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The art of rum production

Sugar cane
Rum production begins with the planting of sugar cane. Following an arduous harvesting process, the sugar cane stalks are placed in a press to yield their natural syrup. This syrup is then boiled several times over, in a purification process. The crystallized sugar (for other purposes) is extracted and the sweet, sticky residue that remains is known as molasses. Molasses are used as the basis for all El Dorado Rums. Even in the early stage, Demerara Distillers puts quality first; the more pure the molasses, the higher quality the rum that can be made from it. At the Demerara Distillery, rum is produced strictly from molasses obtained from the local sugar factories.

The molasses are then diluted with water and injected with yeast. This liquid, referred to as “mash” undergoes a fermentation process in which the sugars present in the mixture are transformed into alcohol and carbonic acid. The liquid resulting from this fermentation is “beer” that will later be heated in the stills. The fermentation process takes approximately 22 – 24 hours to be completed.
The climatic conditions in Guyana are ideal for fermentation. The yeast responsible for fermentation functions best between the temperatures 28 – 32 degrees C. Under these conditions, fermentation is rapid and volatile and any impurities formed during the process are easily vented to the atmosphere. The resulting alcohol in the “beer” is therefore free from these substances and a clearer product is distilled off.
For here is where the distillation process begins.

Distillation process
A variety of unique stills are being operated by Demerara Distillers. These stills all originate from different estates and are now all centralized at the Demerara Distillery located at Diamond.

Wooden (Coffey-type) Continuous Still - Enmore
The continuous still used by Demerara Distillers is a wooden still. In a continuous still the “beer” is added to the top of the column, while steam is injected at the very bottom. This simultaneous process allows the alcohol vapors to rise to the top of the column and to condense to rum, this all in a relative short time frame. The wooden still was first located at the Enmore Estate and later moved to the Diamond complex.
The Enmore still is the only operational wooden continuous still in the world today.
Rum experts attribute the uniqueness of the Demerara light rums to this wooden still.
It produces a distinctive spirit, not quite like either light or heavy rum.

Wooden Pot Stills – Port Mourant and Versailles
The pot stills used by Demerara Distillers are wooden pot stills. In a pot still a quantity of “beer” is put into the pot and boiled. The vapors that are released as a result of the boiling are trapped in the condensers and condensed to rum, this all in small batches and in a long time frame.
Demerara Distillers operates both a single and a double wooden pot still.
The single wooden pot still was first located at the Versailles Estate.
The double wooden pot still was first located at the Port Mourant Estate.
Both pot stills are now located at the Diamond complex and are the only operational wooden pot stills in the world. They produce very heavy bodied, very flavorful and very aromatic rum. The wood of the still lends additional unique flavors to the rums.

Other Stills
The Demerara distillery also boasts the ability to produce nine completely different types (marks) of rum on the very versatile Savalle and Coffey stills, a feat which no other distillery can boast. The rums coming off of these stills vary from the very light to the heavy bodied flavored rums.

El Dorado Rum - time to mature
Now comes the time for ageing in which El Dorado rums quietly develop their distinct character. The colorless rum is taken from the still and placed in oak barrels where it is then stored in an ideal and natural atmosphere for at least several months. In case of Special Reserve rums, this storage can last years. The oak barrels may be as old as fifteen years and come from the US, France or Canada where they were already used to age bourbon, whisky, wine or cognac.  While ripening in the barrels, the rum gains its dark color while losing some of its alcohol content through evaporation, the so called angel’s share. The rum grows milder every year while becoming more sophisticated and full-bodied.

El Dorado Rum - The art of blending
Once the ageing process is over, the experienced nose and palate of the Master Blender enters the game. He mixes various rum types and vintages of varying alcohol levels together. This blending lends the rum is character and individuality.
Imparting older rums with their own note is a particular pleasure for the Master Blender.