Striking Rum Oil! Comparing Three Rums With The Birectifier

For sale: birectifier ($1800USD)

This post is a side by side tasting of the eight fractions of three extraordinary rums. Two even exhibit very positive signs of rum oil. All three had different starting proofs, but all were scaled to 100 ml of absolute alcohol to align the fractions from the birectifier.

The difference between a cru and a grand cru is nuance and intensity. -Some francophile wino somewhere

The first rum was the Old Newbury Port New England rum (ONP), bottled at 86 proof. This was likely produced in the early 1980’s and is very seldom seen. It is quite tasty. The second was Mezan XO (MXO) which I consider to easily be the most extraordinary rum on the market for the price and hails from Jamaica. The third rum was the 24 year old Golden Devil (GD24) also from Jamaica, bottled I think for K & L liquors. If we were going to find a positive for rum oil, it was the best thing I could come up with. I am confident enough in the birectifier to sacrifice $40 worth of sample.

The fractions are amazing and you can infer so much about the differences by drinking precise dilutions side by side. Each fraction is 25 ml, but for my protocol I simply took 5 ml (from the 25 ml) and diluted the first four fractions (high alcohol) 3x and the second four fractions (low alcohol) 2x.

I slowly tasted fractions 1-4 then was intimidated by fraction 5 so I did 8-6 backwards and saved five for last. Fraction 5 regulates quality, and in the Golden Devil and Mezan XO, appreciable glorious rum oil was floating at the top of the fraction.

A plane is a fragment of the architecture of space. -Hans Hoffman

The birectifier is all about fragmentation and to some degree the fractions can be thought of as planes that fit together to complete a spirit. Many of the fractions alone have no distinct features to tell you who they belong to until you get to fraction 5 which is the corner stone or the personality fraction. Tasting fraction 5 in all three was intense.

I am an unconventional taster and I don’t really believe there is much value in the object comparison comma object comparison method. I believe in non-linguistic thought and grounded cross-modal metaphors. Aromas can easily be be olfactory-sour (olfaction in terms of gustation) or flavors angular (olfaction or gustation in term of shape). Aromas in many cases are illusory. You don’t really describe a wine or spirit truly, you describe your own recollections. The way attention dances between known spaces, the grotesque (think mermaid), is more interesting than either known space itself.

The point is your notes may be a little different than the usual because birectifier fragments are out of context. The above ideas should liberate you to make meaningful notes by any means necessary.

Not many tasting experiences deal with abnormal thresholds, but this is industrial tasting; scalpel, stethoscope, and magnifying glass. The two big categories I use for aroma related to thresholds abstracted by distilling are culinary and non-culinary. Non-culinary aromas can be like solvents other than ethanol, perhaps acetone, sometimes glue-like. There can be weird prickly acridness that only has a very intuitive shape and no obvious object comparisons. There can be degrees of staleness that are hard to give scale to (scaler adjective problem). Things can be cardboard-y or like the rank aroma of a sanke beer keg coupler that needs cleaned. I suspect that many of these aromas relate to sulfur compounds. A baseline will always exist, but an excess will out compete for attention and/or overshadow positive components in the final product.

Monumentality is an affair of relativity. The truly monumental can only come about by means of the most exact and refined relation between parts. Since each thing carries both a meaning of its own and an associated meaning in relation to something else — its essential value is relative. We speak of the mood we experience when looking at a landscape. This mood results from the relation of certain things rather than from their separate actualities. This is because objects do not in themselves possess the total effect they give when interrelated. -Hans Hoffman


ONP: Lighter, but not exactly light enough to be fruity.

MXO: Seems to match ONP.

GD24: Enough to be above threshold and non-culinary.

It is a good idea to taste the predicted lightest first before getting clobbered by the heaviest. Some of these fractions generate sensory fatigue and you almost feel like you need to walk away for a bit to regather your bearing (which is a valid technique!).

What kind of brick house went into the barrel if Golden Devil came out? You can not recognize any of the original rum in the first isolated fraction. If a congener of terroir is in fraction 1, it is likely overshadowed.

FRACTION 2 (no non-culinary aromas)

ONP: Really light, nothing too distinct.

MXO: Really light, nothing too distinct.

GD24: Enough character to be distinct, candied jolly rancher aroma.

FRACTION 3 (no non-culinary aromas)

ONP: Faint fruitiness, very neutral.

MXO: faint fruitiness, very neutral.

GD24: More concentrated candied fruitiness inline with fraction 2. More than I would expect from what the literature says about fraction 3.

Fractions 2 and 3 are mainly thought to be alignment fractions. They confer the same information as fraction 1, but are far less concentrated in congeners. Sometimes you can skip analyzing them, but they have to be collected properly so the other fractions align. The faint fruitiness likely comes from ethyl acetate being bar enough below the recognition threshold to be non-culinary, but well above the absolute threshold where it summons a hollow phantom fruit. It was very surprising that GD24 had concentrated aroma in fraction 3 which his typically thought to be the most neutral. Is it from esters or perhaps an acetal?

FRACTION 4 (where 75% of the fusel oil lives)

ONP: Nothing too objectionable to smell, not horribly dissonant to taste.

MXO: Nothing too objectionable to smell, not horribly dissonant to taste.

GD24: Still smelling a fruitiness! Somehow it was the most drinkable?

Organoleptic analysis may fail us a little bit here, where its a safe bet GD24 has the most fusel oil, but somehow other things it may have makes it the most palatable. Unless we had titration to count congeners we could not say for sure. A new theory to keep in mind is that other congeners modulate allowable fusel oil. Relative amounts are more important than absolute amounts.

FRACTION 5 (the personality fraction!)

ONP: Attractive nose, hard to drink. Almost a chemical cloying sensation. Reminiscent of Cognac. Cloudy on dilution. Perhaps dilute more?

MXO: There was floating rum oil and emulsion on this fraction so it was split into two trials, the first decanting which capture the floating congeners, and then a second. I tasted the second first. The second decanting is less intense than the single ONP fraction 5 and far easier to drink. The first decanting is noticeably more cloudy than the second. The aroma of the first decanting is in line with the second and both have a different nature than ONP. ONP would relatively more angular. The first decanting is palatable. Going back to fraction 5 of ONP and it is not palatable. I have no clue why.

GD24: Nosing straight out of the volumetric flask, it is easily the most unique with tons of fruit and bubblegummy character. There is fruit character I associate with candies I’d call artificial. I decided to shake the contents before decanting and also set up an exhaustive test. There is some kind of erotic muskiness that MXO does not have. Tons of layers of character, you could actually break out the descriptor comma descriptor business for quite a while. This is less palatable than the MXO, but more so than the ONP. It is not as acidic as the following fractions.

I actually tasted fraction 5 last. The GD24 is absolutely special. Finding a very different nature between the ONP and the Jamaicans, I feel there is weight to my theory that rum oil has two channels which are the glycocides and the carotenoids. How do you emphasize a channel? Who knows! (I actually do have ideas), but we just thrust a frontier wide open and there is room for a lot of people! I saved the remainder of the fractions and mixed it in with my Murray & Lanman Florida Water aftershave. Next time I may dip a few cigars.

The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak. -HH (no doubt about making cuts in distillation)


ONP: Faint aroma, slightly stale, but also slightly something else I’d just call positive. No distinct acidic taste.

MXO: Faint aroma, no distinct acidic taste. Far more indistinct than I’d have thought.

GD24: Rum oil aroma plus a buttery kind of olfactory-sourness.


ONP: Not too distinct, aromas I may associate with staleness. Slightly acidic tasting.

MXO: Not too distinct, aromas I may associate with staleness. Slightly acidic tasting.

GD24: Faint rum oil aroma. Definitely acidic tasting. No staleness.

FRACTION 8 (very similar to fraction 7)

ONP: Not too distinct, aromas I may associate with staleness. Slightly acidic tasting.

MXO: Not too distinct, aromas I may associate with staleness. Slightly more intense than ONP. Slightly acidic tasting.

GD24: Faint rum oil aroma. Definitely acidic tasting. No staleness.

According to the literature, fermentation faults appear in the last three fractions, but nowhere in any of the three rums did I feel there were any flaws.

This tasting was pretty exciting and provided a lot of bearing for what is normal and also at the limits what is possible. I immediately wonder how a Lost Spirits accelerated aging rum would hold up to birectifier scrutiny. I also wondered why there was never any puky or vomity aromas we talk up as coming out of butyric acid. This is a lot to digest but the birectifier lived up to all the hype in the literature.


For sale: birectifier ($1800USD)

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