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Sourcing bacterial strains for rum fermentations

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1 hour ago, Silk City Distillers said:

Historically, it looks like there was quite a bit of variation in the fermentation stocks used for these "Araks" - Sugar Palm, Coconut Palm Sugar, Cane Juice, Molasses, etc.

I think that more draws from etymology, the root arabic word moving into different cultures as distillation spread ending up with very different local alcohols all having similar names arak, araq, arragh, arrack, etc, basically depending on what the local feedstock was. 

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7 hours ago, Silk City Distillers said:

Historically, it looks like there was quite a bit of variation in the fermentation stocks used for these "Araks" - Sugar Palm, Coconut Palm Sugar, Cane Juice, Molasses, etc.

Palm sugar arak typically implies Sri Lankan origin and I found a pretty spectacular set of their research papers years ago. "Excise anecdotes from the Arak country" was also a lot of fun to put together with amazing stories and a realization of terroir. Sadly, I've never actually tasted it.

Batavia Arrack was all from only five Chinese firms operating in Batavia. There were also Dutch firms near by but they were never in the category and didn't have the same yeast process. I don't know if there is any specific differentiation among the five firms, but I think a few were better regarded than the others. To my knowledge there is only one distillery left with the second to last closing in the 1980's, but I'm not certain. I'm pretty sure E. & A Scheer is the sole source for all of it outside Indonesia.

There was a time when Batavia Arrack fetched the most money for any spirit in the world, well beyond both Cognac and Scotch.

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10 hours ago, bostonapothecary said:

There was a time when Batavia Arrack fetched the most money for any spirit in the world, well beyond both Cognac and Scotch.

I know the rack punch history, but from a pricing side the highest prices fetched were flavor, fragrance, and blending stock, no?

Like the highest ester rums, they weren't necessarily intended to be directly consumed.

This one was fun - advertisement from 1760.

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Boston - I think the major clue was in one of your pieces on Java.

Quote

The departure for secondary fermentation in a Chinese distillery is unbelievably unclean, by pouring in and out of the small pots there is spilled and repeatedly the earthen pots break, so that the contents flow over the floor: the shards remain lying and on top of that new rows pots stacked, so that such a space does not meet the modern requirements of asepsis, and nevertheless the best and most fragrant arrack emerges from it. 

Bingo, microbial 'terroir'.  So, what's the bug?  (sorry, I don't think it's pombe).

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Pombe was the yeast, but the bug here just could be as simple as lactic acid bacteria producing pretty much only lactic acid which is a fixed acid. It would be extremely cool for a production to replicate this kind of resting technique pre distillation. It could possibly be coupled with a film yeast like suaveolens (not necessarily in a molasses rum). Those places must have been a sight to behold back then.

One wild card, I don't recall being answered is whether the Batavia Arracks used skimmings or not.

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I’m beginning to wonder if strains like (Kluyveromyces) Lachancea thermotolerans were are of the overall microbiome - numerous studies citing its ability to reduce acetic acid.  You know as well as I do tamping down acetic acid and ethyl acetate are critical in allowing some of the rarer - noble -  esters to shine though, lest they be sacrificed as part of a large heads fraction, or even just overshadowed.

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