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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Add the rest of the mixture from the pot to the bottle.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- Connect that foot of tubing to the pressure cooker using the couplings (I used some plumbers tape to make the seal tight)
- Make a 90 degree bend in the copper tubing just about 3-4 inches from where it connects to the pressure cooker
- 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.
- Connect the coil to the foot of copper tubing using the coupling.
- Next, Add the fermented mixture to the pressure cooker and cover with lid.
- 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.
- Add cold water with lots of ice to the bucket containing the coil. As the ice melts keep adding more.
- After a couple minutes your first few drops will be popping out of the copper tubing at the other end.
- 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.
- 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