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Lionel Fauquier

Is it worth using sugarcane in rum production ?

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2 hours ago, JustAndy said:

Per a TTB webinar on the whiskey standards of identity, whiskey cannot be made from syrup, it must be processed from grain. So if you are fermenting and distilling sorghum syrup it is a distilled specialty spirit and not whiskey or rum. We've made whiskey and baijiu from sorghum grain, I don't think it will be catching on anytime soon. 

The TTB has allowed several distillers to make whiskey from sorghum molasses/syrup and label it as whiskey.  It is pretty clear that they consider the plant a grain which seems weird.  Anyway, spirits distilled from Sorghum Molasses are really good.  Especially after they have been aged in a barrel for a while.  My grandpa called sorghum molasses spirits rum but I guess he was wrong about that.  Anyway, Whiskey made from sorghum is becoming popular.  Of course yesterday I didn't know that, I just googled it when Silk mentioned it.  I had planned to make rum out of sorghum already, old family recipe and all of that jazz, but now I guess it will be sorghum whiskey.  Sounds better anyway. 

https://thewhiskeywash.com/whiskey-styles/american-whiskey/sorghum-whiskey-friend-foe/

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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. 

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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

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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..

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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

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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.

 

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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.  

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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).  

 

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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. 

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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.

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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 .

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