Florida’s Key West is renowned for its thriving culture, breathtaking beaches, and laid-back vibe. However, there is more to this tropical haven than first appears. A distillery that has mastered producing rum can be found deep within Key West. In this blog article, we’ll delve into the exciting process of making rum in Key West and share the trade secrets that set it apart from the competition.
Sourcing the Finest Ingredients
The calibre of the ingredients is at the core of every superb rum. In Key West, we take pride in finding the best sugarcane, which serves as the main component in the creation of rum. Strong ties between our distillery and the neighbourhood sugarcane growers ensure we have access to the most significant crops. Other ingredients, such as yeast and water, essential to the fermentation and distillation processes, are also subject to the same devotion to quality.
The Art of Fermentation
Fermentation is a critical step in rum production, where the magic begins. After the sugarcane is harvested and crushed, the resulting juice, known as molasses, is extracted. Molasses is then mixed with water and yeast, initiating the fermentation process. During fermentation, yeast consumes the sugar in the molasses, converting it into alcohol. This transformation gives rum its distinct flavour and character.
Our distillery in Key West employs both traditional and modern fermentation techniques. Traditional fermentation involves the use of wooden vats, where the mixture is left to ferment for several days. The wooden vats impart unique flavours to the rum, adding depth and complexity. In addition to the traditional method, we employ modern stainless steel fermentation tanks that allow for precise control over the fermentation process, ensuring consistency in every batch of rum.
The distillation process begins when the fermentation is finished. The distillation method involves heating and chilling a fermented liquid to separate the alcohol from it. In Key West, we distil using copper stills, which have long been a favourite among distillers. The copper reacts with the alcohol to clear out impurities and improve the aroma and smoothness of the rum.
To obtain the “heart cut,” or the centre of the rum, our distillers meticulously manage the temperature and the distillation process. This is the distillate’s cleanest and most flavorful component, crucial for producing premium rum. Only the finest spirit is left to be matured and enjoyed after the undesired “heads” and “tails,” which contain compounds, are eliminated.
Rum manufacture requires ageing because it gives the flavours time to grow and mature. We use several ageing methods at our Key West distillery to produce various rums. Some rums are matured in oak barrels, absorbing the wood’s vanilla, caramel, and spice flavours as they do so. Others are grown in tanks made of stainless steel, which keeps the rum’s vivid and fresh qualities.
Depending on the desired flavour profile, ageing times vary. Our distillers closely watch each barrel and test and rate the rum regularly to ensure it reaches its pinnacle.
Blending and Bottling
The final step is blending and bottling once the rum has reached its desired maturity. Blending is an art in itself, as it involves combining different aged rums to achieve the desired flavour profile. The blending process allows the distiller to create a unique and consistent product that captures the essence of Key West.
After blending, the rum is carefully filtered to remove any impurities and then bottled, ready to be enjoyed by rum enthusiasts worldwide. Each bottle tells a story of craftsmanship and passion, a testament to the art of distilling rum in Key West
Rum distillation in Key West is a skilful fusion of history, modernity, and experience. Every step is carried out carefully and accurately, from selecting the best ingredients through the rigorous processes of fermentation, distillation, ageing, and blending. As a result, a variety of rums have been created that highlight the distinctive tastes and personality of Key West and convey the spirit of this tropical haven in every sip. Visit our distillery the next time you’re in Key West to see the creativity and commitment that went into making our rum. And as you raise a glass of our rum, savour the flavours and toast the artisans who in Key West have mastered the skill of rum distillation. Cheers!