1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Rum

RUM (according to Skeat, a corruption of Malay brum or bram; the adjective “rum,” i.e. “queer,” being a distinct word, in Gipsy rom), a potable spirit distilled chiefly from fermented cane-sugar. It is mainly the produce of the West Indian Islands, notably Jamaica, and of Demerara. There are two kinds of Jamaica rum, namely, “common” or “clean” rum, and “flavoured” or “German” rum. The latter is used almost entirely for purposes of blending with lighter types of spirit. Compared with other potable spirits such as whisky and brandy, the Jamaica rums are distinguished by their very high proportion of secondary products, particularly of the compound esters. Among the latter butyric “ether” (ethyl butyrate) predominates. The Demerara rums are of a lighter character. Rum has a deep brown colour imparted by caramel or by storage in sherry casks, or, most generally, by both. “Tafia” is an inferior quality of rum produced in the French colonies. “Negro” rum, which is the lowest quality of all, and into the wash for which the débris of the sugar-cane enters, is consumed locally by the coloured workers. The spirit prepared from beet-sugar molasses cannot be regarded as rum, for, unless it is highly rectified, it possesses a disagreeable odour and taste. Fictitious rum is, however, sometimes prepared from highly rectified beet spirit and rum “essence”—a mixture of artificial esters (ethyl butyrate, &c.), birch bark oil and so on. Highly rectified beet spirit is also occasionally used for blending with genuine rum, particularly with the “flavoured” or “German” rum. The latter name originated in the fact that this kind of rum was exported very largely to Germany for the purpose of blending. The general composition of various kinds of rum is manifest from the annexed table. The consumption of rum in the United Kingdom has fallen off considerably of late years, concurrently with the general tendency of the public towards lighter and “drier” alcoholic beverages (see Spirits).

Composition of Different Varieties of Rum

(Analyses by W. Collingwood Williams; cf. J. Soc. Chem. Ind. 1907, p. 498.)

Description. Alcohol
 per cent 
by vol.
Esters. Higher
 Furfural.   Aldehydes. 

(Results expressed in
grams per 100 litres of absolute alcohol.)

 1. Jamaica Rums              
  A.Common Clear”               
   Average 79.1   78.5   61   366.5   98.5  4.5 15.3
   Maximum 82.1  155  146  1058  150 11.5 30.0
   Minimum 68.6   30   21    88   46  1.0  5.0
   Average 77.3  102.5   95.5   768.5  107  5.2 20.7
   Maximum 80.0  145  137  1204  144 12.0 37.5
   Minimum 66.1   45   39   391   80  2.7 13.0
 2. Demerara Rums    71 to 123   18.4 to 75   37 to 96     0.6 to 2.7