High Ester Rum Production with Vivian Wisdom

Often shrouded in mystery and tall tales, terms like “dunder” and “muck” are catnip to rum enthusiasts who crave the magnificent, high ester, funky rums from Jamaica and elsewhere.

When it comes to such rums, nobody knows the subject better than the distillers overseeing the production process. In the distant past, their mastery came from trial-and-error and passed-down knowledge. These days, there is still some of that. However, with modern organic chemistry, distillers can explain why seemingly unnatural acts like adding putrefied distillation waste to subsequent fermentations results in an explosion of desirable aromatic compounds.

Vivian Wisdom, previously of Hampden Estate in Jamaica, is one such modern master of high ester rum making. At the recent Caribbean Distilling Conference (aka Alcohol School),  Wisdom presented on the topic of “High Ester Production via Spontaneous Fermentation & Bacterial Growth.” For wonky rum enthusiasts, the session title is music to the ears.

The conference is a yearly event, hosted by Lallemand Biofuels and Distilled Spirits and the Ethanol Technology Institute, working in conjunction with the West Indies Rum & Spirits Producers Association, aka WIRSPA. Disclosure: I am the Community Envoy for WIRSPA.

Wisdom has graciously allowed WIRSPA to share the contents of his slide deck. It’s highly technical, and may be difficult to understand unless you have a basic grasp of organic chemistry and understand things like acids, alcohols, and esters. Some of it even goes a bit over my head, and I learned a new term “acid slop.”

Naturally some of you may have questions, but I cannot claim to be an expert on the topic. I’m simply providing the presentation as it was given to me. Also, the PDF of the presentation is intentionally not available for download.

Wed-talk-9-High-Ester-Production-V.-Wisdom

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