Spirits & Liqueurs Rum

Your Hard and Fast Guide to Why Molasses is Essential to Rum

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What's this?

Molasses, a thick, viscous sweetener, is the backbone of rum. Yet most people know very little about it. Whether you’re a rum rookie or a sophisticated sipper, this is everything you need to know to start your cane education.

What’s the deal with sugar cane molasses?

Molasses made from cane juice is often used as a sweetener in both baking and cooking, but it’s also essential in making many types of rum.

How is it made?

Sugar cane, which is a perennial grass, is harvested, stripped of its leaves and pressed to extract the liquid. That liquid is then filtered and boiled to concentrate it. (Though in the case of rhum agricole from Martinique, the juice is filtered before going straight into fermentation.) Once the water evaporates, you’re left with sugar cane syrup, or cane honey, at which point you can start making sugar or rum.

How long has it been around?

Mentions of molasses can be traced back to ancient documents written in Sanskrit, in what is now India. But its New World debut came in the 17th century with Caribbean sugar farmers, who captured the liquid that seeped out of the clay pots in which they boiled sugar. That molasses eventually became the basis of rum production.

Does it matter where sugar cane is grown?

The provenance of sugar cane is an important factor in its flavor. Cane naturally grows better in tropical climates, and rum itself ages more quickly in tropical climates. BACARDÍ® works with producers to source the highest-quality Grade A molasses for its rums.

How are rums made with sugar cane molasses different from those made with sugar cane juice?

Molasses-based rums will generally have a sweeter, more vanilla- and caramel-forward flavor, while those made with juice (known commonly as rhum agricoles) tend to be grassier and more alcohol-forward on the nose.

What’s a good molasses-based rum to try?

BACARDÍ Gran Reserva 8 Años is aged a minimum of eight years and is full-bodied with a palate of tropical fruits and notes reminiscent of winter spices. It has a long, elegant finish and makes a great substitute for whiskey in cocktail like an Old Fashioned and Manhattan.

Is the sugar cane industry sustainable?

Bacardi is committed to responsible sourcing. Working with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the nonprofit Bonsucro, Bacardi is helping to make sugar cane production sustainable by raising the standards in places like Fiji. The company also works closely with the nonprofit organization Bonsucro to ensure all of its producers are certified—a goal that’s on track to be met by the end of 2017.