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Lionel Fauquier

Is it worth using sugarcane in rum production ?

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  To my knowledge sugarcane is often used in rum production , so I was wondering if it's worth using when it comes to the realm of homemade rum .

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        Ah I see ...

 

  Would I be correct in assuming that fresh sugarcane is impossible to find unless one lives in an area where it grows ?

 

 

 

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When I was a kid in The Great Smoky Mountains we grew our own sugar cane and a man that lived in the same Holler as us had a cane press that was powered by a draft mule walking in a circle turning the gears.  We would extract the cane juice and then we would boil it down until it was thick enough to be called molasses.  When my Grandfather made Rum he would never use cane juice because the sugar content was too low and no one ever let cane juice sit for any amount of time. He would always use molasses

.  When I was around 7 years old the man that ran the cane press got his hand into the gears somehow and it smashed his hand really badly.  He was bleeding like a stuck hog, so my grandmother who was an old mountain midwife and herbal healer, told me to run over to a shed that was a few feet away and get her a handful of spider webs and bring to her.  She took the spider webs and rubbed them into the wound while she muttered the words to a bible verse that she said would "stop blood".  The bleeding stopped in a few seconds and no turniquest was needed, when my dad drove the man the 20 miles to the emergency room.  My dad said that the Dr. on duty said that without a Tourniquet the man should have bled to death.  He could not figure out why the wound clotted so well. 

Grandma said that she stopped the bleeding with the bible verse but I believe it had more do do with the spider webs.   She had another verse that she would use to draw fire (make a burn stop burning).  It sure seemed to work on us grand kids if we got burned, but at the same time she muttered the words under her breath, she would be rubbing one of her herbal salves into the burn, so I think that it was the salve. 

My grandma had an old copper coffin still that she ran on her cook stove.  She made really great brandies.  She would use the brandies to make her herbal tinctures and her cough medicines.  She had tinctures for all kinds of different stuff.  One would make you pee while another would make you poop.  She had one that would "cure the spring lethargy" by thinning your blood and another that would get you ready for winter, and another that would make you barf and a myriad of others for all kinds of different complaints.  I hated all of those tinctures because every one of them tasted horrible.  I loved her cough medicine though.  It had horehound and some other herbs in it and it tasted really good.

Before antibiotics she sometimes used maggots to clean infected wounds.  She even talked about using them once for a really bad ear infection.   Pretty crazy stuff if you ask me, but all of the really old people around there swore by her healing abilities.  She would get mad as hell when she  the sto9ry about the Drs back in the 1940s  telling her that if she did not stop delivering babies she would be arrested for practicing medicine without a license.

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3 hours ago, Southernhighlander said:

We would extract the cane juice and then we would boil it down until it was thick enough to be called molasses.  When my Grandfather made Rum he would never use cane juice because the sugar content was too low and no one ever let cane juice sit for any amount of time. He would always use molasses

So it begs the questions .....

1  If you used the boiled down sugar cane juice into mollasses and proceded from there, would you still get the same "funk" rum flavour as you would from a sugar cane juice fermentation.

2.  Which gives the better final product flavour .... juice or mollasses version as above

 

I ask these questions because I have been recently looking at rum from sugar cane juice and have been pondering about logistics as I am a days drive away from sugar cane juice areas.

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Great story Southernhighlander.   If I fly-drive down to pick up my equipment, you have time for a cocktail or two and a cigar?   I have a feeling you have a few more of these stories tucked away!

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On the sugarcane juice question.   I just came from a distillery visit where they were selling their own aged rum agricole.  It is pretty good stuff.  In our state you have to distill what you sell onsite at the distillery.   And that is all these guys do... sell at their distillery and at a second retail location.  The tour guy didn't know enough and the owner wasn't in a talkative mood about that particular topic. 

Frankly, I was surprised the were selling rum agricole because there are no sugar cane fields anywhere close to this distillery.  They also don't ferment onsite. 

It appears to me that they are contracting with a remote brewery or distillery somewhere located next to sugarcane production to make their rum wash.  But again I am guessing here.  That would seem quite a hassle, but then again I don't know how else they are doing this.

Ideas?

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50 minutes ago, richard1 said:

So it begs the questions .....

1  If you used the boiled down sugar cane juice into mollasses and proceded from there, would you still get the same "funk" rum flavour as you would from a sugar cane juice fermentation.

2.  Which gives the better final product flavour .... juice or mollasses version as above

 

I ask these questions because I have been recently looking at rum from sugar cane juice and have been pondering about logistics as I am a days drive away from sugar cane juice areas.

Richard,

 

I'm not sure.  I only know about making rum from molasses and cane sugar.  Can sugar cane be grown in your area?

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36 minutes ago, Patio29Dadio said:

Great story Southernhighlander.   If I fly-drive down to pick up my equipment, you have time for a cocktail or two and a cigar?   I have a feeling you have a few more of these stories tucked away!

Sure, you bet!

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Try some panella sugar.

I am considering planting a couple acres this year in cane myself just to play with. I have a friend with a grinder that grows cane and makes syrup. Supposedly the agricole style rums have a nice grassy note.

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20 hours ago, richard1 said:

boiled down sugar cane juice into mollasses

Just so we're clear, boiled down cane juice isn't molasses, it's, well, closer to "evaporated cane juice" 

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Cut Cane - Juice - Syrup processing within ~24 hrs - commercial Sugarcane Mills target 16 hrs.

Cut Cane & use a Heavy Duty Garden Shredder/ Mulcher & then a 3-Roller Mill (or hydaulic wine press) to extract juice.

Unless you scrub cane clean - juice will be very dark & dirty.

Next step is Fine Screening Filter prior to  Mix Juicer - Holding tank at 78c for 1 hr with Lime added to pH of 7.8-8.0 to break down natural cane fibre starches with cane amylase.

Clarify your juice with a food grade flocculant to settle out the Mill Mud.

You then need to evaporate the water off the juice (SugarCane is ~70% water/ 15% Fibre 15% Sugar). Vacuum Evaporator is the best way to go here to increase Brix from ~15-16 of Juice to ~60 of Cane Syrup.

If you want an Agricole style product - just filter the juice & let wild ferment or add in your yeast.

If you want Cane Syrup for a Rum Fermentation than the above process is just a 'snapshot' of the reality of Commercial Sugarcane processing & Cane Syrup Production.

Panela/ Muscovado/ Pilloncillo/ Rapadura are all essentially dry Massecuite - boiled, unrefined raw sugar syrup. SugarDaddy on here is your man for Panela.

How do I know this - I do all of the above every day including the Farm to Barrel process of Rum & Agricole production in Australia - including Crushing/ Juicing/ Syrup/ Fermentation/ Distillation/ Barrel Management.

Happy to assist.

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22 hours ago, indyspirits said:

Just so we're clear, boiled down cane juice isn't molasses, it's, well, closer to "evaporated cane juice" 

  Molasses is made by boiling down cane juice to concentrate and cristilizing the sugars.  I helped make it many times as a kid.  I had to help do a lot of things even make whiskey as a teenager.  If you didn't hop when my dad said jump he would put a boot upside your ass.

If I remember correctly,  First boil yields cane syrup. The second Boil yields Molasses and the 3rd boil yields Blackstrap.  

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If you want the volatile flavors from fresh cane - the inherent grassy, forest aroma of fresh sugarcane, then only fresh sugarcane will do. If you want a caramelly rum, use Molasses.

Fresh sugarcane will certainly require more processing. It depends what you value.

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Really nice comments coming out.

 

Here in South Africa, the farmers first burn the cane fields and then harvest within 24hrs for immediate delivery to the mills.  The rum guy I visited, indicated that it takes 3,000kg cane to produce 750L juice.  The cane he hammer mills and then uses an almighty piston press for the juice.

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Approx 120-150L Clean clarified Cane Juice extracted from 1000Kg/ Metric Tonne of Fresh harvested Cane - that is using a First-Press 3 Roller Mill with ~70% efficiency.

Hammer Mill/ Shredder/ Mulcher pre Mill would increase up to perhaps ~90% extraction.

Lacto infection abounds in a Cane Crush/ Juicing Mill.

 

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   I never would have thought that it was possible to grow sugar cane in the Great Smoky Mountains ...

 

  Anyways thanks for all the answers everyone !

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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

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Also worth noting - unless I'm misreading the question- that the Fed definition of Rum is cane or cane products only.

Molasses, sugar, juice all work for their own, but other stuff in the mix turns it into DSS or another category.

And thanks Southern and Curators for the expanded knowledge, another reason I like this forum

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It's my understanding that rum made from sorghum molasses is much better than rum made from Blackstrap.  Anyone have any input on that?

 

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Ohh I see, as per the TTB you cannot make rum from sorghum molasses.  I've learned a lot of stuff on here over the years. I guess instead of Rum I will be making sorghum molasses whiskey😊

 

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I think that the thing that really confused me was the nomenclature.  Having grown up in a place were everyone called sweet sorghum, sugar cane and the syrup made from it molasses. I never knew there was a difference.  Of course, it was not something that interested me once I was a teenager, but white cornbread with my grandma's home made butter and molasses was really good.

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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. 

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