Making Rum From Scratch




About: One day I shall own a Delorean.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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107 Discussions


Question 9 months ago

Hi, I am brewing a rum and grow my own cane do you know if you can just use molasses?

1 answer

Answer 6 months ago

Hi there.

Very interesting.

Never tried just a molasses wash but I guess it may be possible, molasses only has about 60% fermentable sugar so you would probably need at least twice as much molasses as sugar.

Molasses is quite expensive compared to that of sugar so I don’t really know why you would just want to use molasses. Anyway mine is not to reason why.

You say you grow your own cane, I know nothing about getting sugar out of cane so I can’t comment on that.

I do know that you don’t have to use cane sugar for Rum, only if you want it to be Jamaican Rum as I am given to understand that cane sugar is all they use.

Hope this helps.

Happy brewing.


Question 7 months ago

I have just followed this recipe and found that after 4 days it has stopped bubbling. It is stored in my basement at around 25 degrees. Any ideas? should I just let it sit for another 4 days then continue?

1 answer

Answer 6 months ago


I hope your have a hydrometer, if not please treat yourself because it is extremely hard to help without knowing what your starting Specific Gravity (SG) was.

I take a specific gravity (SG) reading at the start of my washes and write on a label the SG, Time & Date then pop the lid on tight and fit the water trap.

Anyway back to your question.

Firstly, make sure your lid is tight, and you have no leaks.

If you have a leak then your fermentation will stall.

If you don’t have a leak, has the temperature been stable?

Because what can sometimes happen is that the temperature drops to a point we’re you have unhappy yeast. When this happens the yeast settles at or towards the bottom. So first, just try stirring your wash and pop the lid back on making sure you have no leaks and see if it starts bubbling again.

This recipe is very high in sugars, so it is possible that the yeast can’t cope with the amount of fermentable sugars. So one more thing to try if the above fails.

Take a small jar of your wash and dilute it with warm water by at least half.

Take another jar of your wash dilute with warm water and add a little yeast.

After a short while check both jars to see if your yeast is any happier.

Adding more water will dilute your wash but won’t have an ill effect as you eventually will be distilling it out anyway.

If this doesn’t work, let me know and I will try and give you a last resort attempt for the revival of your wash.

Happy brewing.


7 months ago

Hi, I am going to follow this instructable to make some Rum. My question is at which stage do you age with Oak chips and at what stage do you add flavour. For each is it done before/after diluting to 40%??

4 replies

Reply 6 months ago

Ageing and flavouring is alw@ys done after distillation.

Your must use a pot still for distilling Rum as a reflux still will strip all flavour etc out of the wash. In short only use a reflux still for Vodka or Gin.

Go to Barley and Hops on YouTube for more info.

Hope this helps.


Reply 6 months ago

Thanks for your response. I realise these are done after distillation and I am using a pot still, but I wanted to know when the aging process is done and when the flavouring/spices are added, i.e. before diluting or after diluting the condensed liquid.


Reply 6 months ago

Flavour/spices are added after diluting the condensed product known as cutting except for Gin which must have infused juniper berries during the distilling process.

if you wish you can age your product with wood chips which will impart a flavour of their own. If you feel you need to add more flavour then add flavouring/spices as required after ageing.

Ageing by the way is entirely up to you how long you age for. The more you age the more flavour from the chips will influence the taste of the product.

You could add flavour straight away if you wanted without ageing such as making a Spiced Rum with the ingredients described in this instructable

It’s a great hobby and I find that I am always learning something every time.

Happy distilling.


1 year ago

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

1 reply

Reply 6 months ago

Although cane sugar is more expensive than granulated sugar all Jamaican rum is made using cane sugar.


1 year ago

I m wondering if you can use normal bread yeast as i have lots of it?

1 reply

Reply 9 months ago

Brot hefe ist nicht für höheren Alkohol gedacht, sie stirbt bei geringem Alkohol gehalt. Kaufe dir lieber 24 Stunden Turbo Hefe die Mag hohen Alkohol und du bekommst ca 27% Alkohol


Question 1 year ago on Step 5

Hi, can the fermented stuff be taken straight without any distillation.

1 answer

Question 12 months ago on Step 4

I am interested In making sorghum whiskey or baijiu. I would like to use your recipe and method substituting sorghum syrup for molasses and ground bean sprouts In place of tomato puree. I would appreciate your thoughts or suggestions and comments from others.

Thank you,

Nelio Darkyn

1 year ago

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

3 replies
n1cod3musNelio Darkyn

Reply 1 year ago

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 Darkynn1cod3mus

Reply 1 year ago

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?

n1cod3musNelio Darkyn

Reply 1 year ago

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.