg were beaten into the flip the drink was called “bellowstop,” and the froth rose over the top of the mug. “Stonewall” was a most intoxicating mixture of cider and rum. “Calibogus,” or “bogus” was cold rum and beer unsweetened. “Black-strap” was a mixture of rum and molasses. Casks of it stood in every country store, a salted and dried codfish slyly hung alongside—a free lunch to be stripped off and eaten, and thus tempt, through thirst, the purchase of another draught of black-strap.
A terrible drink is said to have been made popular in Salem—a drink with a terrible name—whistle-belly-vengeance. It consisted of sour household beer simmered in a kettle, sweetened with molasses, filled with brown-bread crumbs and drunk piping hot.
In a work published in 1890 entitled “Economic and Social History of New England,” by William B. Weeden, it appears that distillation began in Salem as early as 1648. On page 186 we find the following:
Emanual Downing writes that Leader has cast the iron pans to be used in the process. Downing began distilling in Salem this year. Frequent commerce with the West Indies carried out unmerchantable fish to be exchanged for molasses.
On page 188 it is stated:
Rum was much used by the common people, and malt liquors were the favorite drink of the English colonists. The native New England beverage was cider and the presses began to work about 1650. Much barley had been raised in Plymouth. The many malthouses were not so common after this.
In 1686 the Southern part of the Colonies had commenced to buy rum from New England, as stated on page 376. In 1690 it is stated (page 416), “Cider and vinegar corrected the West Indian sugar and molasses always coming in; that is, when the molasses did not evolve itself into the fiery rum. Rum was beginning to be the important commercial factor which it came to be later in the century.”
By 1670, it is stated on page 459:
The West Indies afforded the great demand for negroes; they also furnished the raw material supplying the manufacture of the main merchandise which the thirsty Gold Coast drank up in barter for its poor, banished children. Governor Hopkins stated that for more than thirty years prior to 1764, Rhode Island sent to the Coast annually eighteen vessels carrying 1,800 hhds. rum . . . . . Newport had 22 still houses; Boston had the best
example, owned by a Mr. Childs . . . . . The quantity of rum distilled was enormous, and in 1750 it was estimated that Massachusetts alone consumed more than 15,000 hhds. molasses for this purpose . . . . . The consumption of rum in the fisheries and lumbering and ship-building industries was large; the export demand to Africa was immense.
The adulteration of rum was an early practice. Captain Potter, in 1768, gave directions for the trade on the African Coast, as follows:
Make yr Cheaf Trade with The Blacks and Little or none with the white people if possible to be avoided. Worter yr Rum as much as possible and sell as much by the short mesuer as you can.
Order them in the Bots to worter thear Rum, as the proof will Rise by the Rum Standing in ye Son.
Evidently the Captain was provided with a rectifier’s license.
In 1740, it is stated, page 501:
The most important change in the manufacture of this period was in the introduction of distilleries for rum. Massachusetts and Connecticut undertook the business, but Rhode Island surpassed both in proportion . . . . . The trade in Negroes from Africa absorbed quantities of rum.
The 18th century brought in the manufacture of New England rum with far-reaching consequences, social as well as economical. It was found that the molasses could be transferred here and converted into alcohol more cheaply than in the lazy atmosphere of the West Indian seas.
No Rectification.—In all the references which are made to the manufacture of rum in New England not a single intimation is made that the spirit was ever rectified or mixed with a neutral spirit color and flavor to make a beverage. In fact, the neutral spirit was unknown as a commercial proposition. The stills which were used were the old-fashioned pot stills. It is stated, on page 502, that Mr. Thomas Armory
built a “still-house” in 1722, bringing pine logs 28 feet long, 18 inches in diameter, from Portsmouth for his pumps. In 1726 he orders a copper still of 500 gallons capacity from Bristol, England. The head was to be large in proportion, the gooseneck to be of fine pewter and two feet long, with a barrel in proportion to the whole still.
This shows the character of the still and the nature of the spirit which must have been made therefrom. In the early history of its production there is nothing known of the modern process of rectifying, mixing, adulterating, compounding, coloring and flavoring. In 1659 a hogshead of rum was quoted at 12 pounds, 12 shillings. In 1670 it had fallen to 7 pounds. In 1671 it was quoted at five shillings per gallon. Insofar as can be judged by the early history of these substances, the contention that has been made, that distilled beverages were always rectified, colored, adulterated, mixed and flavored before consumption, does not appear to have any basis in fact.
Morewood, on page 334, of his work, writes of New England rum in the following language:
The rums of New England are considered of good quality, and some deem them not inferior to the best that are produced in the West Indies. In 1810, they distilled in this State 2,472,000 gallons of rum; from grain, 63,730 gallons; from cider, 316,480 gallons, while the breweries yielded 716,800 gallons. Besides this extensive manufacture, much is imported. Geneva is successfully imitated, particularly since the tide of emigration has brought many intelligent men from Holland, who possess sufficient knowledge of this branch of trade, to render the American article equal to that manufactured in the Netherlands. Many of the Irish emigrants distill, in genuine purity, that description of spirits commonly called Innishowen or Potheen, which is no less a favorite on the other side of the Atlantic, than on the shores of Magilligan, or the banks of the Shannon. The following mode of making it at an early period, is thus described by an eyewitness: To a bushel and a half of rye, four quarts of malt, and a handful of hops, were added fifteen gallons of boiling water, which were allowed to stand for four hours. These being increased by sixteen gallons more, two quarts of home-made yeast were thrown in, and in this proportion either a large or small quantity of worts was prepared, which, after being allowed ample time to ferment, was distilled in a simple apparatus. One bushel of rye produced about eleven quarts of weak and inferior spirit, and sold at the rate of 4s. 6d. per gallon. The refuse of these small stills was used in feeding swine.
Description of Rum Making in the Early Part of the Last Century.—An interesting description of the manufacture of rum is found in book written by John Bell and published in 1831 in Calcutta. Mr. Bell describes the manufacture of rum as a part of an article on the manufacture of sugar on a West India plantation. He says his work would not be complete without going into the details of the disposition of the feculencies which form the base of that highly esteemed spirit usually sold in Great Britain under the title of Jamaica Rum. He gives directions for adapting the capacity of the distillery to that of the sugar house, and especially provides that there must be at least one large cistern equal in size to the contents of four fermenting vats, to receive the lees and the dunder. He regards the lees as indispensable in the distillation of rum, and the want of them is seriously felt at the beginning of the season. He advises the following mixture as a proper one for fermented skimmings:
Skimmings 40 percent
Water 40 percent
Lees 20 percent
When molasses is procurable, he recommends one-third each of skimmings, lees and water, and 5 percent of molasses.
After the crop, however, has been harvested and there is a scarcity or total want of skimmings, the distiller must have recourse to his molasses, and the proportion of lees must be increased with regard to the increased tenacity of the sweets.
In this condition he recommends equal proportions of lees and water 40 percent, with 20 percent of molasses. The fermentation, it is stated, is not finished before the end of 10 days, but after a good supply of lees is obtainable it may be finished in five days.
The still used in these days was a very old fashioned one and the top was hated on instead of being secured by clamps or packing. Great attention must be paid to the luting of the head of the still, he says, which is done with clay, and that unless great care is used the alcohol may break out through the crevices and take fire, to the imminent danger of the persons in attendance. The overseer he advises never to leave the still, unless relieved by equally competent assistants. The first distillation in these days was called “low wines.” The strength of the spirit was proved by the bubble, or in the absence of bubble by olive oil, and the spirit was to be made of such a density that olive oil would sink to the bottom of it.
Disposition of the Rum.—A great deal of the rum made in the United States is entered for consumption. Other parts are bought by rectifiers, mixed with neutral spirits, made from corn or molasses, artificially colored, and sold as rum. A very considerable portion of the rum made in the United States, is sent to Africa, and disposed of to the semi-civilized and savage tribes of that continent. The well-known love of the natives of Africa for alcoholic drinks indicates that the markets of that country are particularly favorable to the disposal of large quantities of rum. What the effect is upon the welfare of the natives is a matter which, insofar as I know, has not been taken into consideration in the preparation and shipment of these products.
Quantity Produced, 1917.—Practically all the rum produced in 1917 was made in the Third Massachusetts District (2,706,414 gallons) and Sixth Kentucky District. The total quantity was 2,842,834.3 gallons. The quantity remaining in bond was 906,042.5 gallons.
The total quantity withdrawn from bond and tax paid was 642,798 gallons and the quantity bottled in bond 17,019.7.
The quantity of rum exported was 1,030,249.9. Of this there was sent:
To Africa 778,057.3 Gallons
To England 122,081.5 Gallons
To China 42,400.3 Gallons
To Holland 30,73<> Gallons
To Canada 24,232.6 Gallons
The dearth of ships has greatly decreased the amount of exported rum to Africa over that of previous years. In 1916, 1,196,905 gallons of rum were exported to Africa alone.
Adulteration of Rum.—As in the case of whisky and brandy rum has been subjected to all kinds of adulteration. So great had become the adulteration of rum shipped to England from Jamaica that for every barrel of rum sent 6 barrels were sold. It is not difficult to see how seriously the industries of the island of Jamaica have been crippled. Thus by the better execution of the English food law and the application thereto of the merchandise marks act, a great deal of the adulteration has been eliminated. There is still enough practiced to excite grave concern in the minds of those who make the pure product, and depend upon England for its market. There is no doubt that similar frauds are perpetrated by the rectifiers in this country.