Ed of writes ..
I am familiar with a commercial distiller that pumps clean air into the fermenting molasses wash to strip some of the H2S formed during fermentation. After distillation, more clean air is bubbled through the raw spirit to aerate it more..... This would apply more to fermenting molasses which has a higher sulfur content than the sugar most people are fermenting. A small aquarium pump would do the job on for a small distiller.

Sherry is commonly used as an additive in the rum industry although most distillers won't admit it. For best results, blend the sherry and then dilute the spirit to drinking strength before aging.

In the US, only new barrels are used for aging whisky and they can only be used once. A lot of these once-used barrels end up in the Caribbean at the rum distilleries, aging rum. The rest end up at hardware stores and are sold as planters.

A lecture on "Processing of Jamaican sugar cane" by Robert Lancashire yields ..
How do you get rum from sugar cane?

The Jamaican Excise Duty Law, No 73 of 1941 defined rum as "spirits distilled solely from sugar cane juice, sugar cane molasses, or the refuse of the sugar cane, at a strength not exceeding 150% proof spirit".

Rum is produced from sugar cane by fermentation by yeast. The resultant "wash" has approximately 6% alcohol which after distillation produces rum as a clear, colourless liquid with about 80% alcohol and a sharp taste. White rum is essentially this product diluted to 40% alcohol. Gold rum requires aging in small (40 gallon) oak barrels. The process of aging is very complex, involving evaporation of some of the pungent volatile components, reaction of the rum with the oak wood and perhaps even the absorption of oxygen through the barrel to convert some of the alcohol to aromatic esters.

The total level of flavour components rarely exceeds 1% of the total weight (and is normally much lower) in a base of ethanol. This high concentration of ethanol presents particular problems in both sensory and analytical studies. Furthermore, the advent of gas chromatography has shown that most of the components found in potable spirits are the same and that the nuances of flavour are essentially attributable to small differences in the relative proportions of these components.

Note however that expert tasters have been known to name the district and frequently the actual estate from which the rum originated, just by the sense of taste and flavour.

In Jamaica, gold rum is generally bottled at proof strength (Imperial) which is 57 Volume % alcohol. (By comparison, 100 US proof is 50 Volume % alcohol).

Chemical composition of Rum and comparison to American Bourbon Whiskey

The following figures were found for a light-bodied rum that had been aged in charred oak barrels (previously used for aging bourbon).

Composition of Rum and American Bourbon Whiskey
  Jamaican Rum American Bourbon
Age (years) 0 3 0 3
Constituents Concentration g/100L Concentration g/100L
% alcohol 80.1 78.2 77.5 75.5
total solids (extract) 0 87.6 0 136
fixed acids 0.9 8.8 0 12
volatile acids 1.1 20.9 3.2 50
Total acids 2.0 (pH=4.9) 29.7 (pH=4.5) (3.2) (62)
esters (for years, erroneously called ethers) 9.7 37.5 9.6 42.0
aldehydes 1.9 4.7 0.6 5.6
fusel oils (higher alcohols) 48 66 250 298
furfural n/d 1.6 0.12 1.42
tannins n/d 33.0 0 62

n/d= not detected     This page last modified Tue, 20 Jan 2015 20:51:05 -0800