Jump to content
ADI Forums
Lionel Fauquier

Is it worth using sugarcane in rum production ?

Recommended Posts

I was weirdly enough interviewed for that story, my wife is the editor of that site. I don't doubt that sorghum syrup could make an interesting spirit and I've enjoyed reading your family and regions history of it, but it's not legally/technically/or conceptually whiskey when made from syrup. As we have all seen at this point a zillion times, just because the TTB incorrectly approves one label doesn't mean they will or should incorrectly approve a future label. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's more than 1 label.  There seems to be at least 5 products called sorghum whiskey, but I agree, if they are made from sorghum molasses they don't really fit the definition of whiskey.  However, if they are using the grain then it should be fine.  I just can't imagine sorghum grain making good spirits.  Anyway I plan on making some sorghum molasses spirits and aging it in my rack house.  It should be good.

http://oldsugardistillery.com/whiskey.html

http://highwiredistilling.squarespace.com/spirits2016/

https://www.still630.com/spirits-list/2017/12/8/ss-sorghum-whiskey

http://www.jamesfchyde.com/home

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Australian Rum regs denote 'Sugarcane Products'

I certainly see both sides of the Rum/ Whisky view on Sorghum and am on the Grain Whisky side of the fence - although sorghum molasses would certainly boost those all important Brix nicely..

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, JustAndy said:

e've made whiskey and baijiu from sorghum grain, I don't think it will be catching on anytime soon. 

A few year back I was at our state fair and saw a farmer juice sorghum. I asked him if I could have some to ferment and distill.  A month or so later when it has fully matured -- about 12 brix IIRC --  (that which he was juicing at the fair was for show only -- about 2 brix) I brought down three corny keys and some sulphite to kill the native yeast.  I generally treated it as I would cider -- healthy dose of nutrients and some SO5 yeast.  Fermented out dry. Ran in our small test still.... As @JustAndy said, it ain't going to be catching on soon.  I found it rough and "disjointed". Granted the yield was about a gallon of spirit and cuts are notorious difficult in small batches, I just don't see this being a thing.  Here's a pic of the juicer. I love our State Fair!

 

DSC_0996.jpg.182af0bc64285c2440c5cd26aa87a5f4.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Indy,  I used to live in Speedway and Mars Hill. I did iron work for a company called Rome builders in the early 80s. I have a lot of family in Indy.  My cousin owns 2 scrap yards there and West Side Auto, my sister is a corporate attorney and her and her husband live in Carmel.  I have around 30 cuisine total that live there.  Many of my aunts and uncles went up there during the 40s 50s and 60s to find work.  I go visit from time to time.  Do you do tours at your distillery?

  Anyway, sorghum juice doesn't work well for spirits, because the impurities have not been skimmed off during boiling  and according to my grandfather  "thar haint enough sugar in hit" however sorghum molasses makes outstanding spirits, especially if barrel aged.  Much better than anything that I have tatsed that was made from black strap.  Below is a video done in Cades Cove where many of my ancestors lived. If you watch the entire video you will see these guys  skimming off the impurities that create the nasty flavors, as they cook down the juice.  If your juice was not cooked and skimmed it would have made some pretty nasty tasting stuff.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just Andy, After a little thought I agree with you concerning the fact that spirits made from sorghum should not be considered whiskey, with that in mind, what do you think about Vodkas that have subtle flavors, like wheat vodkas with hints of vanilla.  If we follow the TTB rules then any Vodka that has flavor that was carried over in the distillate, is not Vodka correct?  The TTB states that Vodka must  be without distinctive character, aroma, taste or color.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

1 hour ago, Southernhighlander said:

If your juice was not cooked and skimmed it would have made some pretty nasty tasting stuff.

Now you tell me!  I did nothing except kill the wild yeasts (did so immediately upon filling the cornies).  

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The vodka thing doesn't bother me, because I no longer work anywhere that makes vodka 😉

More seriously, with the exception of color I consider the definition to be an unenforceably subjective standard because everything has an aroma and flavor and if you do enough QC and sensory panels you can get pretty sensitive to them. Water is probably defined as flavorless, but taste the water in 5 states and they will all be different. Even DI or RO water has a taste when compared to a non-RO sample. If the definition was based on g/LPA of esters or volatiles or something analytically measurable it would make more sense to me, but right now it's sort of the 'i know it when i see it' definition of pornography. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Looks like same process we use for making cane syrup. Also close to process for making panalla from videos I have seen. We use a tractor to run the grinder these days though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I will tell you this, if you are planning on planting sugar cane, make sure that wild hogs aren't in your area. Ask me how I know.

 

 

 

FC

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Florida Cracker, sounds like planting a little cane is a good way to bait some hogs in your neck of the woods.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 8/8/2018 at 12:17 PM, Southernhighlander said:

Lionel,

I did a little research.  What my people (people from Appalachia) call sugar cane, most others in the US call sweet sorghum.  It grows up to 15 ft tall in the Smokies.  Since we called it sugar cane, I did not know that what someone in LA calls sugar cane was different, until I just did a little research.  Below is a picture of some West VA sugarcane.  Note the difference from Milo (seed sorghum).  When we made molasses from our cane, we had what was called a cane boiling.  Everyone would show up with their cane and we would make molasses.  When I was a kid, most of the people in Rudd Holler would go to Glen Walker's place for the cane boiling, because he had a cane press and the other equipment to do the job.  He would keep part of everyone's molasses for the use of his equipment.  The older people in my holler pulled together for lots of things including the tobacco harvest and the hanging and grading of tobacco which we called bakker.

   One of the reasons that the revenuers had such a hard time there, was because the people were very tight knit and clannish.  They just would not give each other up.  They would rarely call the law for any problem in those days and before.  Most issues were handled internally.  Also they believed that the government had no right to stop a man from making whiskey from his own corn on his own equipment.  The moonshiners of my grandfather's time were very good at their craft.  He made great Brandy, Sweet Mash Corn Whiskey and Charter Whiskey (bourbon).  The moonshiners that came later mostly made cheap sugar head and still do.  

 

Sorghum03-300x300.jpg?resize=300%2C300

 

  Interesting ....

 

 I actually work in the Eastern Panhandle of WV and I've never seen or heard of people growing sweet sorghum .  I'll ask around if it's possible to grow there though , since this post has stoked my curiosity .

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 8/9/2018 at 11:37 AM, Southernhighlander said:

Just Andy, After a little thought I agree with you concerning the fact that spirits made from sorghum should not be considered whiskey, with that in mind, what do you think about Vodkas that have subtle flavors, like wheat vodkas with hints of vanilla.  If we follow the TTB rules then any Vodka that has flavor that was carried over in the distillate, is not Vodka correct?  The TTB states that Vodka must  be without distinctive character, aroma, taste or color.  

Sorghum whiskey is made from the seed/grain/kernel, and can be called whiskey. Sorghum rum is made from the cane, and once was called sorghum rum, until the feds decided rum can only refer to a product from sugar cane, so now must be a specialty. Some of the spirits that Paul identified are made from the grain. If someone submits a label for sorghum whiskey, with no formula tied to it, it can be approved by the feds, since it is an allowed label. But if they are actually making a sorghum "rum" from the cane, and labeling as sorghum whiskey, that is illegal, and they might eventually get caught, but not until the feds audit or check the paperwork: like noticing that they are producing all this whiskey, but bringing in lots of sorghum syrup but no sorghum grain.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 8/17/2018 at 9:59 AM, Lionel Fauquier said:

 

  Interesting ....

 

 I actually work in the Eastern Panhandle of WV and I've never seen or heard of people growing sweet sorghum .  I'll ask around if it's possible to grow there though , since this post has stoked my curiosity .

  In those areas like West Virginia where many farmers once grew Sugar Cane (sweet sorghum), most rural people had sorghum Molasses in their cupboards, but you rarely see it today. Sugar is cheap, so few people have sorghum in their kitchen today. 

For the reasons I just outlined, you don't see it being grown very often in WV, but 50 years ago you would have probably seen it here and there and 100 years ago you would have seen more of it being grown in a great many areas of the US.  Most people grew it for use by themselves and their neighbors.  When no money was available people worked together to produce things like sorghum and everyone that took part would get a share.  Others could trade for it or may pay a few pennies for it.

I googled WV sugarcane and got somegood results.  Click on this link to see more pics of sorghum in West VA.   Note that just like my people in The Great Smokey Mountains, they call it sugar cane.  https://www.loc.gov/item/2017799495/   

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 8/8/2018 at 8:58 PM, Southernhighlander said:

The TTB has allowed several distillers to make whiskey from sorghum molasses/syrup and label it as whiskey.

I think you mean mistakenly label it as whiskey.  I've made a spirit out of sorghum juice.  The best I can describe it as is rough. 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you made it out of sorghum juice that had not been processed into molasses I can imagine that it was rough.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 hours ago, Silk City Distillers said:

Going to submit a recipe for bourbon using high fructose corn syrup.

 

200.gif

  • Haha 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
15 hours ago, Silk City Distillers said:

Going to submit a recipe for bourbon using high fructose corn syrup.  Same thing as sorghum syrup whiskey.

You can't make a product from high-fructose corn syrup and call it bourbon, legally, presuming you mean you are going to bring high-fructose corn syrup into the distillery as the raw material.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The traditional Chinese spirit made from sorghum is called Baijiu, and is somewhere between a moonshine and vodka and rum in spirit type and quality.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 8/14/2018 at 10:16 AM, Silk City Distillers said:

I think I want to know. 😂

 

Well, I was just going to plant some to use to inoculate my fermented "dunder pit" . Hogs found it, dug it up and ate it. Surely don't need to bait them up around here, they are here anyway. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, Florida Cracker said:

Well, I was just going to plant some to use to inoculate my fermented "dunder pit" . Hogs found it, dug it up and ate it. Surely don't need to bait them up around here, they are here anyway. 

We have wild hogs here as well but if you want to kill them without a lot of effort, you bait them.  I'm from the great Smoky Mountains of East TN.  Old Jim Tom Hedrick, who's picture you use, is distantly kin to me through my mothers side.  The Hedricks, like the Halls, have been in the Smokies a very long time and they have been distilling for generations.  Sorry for getting off the subject.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×