Introduction: Making Rum From Scratch

Picture of Making Rum From Scratch

Making rum from scratch using molasses and sugar.

I wanted to make some rum so that I could make my own Captain Morgans Spiced Rum

you will need

1 x 25L fermentation vessel

a long spoon, you can get these from homebrew shops

yeast nutrient, you can substitute tomato puree for this if you have trouble getting hold of yeast nutrient.

4kg of molasses (blackstrap for choice) you can get this from ebay, horse feed molasses is perfect provided it has no additives, cost me about £10 from eBay

4kg white sugar

2 x 5g packets of EC-1118 Yeast, you can buy this online by a company called lavlin

a thermometer, I got a cheap digital one from eBay for about £2

kitchen scales

a kitchen jug

some glass jars

and a big bucket or demi john to store the results.

and a pot still, I built my own here is the instructable

Step 1: Disolving the Sugar

Picture of Disolving the Sugar

making sure you sterilize your equipment before you start, pour a couple of kettles full of boiling water in to your fermentor.

add a bag at a time of the sugar, stirring as you add it in, keep stirring until its all dissolved then add the next one and do the same, keep doing it until all the sugar is dissolved.

add in another kettle full of boiling water for good measure.

Step 2: Adding in the Molasses

Picture of Adding in the Molasses

Ok now we need to weigh up and add out molasses, do this 1 KG at a time and stir it in to the mix as you go.

top it up to about the 23L line with cold water

add in about 25g of yeast nutrient.

Step 3: Adding the Yeast

Picture of Adding the Yeast

so now we have 23L of wash ready we need to sort the yeast out.

once the temperature gets down to about 28 degrees C, fill a jug with some of the mix.

add in your 2 packets of EC-1118 Yeast and mix it in, then leave it for half an hour, come back every so often stir it.

once it has foamed up a bit, pour it back in to the main wash and stir it in.

Step 4: Ferment

Picture of Ferment

now we just need to ferment it out, making sure you have an airlock on the lid of the fermentor, put the lid on making sure its clipped down air tight. pop a label on it so you know when you started it.

this should be kept at between 23 and 28 degrees C for the whole time its fermenting, so keep it somewhere thats not too cold, if you are having trouble keeping it between 23 and 28 degrees c you can use a 50w aquarium heater to maintain the temprature if it drops too low.

you now need to wait until the air lock stops bubbling, which should be about 8 days maybe a day or 2 more, once it has stopped you can turn off the heater and move it to a cool place, it needs to be allowed to drop to 10 to 14 degrees C. this is so that the yeast settles on the bottom.

Leave it for 2 days like this.

Step 5: Racking

Picture of Racking

depending on when your going to distill depends on what you do with the wash now, if you dont intend to  use it just yet then you need to rack it in to another fermentor, what this means is siphon it out to a new vessel so that you leave the yeast behind.  you can put this yeast in to a tub or bottle and pop it in the fridge for your next run of rum.

or instead of racking it you can siphon it directly in to the boiler for your still, which is what I do.

use a wine / beer siphon that way you wont pick up the yeast sediment from the bottom of the fermentor.

Step 6: Distilling

Picture of Distilling

Now this is the moment of truth, fire up your boiler on half power, it will take a little longer to heat up this way, but slow is good for rum. Make sure you are using a Pot Still so you get the flavours, using a reflux still will strip out the flavours.

this part is very important, you should discard the first 100ml that comes out of the still, why are we doing this, because it has all the dangerous stuff in it like methanol and acetone. they say you can discard 50ml but I do 100ml for the sake of safety.

DO NOT drink the first 100ml, throw it away, these are known as the fore-shots, you can keep it in a separate labeled bottle for cleaning stuff in your work shop.

collect the distillate in 100 - 200 ml batches from here on out, it should be coming out at about 75% ABV (150 Proof), you will notice the first few lots are very strong in flavour, these are known as the heads.

what comes out after that is the Hearts, the middle of the run and this is the bit we want, keep an eye on the ABV using a Hydrometer for spirits it should remain between 75% to 60% once it starts to hit about 50% I would start keeping it separately, these are called the tails. if its clear in colour then you could add them in to the main batch if its starting to go cloudy don't add them, keep them separate.

now its up to you, you could add in the heads to the main batch if you want a stronger flavour.

you should end up with around 3 and a half liters of about 75% distillate (white Rum)

Step 7: What to Do With It Now

Picture of What to Do With It Now

ok so you now have some high proof rum, before you drink it you need to water it down to about 40% ABV or 80 Proof here is a calculator to help with this

once its watered down you can drink it in your fav cocktail.

what you have now is a white rum, if you want a gold rum or a dark rum then you need to age it using charred oak sticks, have a look at aging here

you could even turn it in to a Spiced Rum like Captain Morgans Spiced Rum here is the method I used to do this and it works really well and tastes amazing.

I made up the recipe on that page and added it to 750ml of 40% ABV (80 proof) White rum, and it was amazing.

Step 8: Oaking

Picture of Oaking

Ok so due to the popularity of this instructable I thought I would add this part that I have done this evening.

Gold and dark rum is aged in old whiskey or bourbon barrels which are charred on the inside, sometimes they use new charred barrels as well.

why do they do this? well when you put a spirit in a charred barrel it absorbs the flavors and sugars from the oak.

we can do this our selves without a barrel by using oak chips / sticks which you can buy from wine making stores or eBay.

all we need to do is toast the sticks first this will caramelize the sugars in the wood, now the flavor you get from it depends on the temp in which you toast the wood. have a look at the diagram that I got from

I'm going to use this for my spiced rum which needs the vanilla flavors, so I need to toast my sticks at about 400 degrees F which is about 204 degrees C so I preheat my oven to that temp.

Now while that's heating up I wrap up the sticks in foil and once the oven is hot enough I pop them in the middle of the oven. I checked it after 1 hour and it didn't really seem very toasted but i did get a burst of vanilla when I opened the packet, I left them in for another hour and then took them out and they looked nicely toasted.

Now I don't know what flavor is going to be best, toasted or charred so as an experiment I weighed and divided the sticks and then using a blow torch on low I charred up half of the sticks, char them do not burn them, remove the blow torch after a few seconds and blow out any flames, once you have charred one side turn them over., I put the charred in one bottle and the toasted in the other bottle with 1L of 60% ABV Rum.

you don't want to age Rum or any other spirit at a higher ABV than that otherwise it could spoil the taste, if your spirit is higher than this then water it down.

I mark up the 2 bottles with dates as well and I will leave them for about 1 month which should be enough time for them to pick up the flavors, also its important to shake them often, every day if possible.

and thats it really once I have the flavor I want I would just strain out the chips and put it through a coffee filter for the small pieces and its done.


Antz0711 (author)2018-01-13

i heard cane sugar is best to make rum with ? ive never made any alcohol but im very interested in doing so and want to give this a try

Nelio Darkyn (author)2017-07-24

Question: I followed this recipe pretty close, but had my rum come out brown when distilling. Faulty still? Distilled to hot? Thoughts?

n1cod3mus (author)Nelio Darkyn2017-07-25

I have never experienced that, could be a dirty still, I clean mine before every run. it could also be running it too hot, but it shouldn't be brown it should be clear don't get impatient when heating the still up and whack the temp up to get it to boiling point just put it on a decent level that's not too high and wait for it to get to temp that may help too.

Nelio Darkyn (author)n1cod3mus2017-07-25

Thanks for getting back to me! I figured out it was an issue with "puking". Turned down the heat, reloaded the still, and was pulling clear distillate. Question though: the distillate I got was really low proof (only 20 proof). Any ideas? Need to run the still at a lower temp? It's also a smaller still (2 Gallon), which could make a difference?

n1cod3mus (author)Nelio Darkyn2017-07-25

i forgot about puking, good catch ;-) ok so if its puking and then you turn it down and it doesn't puke but your proof is low then your still is too full, simple. either run less at a time or have a bigger still to do the whole batch. either way you will be able to run it at a higher temp to get a higher proof however you don't want to comparmise the taste for the proof so bare that in mind.

Nelio Darkyn (author)n1cod3mus2017-07-25

Good to know! I'll try with a smaller batch. Out of curiousity, what temp (boiler side) do you aim for to start? I know the temp increases as you distill, but I've heard 174 degrees F is a good start?

n1cod3mus (author)Nelio Darkyn2017-07-25

i'm in the UK so i work in C like the rest of the world ;-) but I honestly don't remember it was a long time ago I ran these experiments.

Nelio Darkyn (author)n1cod3mus2017-07-25

Fair enough! I think I'm going to switch to metric for distilling...

Running it now at 80C, and it's smelling good!

Howey17 (author)2017-07-15

Just wondering do you use a hydrometer for the start or finish for this recipe/

n1cod3mus (author)Howey172017-07-16

yes alway keep an eye on it when its running

Howey17 (author)n1cod3mus2017-07-16

OK thanks I have an SG of 1.040 and its been 8 days and seems finished what do you suggest?

n1cod3mus (author)Howey172017-07-16

if the airlock has stopped bubbling its probably finished so I would run it. I assume you followed my reciepe to the letter?

n1cod3mus (author)n1cod3mus2017-07-16

the other option is it could be too cold for the yeast to finish working or too warm.

Howey17 (author)n1cod3mus2017-07-16

ok thanks I did use tomato paste instead of nutrient and in measuring out the molasses I went a bit over so that could be it. Put a second batch on with exactly your instructions including the yeast nutrient so that one should be better

MichaelT494 (author)2017-06-17

Have you ever aged it with almonds or pecans? I had this in a pub once and it was amazing but have never seen it since.

n1cod3mus (author)MichaelT4942017-06-18

no can't say I have

DBlaser (author)2017-02-05

Could you use raisins in place of the yeast nutrient?

n1cod3mus (author)DBlaser2017-02-05

probably not a good idea, Raisins have yeast inside them which could infect the batch. I have used Tomato paste as a yeast nutrient in Sugar washes, no reason you couldn't do the same here.

DBlaser (author)n1cod3mus2017-02-05

Okie dokie.

I've heard of others using raisins as a yeast nutrient, and I thought raisins go well with rum, so it might be a good match.

MartinTeefy (author)2017-01-30

Can i still make the rum with a reflux still even though you say it strips the flavour, I have the T500 for making Vodka and it cost quite a bit and I do not want to have to buy the alembic pot still attachment. Unless the making of your still is really cheap?

n1cod3mus (author)MartinTeefy2017-01-30

I would recommend using the correct attachment, however if you can run the still in such a way that it doesn't reflux then you may get away with doing that. this could be controlled by increasing the flow out of the still, removing packing in the column and controlling the temperature.

MartinTeefy (author)n1cod3mus2017-01-31


Thanks for the reply, much did your still cost to build as the keg can handle both stills?

Do you make them to sell? If so how much?


n1cod3mus (author)MartinTeefy2017-01-31

I dont make them to sell.

the keg new was £72 at the time and probably spent another £60 on copper parts and other bits.

Epipsychidion made it! (author)2016-12-26

Great Instructable! I have recently run my own rum based off of this recipe, but not verbatim - no sugar fortification, pure molasses. Have it aging at the minute on oak, and boy is it smelling good!

lennolius (author)2016-11-16

Thanx for the info!

- When you install the aquarium heater, I suppose the electric cable has to come out of the lid in an air-tight way? Suggestions on how doing so?

- What about using Rum-yeast like this. Will 10g suffise like you suggested with you yeast?

Thanx again!

n1cod3mus (author)lennolius2016-11-16

i used hot glue to seal the hole

yes that yeast will be fine, using a different yeast will just produce a different flavor profile.

lennolius (author)n1cod3mus2016-11-16


killerbeans4001 (author)2016-10-31

Any word on what worked best yet- toasted or charred?

FrancescoB52 (author)2016-10-04

Take a look to this old patent on how accelerate aging:

I tried and work very well. I use graphite felts to have large surface area of electrodes.

AntonioA114 (author)2016-09-24

I made it but flavour was not good. How can I improve the flavour of Rum.

n1cod3mus (author)AntonioA1142016-09-24

Another thing is to discard the heads, that's where the bad flavour is. You want to capture the hearts and the stop running when you get to the tails

n1cod3mus (author)AntonioA1142016-09-24

Run it slower, it should slowly drip out not run out like a stream, if your running it too fast it will strip the flavour out of it. If you have followed the instructions with the correct amounts then it's down to running it too fast or your still head is too tall and its refluxing. You should be using a pot still for rum.

home-experimenter (author)2016-07-23

Absolutely wonderful instructions - clear, concise, user-friendly and reassuring. Many thanks :)

smokeyhowle (author)2016-04-09

Great steps thanks. I've done this twice now, lovely rum, however my hydrometer has never read anywhere near 75%, the last batch started at around 60%. It bubbles perfect for 10 to 12 days and slowed to few bubbles. Why is the strength so low?
I'm using a 10 litre copper pot still. Careful to not allow any leaks.
Thanks for any help.

n1cod3mus (author)smokeyhowle2016-04-09

60% is ok coming out of the still, it just means you have more flavour, if you want a higher proof then reduce your heat a fraction. when it starts to coming out of the condenser, reduce the heat a little to reduce the flow and that should give you a higher proof.

but its a trade off, higher proof, lower taste. personally I would be very happy with 60%.

also you should ferment and until there is basically no bubbles. I think also if you are throwing in some of the heads from the previous batch then you are going to get more out as well.

smokeyhowle (author)n1cod3mus2016-04-09

Ahh that's great, It has been a great taste so not so worried now about strength, great idea about throwing heads in, I obviously can only distill 5 litres at a time so can through heads into next 5 litre batch. Wonderful instructable thank you so much.

macstill (author)2016-02-12

Can I use jack daniels wood chips to age my rum? I seen some at canadian tire in the grilling section.

n1cod3mus (author)macstill2016-02-12

yes you can

ksofm (author)2015-12-10

I have a 58 2/3 Liter keg, what is the maximum amount I can safely put in to distill the rum? without using a thumper or slobber knocker. In other words, What is the most YOU would run?

n1cod3mus (author)ksofm2015-12-10

well its going to foam up and you don't want it to puke in to the column, I would only half fill the keg just to be safe so about a 30L wash would be all I would do at one time.

wilkinsonaw (author)2015-12-03

if you added a thumper then filled it with coffee do you think you would get a coffee flavored rum.

n1cod3mus (author)wilkinsonaw2015-12-03

probably, but what you would normally do is add coffee essence to the rum after you have distilled it.

and the flavour would be weak if you had it in the thumper, best to add it later ;-)

wilkinsonaw made it! (author)2015-11-28

I've run my first batch. looks good. tastes strong. thanks for the good info and feed back. just got to add the chips and age it now.

n1cod3mus (author)wilkinsonaw2015-11-28

nice good and strong, use the chips with caution, if you put too many in it can effect the flavour if you are using charred chips. for a good flavour leave it to age for as long as possible try to aim for a year or more, so you might want to make a few batches and stagger them so you always have a good supply of rum ;-)

also if you can use glass bottles to store the spirit in, you don't want to get plastic flavours in the rum. I use 4.5L glass demi Johns for wine making, you can get them from home brew shops or they are cheap at boot fairs.

wilkinsonaw (author)2015-11-22

do you think its worth running a cleansing agent to separate the yeast from the wash. or will just letting it settle in a cool place do the job

n1cod3mus (author)wilkinsonaw2015-11-23

just let it settle in a cool place, it separates perfectly

wilkinsonaw (author)n1cod3mus2015-11-23

Thanks for the advice

wilkinsonaw (author)2015-11-22

by the way thankyou for producing such easy to read step by step guide to building stills, i have found them very helpfull

TomA25 (author)2015-10-05

Reading this has inspired me to give this a go. I'm slowly building up everything i need to build my still, and i'm nearly ready to go. The one thing that's got me daunted is making cuts/ blending. I've read lots of forums on the subject and i just don't really know what to do. Would you say it's best to just collect the hearts and not bother trying to blend etc to begin with?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated :)

n1cod3mus (author)TomA252015-10-05

if you have concerns as did I about this process, have a lot of jars to hand and collect 100ml in each at a time, keep them in order.

you can then smell and taste them and you will notice how they smell and taste differently as you move through from the start jars to the end jars.

at the beginning they will taste a bit off and smell slightly wrong, you will get what I mean when you do it.

I normally collect the heads after throwing away the first 50 - 100ml which is the methanol, and keep them to one side and throw them in with the next batch and keep the hearts. also do the same with the tails.

to be honest you could just keep the hearts and not bother with the heads as the process is cheap enough not to worry about the extra you would get from reprocessing the heads of the previous batch,

I also keep the methanol in a separate bottle, i use it for cleaning in my workshop, or as a BBQ and Fire lighter ;-) DO NOT DRINK IT. that stuff will make you go blind.

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