Hook Rum

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Hook Rum

Postby MacStill » Sun Jul 10, 2011 6:09 pm

As posted by Hookline;


For a 60 litre ferment at 10% abv.


5 kg of raw sugar

7 litres of blackstrap molasses (= about of 5 kgs of fermentable sugars.)

2 teaspoons of DAP

20 litres of dunder (if using it, plus calcium carbonate). If not, then use 1 heaped teaspoon of citric acid.

About half the lees from the previous ferment. (Optional)

Clean, well aerated water to make up the final volume.

150 grams of dried bakers yeast.

Keep ferment around 25-30 ºC.

Vary the molasses/sugar ratio to your taste. More molasses equals stronger taste.

Vary the proportion of dunder to your taste. More dunder equals stronger taste. About 1/3 is a good place to start.

Throw all the ingredients into the fermenter, and use hot dunder from the still, or hot water, fill the fermenter to halfway to help dissolve everything, and help sanitise it all. Stir well for a few minutes. Cover and let cool overnight. Top up with plain clean water. Make sure the ferment is well aerated. Then pitch yeast straight on to the surface. Cover loosely. I don't use airlocks.

I use town water and add a very small pinch of vitamin C powder (as sodium ascorbate or ascorbic acid powders, from the health food store) to neutralise any chlorine or chloramine in the water. Works very well.


Must be preservative free (most blackstrap is I think).

Can use fancy 'food grade' molasses, if you can get it in bulk and can afford it. But blackstrap is what all the commercial distilleries and most hobby stillers use. It is much cheaper and easier to get in bulk.

Blackstrap molasses weighs about 1.4 kg per litre, and the sugar content is about 50%. So a litre contains about 0.7 kgs of fermentable sugars.

Molasses is often low in nitrogen, so extra needs to be added. DAP (di-ammonium phosphate) works very well. Can substitute 2 tablespoons of plain tomato paste for DAP. Doesn't seem to affect the taste.

A hydrometer is not much use on a molasses wash, as the unfermentable solids in molasses gives false high readings. Just go by weights and volumes for the ferment mix.

Brown, or dark brown sugar can be used instead of molasses. It will give a much lighter flavour. If using these sugars you will need to add some extra nutrients (besides DAP), as they are nutrient poor compared to blackstrap molasses.

Commercial distilleries usually clarify their molasses before using it. Their version is a bit complicated with several steps, but a basic clarify is easy to do. Add 2 parts water to 1 part molasses (by volume) and mix well. Then heat to about 85 ºC (185 ºF), give it a good stir, cover loosely, and let it stand for at least several hours undisturbed to allow the solids to settle out. Finally, carefully remove the clearer liquid from the top, leaving any solids behind (as sediment on the bottom). I have not tried clarifying my molasses, but some say it significantly improves the taste. Removing the solids may also make it easier to clean out the boiler after the low wines runs. The inside of my boiler (and sometimes my pot column) can get pretty filthy after a few runs of rum wash, mainly above the liquid line, in the head space, and this may be in large part due to the unclarified molasses I use as it may foam a lot. This puking and fouling problem may also be helped by using a teaspoon or two of plain vegetable oil or butter in the still charge of wash, to act as a surfactant for preventing foaming and puking.

Bakers yeast

100-150 grams. More is okay, it will provide nutrients. Bakers yeast is pretty good for rum. (As I recall it is usually bred up on a molasses substrate, so it is already conditioned to it.) I don't make yeast starters for rum, too much mucking around, and bakers yeast is cheap, so I just throw a whole bunch on the surface of the ferment mix and let it go.

You can run higher than 10% with bakers yeast, maybe up to 12-14%, but only aiming for 9-10% keeps any stress on the yeast to a minimum.


(Dunder is just the specific name for rum stillage or backset).

If it is the first ferment in the cycle, then just use plain water, and add a heaped teaspoon of citric acid. If using dunder, leave the acid out as dunder gets quite acidic naturally. In fact, to help keep the dunder pH from falling too far, after 2 runs in the cycle I start adding 2-3 grams of calcium carbonate to the ferment, (as Caltrate tablets, a calcium supplement from the chemist/supermarket).

My experience is that recycling the dunder is one of two critical ingredients in rum, the other being molasses. Molasses provides the basic taste, and recycling dunder is what gives rum its complexity and richness. The more times you recycle dunder, the better it gets. It is well worth keeping dunder in the freezer, or adding a bunch of neutral to it, to keep it unspoiled when you are not in a rum cycle.

Doesn't hurt to let the dunder settle and clarify, then take it off any sediment, before storing. Also probably worth doing it every few runs during a rum making cycle too.


When fermenting has finished, wait another 2 days, then rack the wash into another container. Wait another 2-3 days (or longer if you want), then rack into the still for the stripping (low wines) run. Take it out to 98 ºC, or 20% abv, (go further if you want, some go to 99 ºC, or 10%).

Recycle dunder back into next ferment while still hot.

Some do not mind the taste that bakers yeast adds to rum, and leave most of the yeast in the wash and run that. Your choice.

Collect enough low wines to fill the boiler, at about 40% abv. I find leaving the low wines sitting in a container with a loose fitting lid (such as a cheap stainless stockpot) for a week or so, to let it air out a bit, noticeably improves the final product.

For the spirit run many add some fresh wash to the low wines (typically equal to about 10% of the low wines). It adds extra flavour. The ratio of wash to low wines can be varied to taste. More wash equals stronger flavour.

Make sure the low wines are no higher than about 40% abv, and charge the boiler to about 4/5 full for the spirit run. (Fill to a lower level if using more than about 10% fresh wash, to avoid puking into the condenser.)

After boil up, I run at about 600 w (2-3 drops a second) for the fores, step up a bit for the heads (about 4-6 drops, just below a stream), then finally step up to a thin stream a bit thicker than a pencil lead for the main cut (hearts). The power usually needs to be turned up a bit 2-3 times later in the main cut, to keep the same output rate.

I collect the first part of the run in separate jars, until I am clearly into the hearts, then switch to a bigger container and empty that into the main collection container every litre or so. Once I am getting near the tails, I switch back to the smaller jars. For your first few runs, it is better to collect the whole run in separate jars, until you know the basic pattern well.

Compared to brandy and whiskey the hearts to tails cut in rum is quite late, some go as low as 55-50%, or 92.5-94 ºC. I usually cut between 60-55%, or 91.5-92.5 ºC. Cover your collection jars with a single layer of clean plain cotton cloth or coffee filters, and let them air for 24 hours (some leave them for 48 hours), then dilute small samples to 35-40% to make the cut properly.

You can do a third run to give you a triple distilled spirit, which will be lighter and more refined, though not necessarily 'better' than single or double distilled, it depends on your personal preference. Simply dilute the hearts cut from the second run down to about 40 % abv, and run it again. You can probably run the third pass a bit faster than the second.

I keep all the feints (except the foreshots) and when there is enough I do a separate run through the pot still. I do this run slower than normal, to get better separation. You could put some mesh/scrubbers in the pot column to help with the separation. The feints from this run goes into the next neutral run through the reflux column.

Alternatively, you could just run the original feints through a reflux column, with the valve wide open to get a light rum. Plenty of room to experiment to your taste here.


I use both new and used sticks of charred oak (size approx 10-15 mm square x 150 mm long). For new I use 4-5 sticks per 5 litres. Leave for a month, then remove 2-3 of the sticks, and leave for another month or so. If the sticks have been used before, then leave for longer, and/or use more of them, or use a mix of old and new sticks. I usually use a mix of new and used sticks, and re-use sticks maybe 3 times.

I have tried 'renewing' oak sticks by scraping back the surface fairly hard and re-charring them. Worked okay, but obviously there is a limit to what you can get from a single small piece of oak.

Have not tried toasted sticks yet, as I don't have an oven.

My oak comes from used red wine barrels from a winery. I do not remove or char the red wine stain side of the stick (the inside of the barrel). I think that staining adds both colour and flavour to the spirit.

I put a double layer of coffee filter on the top of the ageing container, held on with a rubber band.

After 2 months or so on oak, I filter the particulate matter out through coffee filters, take a sample bottle or two and set that aside, and put the rest into a stainless keg with a coffee filter on the opening, this is my long term ageing barrel. Some people leave it on oak for longer, especially used oak.

You can flavour it with various things, such as cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla (natural vanilla, of course), dried fruit (raisins are particularly good), etc. With some of these you need to be a bit careful, a little can go a long way, and the flavours can also take a bit of time to fully come over. Have also tried a bit of (genuine) maple syrup and that works quite well too, adds a lovely hint of sweetness and smoothness, and of course maple.

I have also macerated fruit like strawberry, cherry, and blueberry in rum. That works quite nicely.

The more dunder is recycled, the more the rum develops a deep rich flavour all of its own. These days I just drink my rum just with water and a little sweetener, and maybe just a drop or two of vanilla and 2-3 teaspoons of maple syrup per bottle.


I find that after a few ferment cycles a sweet spot about 20-30% into the hearts cut seems to start appearing, where the flavour seems kinda just balanced right. I sometimes collect a single bottle of that and set it aside without any oak, for long term ageing just as plain whitedog rum. Different but also nice.

Also, after a few ferment cycles, I start getting these wonderful smells coming out of the still during the boil up phase (around vapour temps of maybe 40-50 C), before any real amount of distillate starts comes over. They smell better than anything that comes out during the main run, but they don't taste so good, so don't add them to your final product! Wish I could get the whole hearts to taste like that smell.

Rum is pretty raw and rough straight out of the still and it benefits a lot just from simple ageing. I leave mine for at least 2 months, and it is quite nice by then, but longer is better. The commercial stuff takes at least 2-3 years of ageing (by law in most countries I think), though their cuts are probably not as tight as ours (due to commercial pressures) and a lot of that time may just be to let the rougher cuts smooth out.

I used to do the 'rum oils' thing (see Arroyo & PugiRum below), but I don't anymore. To my taste most of the stuff you are after (for rum) is hidden in the dunder, which you are recycling. Not saying there is not plenty of good flavour in the rum oils, I just didn't notice a huge difference when they were added. Might be because I tried them early on in my rum making and they had not had time to build up enough flavour. But they do not get wasted as they get re-run in the feints run.

Two things I have not tried are:

1) Recycling all the feints (heads & tails) back into the next spirit run in the ferment cycle. As mentioned before, I just store them and when there is enough I do a separate spirit run with them.

2) Using various 'rum' bacteria to enhance the flavours. Either in the dunder with Propionibacterium thoenii and Clostridium propionicum, according to Maza-Gomez. Or in the ferment itself with Clostridium saccharobutyricum, according to Arroyo

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Re: Hook Rum

Postby SBB » Mon Jun 23, 2014 7:55 pm

Please use the Hook Rum discussion thread if you would like to know more about this recipe. It can be found in the Recipe Development section of the Forum or by clicking HERE.
Last edited by The Stig on Wed Jul 15, 2020 12:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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