The Rum Controversy: Added Sugar


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It has been going on for a few years now as rum makers (and their supporters/detractors) throw accusations at each other in terms of additives. 

Sugar and colouring are the predominant additives but the controversial one is sugar. 

In my personal rum journey i have found that new release rums keep getting sweeter and sweeter.  I am not a fan of spiced rums and that appears to be 9/10 of all new releases. 

So how can you tell if Sugar is added to your favourite rum?

 

Here is a great site with over 700 rums tested.   You might be in for a surprise ;)

 

https://thefatrumpirate.com/hydrometer-tests-2

 

"Hydrometers do NOT measure sugar.

Read this to understand the data in the table:

The Hydrometer method measures a change in density and I assume that the density change is caused by the addition of sugar.

The Hydrometer method does not measure actual sugar, so it is possible that something other then sugar has been added to the rum after distillation that causes the change in density.

If the producer labels their products as rum, they are only allowed to add sugar and caramel color (EU law).

The calculation also has to rely on the fact that the %abv listed on the label is correct. If the producers has made a proofing error so the true %abv of the rum is different then listed on the label, the calculation's below will not be accurate.

According to EU law, the %abv listed on the label has to within +/- 0.3% accurracy.

Rums that's being listed with 0-5 g/L below should be considered to have no sugar added. Long aging periods (or new innovative aging by Lost Spirits Distillery) has an impact on the density. I have seen measurements that shows 3-4g/L in rums that have no sugar added. Because of that, I have made the decision to consider all rums in the 0-5 g/L range as unsweetend with sugar."

 

Barbados and Jamaica are the two countries that ban the sweetening of rum. I now restrict my rums from there. 

 

Below is a good little vid explaining the controversy. 

 

 

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Diplomatico is a good base sweetened and vanilla added, but it tastes good.  The reality of any fermentation is all sugars will get eaten, unless you stop it early or have too much sugar making alcohol that the yeast dies out.  Then in distillation how much tails do you keep running and how many times you distill.  It is an artistic science in my experience.

Short answer, never add sugar unless you are sipping or want a massive hangover.

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I think the trend is moving against added sugar in higher end sippers, beyond even that where casks are matured (Caribbean vs Europe) is becoming an issue.

https://specialitybrands.com/our-range/habitation-velier/habitation-velier/habitation-hampden-2010-lrok/

Rum afficianado's have always hated the added sugar, but the Whiskey & Bourbon crowds are moving into Rum and they don't want additives in their Spirits.

Think El Dorado recently cut their dosing in their 15, it certainly tastes different to previous bottles I've had. I would say this trend will become more prevalent as the Whiskey/Bourbon crowds increase their buying.

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Rhum agricole made under the AOC Martinique designation is also prohibited from adding sugar by law.  Other rhums not made under AOC rules also tend to not have added sugar.  

Foursquare+agricoles are the only options I am aware of that dont add sugar and provide a good amount of transparency into their process that somewhat assures me other corners aren’t cut when it comes to getting a ‘clean’ product by way of traditional methods. Similar to scotch, would also be curious about verifying no coloring, filtration that may detract for overall experience too…but I haven’t gone there yet.


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10 hours ago, mprach024 said:

Don’t like added sugar?  Don’t buy it with sugar.  Like ‘‘em sweet?  Knock your socks off.  Like it “spiced”, pour me a Cuba libre.

We don’t need Rum to go full bourbon on us.  We don’t need rules set by those where you need to have a beard or mustache quafffed just so, or wear an ironic tshirt underneath a too tight paisley button down shirt with narrow legged burgundy pants and 2 toned oxfords on your feet.  Don’t forget the ultra thick rimmed glasses and sides of the head shaved up to wear the top is super long so you can swoop it over.

Please…..hipsters…..stay away from Rum, just let me enjoy SOMETHING without it having to be over thought.  I need something easy in my life.  I like what I like, no rules, shove your rules, you already ruined Bourbon.

*exhale deep breath*

 

Ahh well, the issue is knowing what has added sugar and what doesn't. The EU just passed regs that limit how much sugar you can add to rum and still call it "Rum". About 58 of the rums on the list el pres linked too will not longer be legally be Rum at their current dosing levels in the EU.

The hipsters cometh, it's already too late.

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1 hour ago, Psiman said:

Other things than sugar are being added also. Glycerin and color to name a couple. Plenty of rums don’t add anything. 

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Only one of these I've come across is the Clement and am always on the lookout for new/different rum offerings.

Pacto Navio seems it wouldn't pass the hygrometer test well.

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i like the fact that people are pushing for transparency. if you like them sweet, rock on, but it wasn't until i learned that most rums are "doctored" that i started liking them.

the fat run pirate is an amazing resource. i've tried a bunch, and foursquare is easily top of the heap for my palate.

i like some of the funkier stuff too, in particular there are a couple of white rum collaborations that are great: casa magdalena (house spirits distillery and ingenio magdalena) and probitas (foursquare and hampden estate)

-dobbs

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4 hours ago, Psiman said:

Other things than sugar are being added also. Glycerin and color to name a couple. Plenty of rums don’t add anything. 

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After. bit of a look I now know why I've not come across many of these! The Black Tot Last Consignment can be had for $999 lowest I've found.

The others also a bit more on the high end and difficult to source. Well worth a shot on a couple of these. Ordering up!

 

 

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2 hours ago, Habana Mike said:

After. bit of a look I now know why I've not come across many of these! The Black Tot Last Consignment can be had for $999 lowest I've found.

The others also a bit more on the high end and difficult to source. Well worth a shot on a couple of these. Ordering up!

 

 

the Diamonds, Hampdens, Worthy Parks will be right up there with the Enmores and Caronis. tasty stuff!

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anyone willing to offer a good additive free Rum you can easily buy for under $120 in Australia?  
Appleton estate rare blend (12yr) around $80 aud. Anything foursquare example doorlys XO about 100 aud. The former from Jamaica the latter from.barbados. awesome rums!

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On 12/13/2021 at 5:56 PM, Psiman said:

Other things than sugar are being added also. Glycerin and color to name a couple. Plenty of rums don’t add anything. 

916B30AE-6C2F-4DA9-8710-0BCA26A48A54.jpeg

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So I was able to track down a few of your recommendations for the most part.

 

 

So I did manage to track down a couple of your recommended producers. Not same blends but worthy. Also found a Foursquare.

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Tippling the Chairman with a Diplo Bushidos at the moment. Delightful combination and no discernible added sugar.

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12 minutes ago, Habana Mike said:

So I did manage to track down a couple of your recommended producers. Not same blends but worthy. Also found a Foursquare.

Tippling the Chairman with a Diplo Bushidos at the moment. Delightful combination and no discernible added sugar.

Drinking that Foursquare right now. Damn it’s good.

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On 12/10/2021 at 1:25 PM, nKostyan said:

I know a simple test for cognac: pour a little into the palm of your hand, rub it with the other palm, wait until the liquid evaporates. If the palms are sticky, sugar is added.

The rum gets its natural sweetness from the barrel during the aging process. Oak wood contains sugar, which turns into caramel when fired. Then the alcohol absorbs the caramel from the barrel during the aging process.

remember that rum is made from molasses or cane juice. so sugar/sugar products. there might be some influence from the barrels but in sweetness terms, way more coming from the original material. 

sadly, foursquare is near impossible to get in australia. friend is the importer and he very kindly lets me get one or two of the vintage and then perhaps one each of the other releases. cracking rums. 

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