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rum-Making

“What fascinates me about rum is the deep sense of terroir, rooted in nature and culture and methods established over the course of centuries. Each country, each island has its own distinctive characteristics and I have made it my life’s mission to celebrate them with Planteray rums.”
 
Alexandre Gabriel, Planteray Rum Founder and Master Blender 

THE FOUNDATION OF RUM

sugarcane

1.

Rum is born from sugarcane. This tall, tropical grass thrives in warm and humid climates around the globe. When crushed, the plant’s thick stalks release a sweet sap. Different varieties of sugarcane have unique characteristics depending on where they grow, influencing the flavor of the final product.

Sugarcane is a sustainable crop thanks to its ability to regenerate from the root system; this allows for continuous cultivation without the need for planting seeds. Sugarcane plants also absorb significantly more carbon dioxide than they produce.


The crushed sugarcane can be refined into sugar crystals. Molasses, a rich, deep brown syrup, is obtained during this process. Rum can be made by fermenting molasses, sugarcane juice or even honey. Most Planteray rums are made with molasses, but at Stade’s West Indies Rum Distillery in Barbados, we also experiment with fresh sugarcane juice. The juice is extracted at our own Harper Sugarcane Mill, built in partnership with the West Indies Sugar Cane Breeding Station. Planteray rums from Paraguay for example are made with honey syrup a feature of the traditional raw materials of that specific terroir.

Different varieties of sugarcane have unique characteristics

Planteray rum

Stade’s West Indies Rum Distillery in Barbados, producer of Planteray Rum’s Barbados range, is the first distillery in the Caribbean to earn the Bonsucro Chain of Custody certification. This guarantees social and environmental responsibility in the production, processing, and trading of sugar. Clarendon and Long Pond distilleries, members of our sister company National Rums of Jamaica, are also certified by Bonsucro. In Fiji, Planteray’s rums are made with FairTrade-certified sugarcane.

Back in Barbados, Stade’s West Indies Rum Distillery partners with the West Indies Sugar Cane Breeding Station (WISCBS), one of the two oldest sugar cane breeding stations in the world, to develop new sugarcane varieties for improved yield, quality, and resilience. They built the Harper Sugarcane Mill, mentioned above, to provide cane juice for joint research on specially adapted cane varieties.

THE TRANSFORMATION BEGINS

Fermentation

2.

Molasses, the thick and nutrient-rich syrup that remains after sugar has been extracted from crushed sugarcane, is combined with yeast to convert its sugars to alcohol and develop the natural esters that form rum’s rich aromas. At Stade’s West Indies Rum Distillery in Barbados, the Planteray team’s Yeast Nursery cultivates special yeast strains, including those that naturally flourish in the local environment, to create the signature flavors of our Barbadian rums.


Fermentation times can vary from 24 hours to 3 weeks; the longer the fermentation, the higher the proportion of esters, and the more powerful the aromatic profile. In Barbados, for instance, both long and short fermentations are used to create different rums. For Planteray Rum Master Blender Alexandre Gabriel, these distinctive techniques are the key to developing unique flavors. He can even use high ester rums going up to 2,600 esters per hectoliter of pure alcohol in some blends!

At the end of the fermentation process, sugars have been transformed into alcohol and the “wash” is ready to go into the stills.

Techniques and traditions vary from one island to another

SHAPING THE SPIRIT

Distillation

3.
Distillation is the process of heating and vaporizing the wash in a still, where the alcohol and flavor compounds rise and recondense back into liquid form.

Hybrid still

Historically, rum was originally produced one batch at a time, in copper pot stills that created rums with a heavy, pungent flavor profile. In the 19th century, column stills were introduced. George Stade founder of our, Stade’s West Indies Rum Distillery, designed and built the first column still in Barbados, to produce a continuous flow of lighter rums.

Planteray Master Blender Alexandre Gabriel avidly collects old stills to get inspired by their design and function and ultimately, to bring some of them back to life. At Stade’s West Indies Rum Distillery, the “Pot Still Alley” is a living museum of batch stills used to distill Planteray rums, including the 1850 Gregg’s Farm and the handcrafted Hot Pot designed according to 19th century blueprints. The grande dame of the collection: the fabled Rockley pot still, built in the 1780s and painstakingly restored and recommissioned in 2023. The Rockley is officially the oldest working rum pot still in the world!


The grande dame of the collection: the fabled Rockley pot still, the oldest rum pot still in the world, restored and reinstalled in 2023 and recommissioned by honorable Mia Amor Mottley Prime minister of Barbados who said that “This, there (The Rockley), is the fact that we can take something that was dropping on in the ground, outside in the yard, and with loving care restore it to its magnificent glory is a lesson for all Barbadians. (…) It is a workers’ moment because you are the one who keeps this magnificent old factory going.”


Pot still

Planteray Rum is also co-owner of National Rums of Jamaica, including the legendary Clarendon and Long Pond distilleries where our Xaymaca and other traditional funky Jamaican rums are produced. This variety of distillation tools, and the distinct flavor profiles they create, is just part of the incredible diversity of rum that we celebrate at Planteray.


Pot still
OUR SIGNATURE TOUCH

Ageing

4.

Primarily in American oak barrels that previously stored bourbon, Planteray rums start their maturation journey in their country of origin, very often in a tropical climate where the flavor profile of the terroir is created.


The next step in the ageing process is the time-honored technique of double ageing – the signature of Planteray rums. For over three centuries, rums from all over were shipped to Europe, especially London, where they were blended and aged on the docks of the Thames and other major ports before being sold on to European customers and the Royal Navy. Planteray perpetuates this very old double ageing practice today with our own twist.

Double ageing – the signature of Planteray rums

Cask

After maturing in their tropical terroirs from Barbados to Peru and Fiji to Guatemala, Planteray rums are transported by sea to the Southwest of France, where they are transferred to ex Ferrand French oak casks. Planteray Rum was the first to revive another forgotten ageing practice with our Single Cask editions, which are treated to a third maturation or cask finish in ex-wine, sherry and even whiskey and tequila casks.

These barrels’ wood staves have the influence of the fine variety of spirits that aged inside them for many years, enhancing the rum’s flavor profile. The continental climate of the south-west of France – cooler and more variable than the tropical climates where they started – also gives Planteray rums more tannins that reveal additional complexity and nuance.

Once our Master Blender Alexandre Gabriel declares the double-aged rums ready, they go into the raffia-wrapped Planteray bottles that are recognized all over the world.

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