How to make Rum? Homemade Rum Recipe with Cane Sugar or Molasses

You can find a lot of recipes of rum available online, which are based on adding essences and other flavoring substances. But these only imitate the original flavor and taste, and most times without much success. To make homemade rum, you’ll need cane sugar or molasses. Nowadays getting your hands on any of these ingredients is very simple, you can simply order it online. We’ll go over the old Cuban recipe, which is popular among the local islanders.

Blackstrap molasses is a dark byproduct of sugar production, which is used in the traditional technology of rum production. Also, molasses is used in food for pets and horses in particular.

Blackstrap molasses has a caramel flavor and dense consistency

If you don’t have cane sugar, you can buy blackstrap molasses almost anywhere. This product can be purchased in specialized internet stores for winemakers and also in large supermarkets.

Using blackstrap molasses is an absolute must if you’re aiming to replicate the original flavor of the best Cuban and Jamaican labels. But if you’re out of molasses, brown cane sugar can be used, too. The final product won’t have such fragrant organoleptic properties but the technology is a bit simpler.


About Yield. Depending on the production features molasses sugar content is 30-73% (usually it’s 50%). Knowing this index allows estimating the yield of distillate. 1 kilo of cane sugar yields up to 1.2 liters of rum, 80 proof. Therefore, 1 kilo of molasses (50%) yields up to 600 ml of 80 proof beverage. In practice, the amount of rum is always lower than the theoretical 8-15% for sugar and 15-25% for molasses.

Not all sugars (especially caramel) in molasses can be converted by yeast into alcohol. That’s why most times blackstrap molasses wash remains sweet even after fermentation is finished. Note that you can’t use the main sign of the wash being ready (the absence of sweet aftertaste).

Making rum with cane sugar is much easier, and in actual fact the process is no different from making moonshine. You can also mix sugar and molasses, as this will increase the yield and keep the organoleptic properties. It’s important to add a correct amount of water. The total sugar content of the wash shouldn’t exceed 20%.

Homemade Rum Recipe

  1. Calculate the core indicators of the wash. 5 liters of water is required per 1 kilo of molasses and 10 grams of dry yeast or 50 grams of pressed yeast. The optimal ratio for cane sugar is 1:4 (4 liters of water per 1 kilo of sugar) and 20 grams dry (100 grams of pressed) baker’s yeast. These ratios were taken directly from the Cuban recipe, which also uses twice less yeast for molasses than for sugar. It is believed that prolonged fermentation of molasses affects the smell and flavor of rum in a positive way.
  2. Boil half the water in a cooking pot. Dilute sugar or molasses in boiling water and stir till smooth. Cover the pot with a lid and leave it for 30 minutes. After that, decant into a fermentation container.
  3. Dilute yeast according to the instructions. You can use the rum wash obtained in the previous step as the yeast food but cool it down to 25-28°C.
  4. Pour the second half of the water into the wash (cold, unboiled water). Stir and check the temperature (it should be lower than 30°C). Add the diluted yeast. Stir once again. Leave at least 10-15% of the volume empty for foam and carbon dioxide.
  5. Install an airlock on the neck of the container. Transfer the wash to a dark place (or cover it) with a temperature of 18-28°C.

Factory-made airlocks

A wash made with pure cane sugar ferments for 5-10 days. After this, it’s no longer sweet, and the airlock stops emitting gas (the glove deflates). This means that you can proceed to the next step.

Oftentimes the molasses wash remains sweet even after fermentation has finished because yeasts are unable to convert caramelized sugar. The only way to find out if fermentation is over is to check the airlock. If there’s no gas coming out of it, you’re good to go. I suggest starting distillation no sooner than 12-15 days after the addition of the ingredients.

  1. Decant the fermented wash to remove solid particles, which might burn during distillation. Distill for the first time in a usual distillation still without separating the yield into fractions. Stop collecting the distillate after it has less than 20% ABV. Don’t discharge the contents of the still!
  2. Determine the ABV and the amount of pure alcohol of the obtained sugarcane moonshine (total volume times the ABV percentage and divide by 100).
  3. Calculate the amount of water which will be necessary to dilute the moonshine to 20 degrees. Add 75% of the calculated amount.

Replace 25% of water with the liquid contents of the still. This will greatly enhance the flavor of the final drink and add light hints of sweetness.

  1. Distill the diluted moonshine for the second time. Collect the first 12-15% of the yield separately. These “heads” are harmful and must not be consumed.
  2. Collect the main product until the ABV drops below 45%.
  3. The obtained distillate is ready to be consumed as a white rum. At this stage, the preparation process can be stopped. Now all you have to do is to dilute the drink with water to 40-45%, bottle and seal it, and then leave for 3-4 days to let the taste stabilize.

White rum without aging

If you want to make golden or dark rum, after all, you’ll have to add caramel or age the distillate in barrels (or with oak chips).

  1. The easiest way to shade your homemade rum is to use a homemade sugar dye. Cane sugar is the preferred ingredient for making caramel.

The recommended strength of the drink before adding the dye is 40 degrees. To prevent the whole batch from spoiling, experiment with color on a small amount of rum, starting with 3-5 ml of the dye per 1 liter. I suggest waiting for at least 15-20 minutes before increasing the dosage.

After adding the dye

  1. If hints of oak are what you’re going after, age the rum for 6-18 months in a barrel (dilute to 50% beforehand) or infuse the 40-45% distillate with oak pegs or chips.

It’s important to taste the rum during aging. If using a barrel, do it at least once a month, if using oak chips—at least once every 5 days. Bottle the drink immediately after noticing hints of tanning. Otherwise, you risk ending up with a drink that tastes like it was wiped off the floor. The time of infusion with oak chips depends from the individual properties of the wood, soaking, and roasting. It might take a few weeks or up to 6 months.

After infusing with oak chips

If stored in sealed glass bottles, homemade rum’s shelf-life is infinite, 38-43% ABV.

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