rum-barrel

How to make Homemade Rum

Ever wondered how they make that magical liquid that when drunk moderately makes your night better and in excess your morning worse? Well I have and I’ve decided to concoct my own version of rum just to see if I could. And let me tell you, its the best rum I’ve ever had…Well it comes close.

It is surprisingly easy to make your own rum, with just one stop to the local grocery store and a little light Googling one day, anybody can create their own alcoholic masterpiece. Many articles on the subject will tell you that you need fancy yeast, fancy equipment and fancy setup to yield the best tasting alcohol. They’re Right. But this one will come quite close to the real thing, drinkable but not sell-able.

Ok what is Rum? Rum is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from sugarcane by-products such as molasses and sugarcane juice by a process of fermentation and distillation. The distillate, a clear liquid, is then usually aged in oak and other barrels (Wikipedia). The last part is what imparts the traditional color and flavor to the rum, the longer its aged the deeper the color and the more pronounced is the flavor. Our rum will not be aged cause it takes to long to get to the best part of the whole thing…drinking it. But if you made a lot you can put down a few in a wooden bottle or wine cask for a couple months till the flavor is to your liking.

So our Rum consists of the following ingredients:

  • Distilled Water (2 litres-your standard bottled water will do)
  • 1 pack plain old bakers yeast
  • 1-2 lbs sugar (granulated works best)
  • 8 ounces of Molasses

With this quantity of ingredients the yield will be roughly 500ml (2 flasks) of  high alcohol content rum (I don’t have any fancy gadgets to measure the actual percentage but its tastes really strong). This list of ingredients is no way gospel so feel free to mix and match the quantities to your liking. There are some things you will have to take into consideration that i will explain later.

There are two parts to this method, the fermentation and the distillation.

Fermentation

  1. So you take the  molasses, sugar and two thirds of the water and combine them in a suitable pot. Let it warm (hot enough to keep your finger in there, no more) and mix till everything is dissolved. You can turn it off at this point.
  2. Remove half a cup of the mixture and mix in the bakers yeast. If you start to see the mixture foaming, then we’re in business.
  3. The bottle that the water came in should still have one third of the water remaining. Add the yeast mixture to that and lightly shake.
  4. Add the rest of the mixture from the pot to the bottle.
  5. Now you need to make an airlock. This is a device that keeps oxygen out but allowing the carbon dioxide that is produced from fermentation to be released. To make this all you need is a balloon.
  6. Find a balloon that will fit snugly unto your plastic bottle. Use a pin to bore a couple holes at the top of the balloon and then fit it it securely over the plastic bottle.
  7. Let it sit for a few days until the bubbling stops or becomes very minimal.

Now some things to note:

The yeast is the workhorse of the whole operation, its purpose is to convert the sugar into ethanol (alcohol). The molasses, although it also supplies sugar is there to provide the nutrients the yeast requires to flourish. It is is not needed but the yeast works better in a nutrient rich environment. The molasses also provides the flavor of the rum, without molasses it would not be rum.


Distillation
Distillation is basically heating the ethanol to its boiling point where its turned into a vapor, it then travels though some apparatus that cools it back into a liquid. Surprisingly, the apparatus its quite easy to make, all you need are the following.

  • 10ft of 1/4 inch copper tubing (Hardware store)
  • A couple copper couplings (Hardware store)
  • 1 old pressure cooker (Mothers cupboard)
  • A two gallon bucket
  • Waterproof sealant (preferably silicon)

So all you gotta do is this:

  1. Find an old paint bucket and wrap the copper tubing around it to form a coil. leave enough space at one end to fit unto the pressure cooker. Its good to cut off about one foot of tubing to allow for easy assemble and storage.
  2. Bore a hole is the side, close to the bottom of the bucket, this hole needs to be big enough to push the copper tubing through.
  3. Connect that foot of tubing to the pressure cooker using the couplings (I used some plumbers tape to make the seal tight)
  4. Make a 90 degree bend in the copper tubing just about 3-4 inches from where it connects to the pressure cooker
  5. Place the copper coil into the bucket and fit the end through the hole you made and use the sealant to make the hole waterproof.
  6. Connect the coil to the foot of copper tubing using the coupling.
  7. Next, Add the fermented mixture to the pressure cooker and cover with lid.
  8. Turn your stove on high and get it warm then reduce it to a medium heat. There is a temperature that ethanol boil at but don’t worry bout that too much.
  9. Add cold water with lots of ice to the bucket containing the coil. As the ice melts keep adding more.
  10. After a couple minutes your first few drops will be popping out of the copper tubing at the other end.
  11. The first few drops you discard, don’t worry about that too much but i heard the first few drops are bad so discard it.
  12. After you get about 500ml of distillate you can stop the procedure and start cleaning up. If you changed the quantity of the fermentation mixture, once the drops become infrequent you can stop distilling. The distillation takes about an hour to complete after the first drop.

Some things to note:

The first few drops are said to be methanol, a form of alcohol that’s bad for you. But the quantities produced are not enough to harm you, Orange Juice has more methanol than this mix.

If you have any leaks you can use flour glue to stop it or food grade silicon sealant, but ordinary silicon sealant will do.

The rum that is produced is clean or a very translucent shade of brown. Oh its also very strong. It will taste strongly of Molasses and kinda oily. If you want to make its a bit more like say, vodka, just distill the rum two or three more times.

After yu have graduated from this you can make you own changes to the setup and recipe. Try honey instead of sugar and some fruits to the fermenting mixture. Whatever is to your liking and produces a good flavored alcohol.

NB: The distillation is the most delicate (and dangerous) part of the whole process. Ideally, you should use industry standard equipment and safe practices. Please employ as many safety precautions as possible and be very very careful. For safe distillations methods and plans please refer to websites that have mastered the art and have perfected safe methods of home distillation. I cannot stress this enough, attempt at your own risk.

An that’s basically it…homemade rum in less than a week. I have provided a gallery of the setup and also some very useful links. Cheers and remember to drink responsibly.

Guide to make an alternate pot distill: Amazing Plastic Still Clever Method of Making Spirit

Useful link for home brewers, various quantity calculators and lots of recipes from other home brewers: homedistiller.org

I am a mystery wrapped in a riddle, seen by all known by few, The one always apart in company yet never alone in solitude.

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165 comments

  1. josh

    is it always brownish once distilled cause mines just plane clear, and also another way to make an airlock is to hook a hose onto the bottle top and feed that hose into a bucket of water thats below it,or u can get a normal pressure gauge wich works just as well

  2. Sadly, Captain Jack Sparrow and the crew never aquired this technology.

  3. mega jon

    fuck the fermentation! I want rum NOW! (if you can’t affford a full bottle of rum buy a few mini’s ( or steal some if you are poor/ a PIRATE yo ho ho (drinking some rum now ;-P

  4. Theresa

    first time trying to make rum, Used 8 litres of water, 6 lbs sugar, 1 container of mollasses, & 1 pkg yeast. fermentation about 1 month. Running it through the distiller(I bought a countertop one). It is not coming out clear, what am I doing wrong? Could it be the type of mollasses I used? It started out clear, & the first few millemetre I through out. With it coming out this darker colour, is it safe to drink?

    • If its a light brown its ok. It ma have some impurities in it. Awesome about the counter top distiller. Best way to distill.

  5. Mr.J

    How long should I let the mix ferment for a good rum?

    • Shonari

      Anywhere between 3 days to a week. Well for hooch anyway

  6. John

    I am just starting out I have got the still made and have used your recipe
    2 liter 8 molasses 1 yeast 1-2 sugar on the sugar part I have put one pound
    I have put the ballon on it and it has inflated do I wait until it go down to distill I made it on 1/20/2013 also If I am going to make a gallon do I use more yeast

    • Mr j

      Your gettin it right. Experiment with it, I did. I get really good stuff. Dont over do the yeast. I started runnin corn too and got really good stuff. probably 65-70%/

  7. Scarlett

    This is brilliant – do you have a method for making spiced rum? xx

  8. Eddy

    I know why some ppl Is not being sucessful In the destIlatIon part, Its sImple… It Is not destIl too long allone It could be destIllIng too fast or at a hIgh temp. See? the trIck to separatIng a hIgh alcoholIc contaInIng result Is dIrectly related to the dIference In boIllIng poInts of alcohol and water. Alcohol boIls at 78 deg F and water at 100. SInce we dont have a termometer or thermostat equIped gadget here we want our stove at a very low fIre If gas stove or between the 1 and the 2 on electrIcal stoves, the process Is long but the result wIll be guaranteed. Just keep testIng your rum wIth matches or a lIgther, your dlame should be blue, once It Is not flamable Its water what Is comIng out. At thIs poInt stop destIllIng.

  9. Nilesh nair

    What if i use sugarcane juice and omit the distillation process.

    • Shonari

      It would be alcoholic but not rum. Think…Mead (except mead is made with honey)

  10. JD

    When aging the rum in barrels, How do certain woods affect taste? Are there any taboo’s? Specifically, would pecan, pear, peach, or other fruit trees be relatively safe for aging?

  11. Eddy

    so I have successfully harvested good qualIty rum wIth ShonarI’s method; Now I have some tIp for those who lIke toserve somethIng dIffrent on the hollydays or specIal get togethers at home… ThIs Is very popular where I am from, so I want to share It.

    Now that we have a strong rum why not ageIng some? thIs Is what I dId…

    6oz raIsIngs
    6oz dryed prunes
    12oz almonds (not roasted)
    12oz honey
    2 cInnamon stIcks

    when you add theese togeter you should have about half of a bottle of flavorIng IngredIents then just add you strong homemade rum to the bottle and seal It

    just let them sIt, shake every tIme you remember to have your IngredIents loose the flavors. Let It sIt for at least 5 monts. It wIll turn Into sort of a conIac, theese IngredIents also have sugar so the abv wIll spIke up. they wIll also sponge up and suck In alchohol so when you run out of lIquor you can also eat them and each one of them wIll be lIke takIng a shot or you could repeat the process scInce you have the full flavors captured on that bottle.
    I have a bottle agIng tamarInd, I have a coconut replaced the water wIth the rum and sealed wIth wax and one wIth tge recIpe above. Ill let you know how dose work at the end of thIs year for they have hollyday IntentIons

  12. nfmgl

    dont use brass people. it is not all natural and can create toxic hooch just use copper fittings instead. the idea is that anything that makes contact with the vapor path should be either stainless steel or copper.

    mix flour and water into a paste and use it on your seals to get them airtight. the flour and water mixture will bake and expand because of the heat and create your airtight seal.

    cheers

  13. nfmgl

    also its widely recommended to use 1/2″ copper tubing instead of 1/4″ to be completely safe from blockage/pressure build up. hopefully this doesn’t debunk the pressure cooker concept.

    just trying to help. but thank you a ton for the recipe.

  14. Eddy

    All you wIll need to swItch to 1/2 Is a1/4 to 1/2 fIttIng and a 1/4 90deg elbow fIttIng use em together at the outlet of the preassure cooker, thIs wIll elevate the prIze a bIt, 1/2 tubIng Is more expensIve. ShonarI’s method has worked fIne for me for Im not tryIng to mass produce.

  15. Lonnie

    Thought all my time and effort was going to be wasted. But it wasn’t. I use raisins and brown sugar for rum and that turns out ok. It’s clear and pretty tasty. The real kicker is the corn whiskey. It’s clear and sweet and turns out better than the rum. Thanks for all the posts and help. I use a stainless steel 6 gallon turkey fryer with a flare elbow in the top and 1/4″ copper tubing. I have a 5 gallon bucket for my tubing to run through with a 3/4″ run off at the top to keep the water cool inside while distilling. Works really good. Haven’t tested the proof yet but it tastes stronger than rum we buy. No joke…it’s way, way stronger. Thanks again.

  16. Eddy

    when savIng dande” do I repeat the entIre recIpe or do I omIt molasses?

  17. kevin

    What would be the measurement for this with replacing the molasses and putting brown sugar or more sugar in general?

  18. Zed

    Heya, Shonari. Any idea what the ABV on this stuff might be?

  19. Troy

    I found putting the fermentation in the fridge before distilling helps the yeast settle and easier to separate for a cleaner taste. ;P

  20. Jeannine

    My cousin just brought me sugar cane that has been grown in our family for over 100 years, he commented that this cane is extra sweet compared to other can he has eaten. I was on computer trying to find what is needed to make syrup when I learned we can make Rum out of sugar cane. Can’t wait till we can produce a crop of sugar cane, then we can enlarge our crop until we get enough to make the rum. Any idea how many acres of sugar cane are needed per quart or gallon of rum???

  21. Kevin hay

    ALSO IF YOU HAVE IT IN A CLEAR GLASS JAR After distill you can just shake the jar on its side and if the little bubbles disappear quiet quickly the alcohol is high it normally means it’s over 60 proof

  22. Dgs

    How much yeast is Needed for this Fermentation of 2 litres?

  23. Dgs

    How much yeast is Needed for this Fermentation of 2 litres? ?

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