Quinine Wisdom from Morris Boris Jacobs

For a while now I’ve been searching for academic looks at tonic water and have come up dry. How could something so economically significant be so poorly written about? Finding something useful would help keep tonic water’s renaissance going. A newly acquired book, Carbonation (1959) by the flavor chemist Morris Boris Jacobs has some small notable factoids.

e. Quinine Water

A specialty-flavored beverage that has had considerable vogue in Great Britain and has had some popularity in the United States recently is quinine water. In the Soft Drinks Minimum Standard (Food Standards [Soft Drinks] Order, 1953, 1828) of Great Britain which came into effect on December 20, 1953, the standards that had been in force for “Indian and Quinine Tonic” were continued. These standards required that there is a minimum of 1 pound 2 ounces of sugar per 10 gallons, a maximum of 82 grains of sacharin per 10 gallons, and a minimum of 0.5 grain of quinine (calculated as quinine sulfate) per pint. These standards should prove of assistance in the formulation of a flavored sirup for the manufacture of this type of specialty-flavored beverage.

Another quinine water or tonic formulation contains 8 grains of quinine sulfate in a mixture of 4 pints of carbonated lemon soda and 4 pints of carbonated water, that is, 1 grain of quinine sulfate per pint of finished beverage.

1 grains = 0.06479891 grams
1 pint = 473.176 mL

So that recommendation of 1 grain per pint, metrically is 0.1369 grams of quinine sulfate per liter of soda.

0.137 g/L quinine sulfate.

Lets see how these numbers compare to numbers from Avery Glasser of Bittermans that were quoted here by Tess Posthumus.

The Numbers
Avery is known from Bittermens, a company making bitters, extracts, liqueurs and more. He works a lot with cinchona bark and discovered that cinchona bark consists 5% out of quinine. The American federal safety standard for the use of quinine is a maximum of 83 parts of quinine per million in a drink. The average commercial tonic water has 2.48 mg quinine per 30ml.

I’m not sure where these numbers came from but I wouldn’t be surprised if they were printed on the back of a bottle of Schweppes, but to be honest I haven’t looked thoroughly. 2.48 mg per 30 ml is 0.083 g/L which is far less than the 0.137 g/L from Jacobs, but maybe people were tougher back then. Numbers from the old literature give the percent of quinine sulfate in Java Cinchona as 5-7% which is inline with Avery’s 5%, but who knows what it is these days after decades of improvements.

Glasser’s numbers and Jacobs numbers are very different. I’ve never really been interested in tonic water but it looks like I need to order some quinine sulfate and attach a sensory experience to the numbers.

Prize Essay on Cinchona Cultivaton

Notes on the Estimation of Quinine

Cinchona and quinine in Java (A wildly interesting history from 1901 with spectacular photos)
British Soda History (great photographs)

(Me, in the bostonapothecary laboratory assaying quinine)

What I suspect is that cinchona added to tonic water is and has always been in the form of purified quinine sulphate. People making tonic water from raw unpurified cinchona are just far from the mark. M.B. Jacobs gives us a best bet and that is 137 mg/L.

desert soda waterStandards of civilization were so high they brought soda water to the desert battle fields of WWI. “basic equipment”

There are more gems in the book, but I lent it out before I could digitize them. So more to come!

Napa Great Tchelistcheff Posthumously for Popelouchum

[Via twitter, Randall Grahm was really flattered by the comparison. He considered Tchelistcheff a big hero because he was so hard working and progressive. I initially thought the comparison might be far fetched and I’d have to make a strong case, but apparently many readers thought it was spot on.]

Yes, I shifted the balance of varieties. I shifted already. I created a revolution. I was a revolutionary-minded man in the field of viticulture in Napa Valley. As I came in, I said, “There must be something wrong with you people, because in my European mind, you can’t build a reputation of Burgundy in the Bordeaux, and you can’t build the reputation of Rhine in the Burgundy, and you are trying to build a reputation of Burgundy and Bordeaux and Sauternes within the same geographical area, within the same soil. There must be something wrong with you people.” -Tchelistcheff p. 121

At the urging of the California Oral History Project’s associate director, I started reading André Tchelistcheff’s 1979 oral history interview. I was reading simply to learn more about the early history of California wines after having used Harold Olmo’s oral history interview to contextualize Randall Grahm’s Popelouchum project which currently has an IndieGogo fundraiser that I urge you to support. The incentives are spectacular.

Tchelistcheff, often called the dean of California fine wine makers, was brought over from Europe in the late thirties by George de Latour to help modernize Beaulieu Vineyards after prohibition. The Russian born Tchelistcheff was trained in France as an eonologist. Even in the thirties, he found California “in very primitive, colonial, pioneering shape” [p.41], but eventually turned California into the modern powerhouse of fine wine we know today.

It may be hard to believe that anyone would lump Andre Tchelistcheff, grand father of the Napa style, with Randall Grahm, but their ambitions run parallel. Just like a baton was passed from Olmo to Grahm, a different baton can easily be seen as handed to Grahm from Tchelistcheff. Grahm, after all, is a formidable Davis educated technologist (I’m waiting for Grahm to chime in and say they knew each other).

A segment that begins on page 54 starts a discussion on European and American points of view regarding ecology that relates very much to the Popelouchum project. This is all from the voice of the wine maker that launched a thousand fine wine ships and trained everyone that took a prize in the Judgement of Paris.

Big themes in the passage emerge like the difference between natural ecology versus managerial ecology [remember this is 1979!]  Tchelistcheff also describes his own efforts to find more acclimation in vineyards by launching large scale projects to uproot vineyards and replant them with different more congruent varietals. Tchelistcheff acknowledges Olmo, whom is brought up by the interviewer, but also acknowledges economic constraints that shaped and limited his efforts. Life is short and the art is long.

When Tchelistcheff came to California he inherited a less ideal Popelouchum project. California was 10,000 mixed up old grape varieties that needed attention, weeding out, and selection for advancement. In four or five decades, Tchelistcheff and close contemporaries like Maynard Amerine were able to do what happened empirically in Europe over centuries, and of course they never even came close to any kind of completion.

There are probably diminishing returns, and nothing gets easier, but the Popelouchum project of 10,000 new fine wine varietals is the next leg up. I’m sure Tchelistcheff would jump at the chance to uproot any stagnancy in the industry and possibly secure a varietal named after himself.

It was a renaissance of the industry. I mean, the country alone just barely started to recover from the damage done by the Prohibition. Everything was entirely different. Everything here was entirely new and not corresponding–neither for my thinking or feelings. See, this specific reaction that I am carrying, just for one single reason, because I am a product of the French viticultural science, and sometime even I today think, “Maybe I was wrong. Maybe my classical approach, genetically set in the classical ground of France, with a history of thousands and thousands of years, since the Roman days of cultivation of grape vine which was regulated by very strict empiric experiments and tradition, carried from one generation to another–but new continents are following entirely different orientation in the same area.”

Here, Tchelistcheff grapples with the lack of evolved congruency he faced in a the New World. Tchelistcheff is also wordier than me.

[Ruth Tesier] Were you thinking, for instance, of such genetic research as H.P. Olmo’s?


That’s right, and everything that we are doing entirely differently. But we are not alone, you see. We are not alone, because South Africa, Australia, now to a certain degree even the South America, and the Nordic countries, such as Soviet Union, they have been following the same pattern as we are following in America. We disregarded the classical principles of, let’s say, modern ecology. We are still thinking that we are far more powerful than the Mother Nature. Well, we did. We proved that the day before yesterday, a few days ago, when we started to suffer from the creation of our own. [Three Mile Island nuclear accident]


So therefore, despite the fact that they [Europeans] are as progressive in the field of research and technology, the empiric experience, by centuries, has been forcing them to maintain the base of their originality of thinking, directly connected with the soil’s general ecology, the most natural elements of mother nature. Here we are putting science ahead of it, and we are saying, “Yes, soil is very important as a nutritional element, and climate’s very important, of course, but we can change.” We are paying far more attention to managerial ecology than to the ecology given to us by mother nature. We are trying to manage the ecology given to us by the good Lord, in creation. That’s a very important factor, by the way. I am not disregarding the managerial ecology, but we are paying far more attention to managerial ecology than to the basic factors, which are nothing else but the foundation to a managerial ecology.

Extra powerful stuff and this is 1979. For decades to come, managerial ecology will rule the day and wineries will pursue trends like Merlot and Pinot Noir that defy what Tchelistcheff refers to as general ecology. Tchelistcheff then goes on to explain how the appellation system was an attempt to keep commercial trends from driving vineyards away from natural ecology. The free market just wasn’t creating fine wines.

In other words, what we are achieving right now, we are just trying to produce similar false norms as they produced years ago in France, without improving them through specifics. But this is a factor that I don’t think that we will be able to solve here within the next hundred years, because we hate any federal, state, or county regulation. We hate any additional controls. We are strictly individuals. We are accepting controls by corporations, and there are also very strict controls by corporations, but we do not accept federal controls in production in our particular field, specifically because that’s strictly an individual field.

Hopefully this passage can exist without all the context he builds up talking about appellations. The false norms are the appellations and the specifics are efforts like the Popelouchum project, or all of Tchelistcheff’s replanting that actually make strides for congruency and the quality that comes with it. Unless you want to wait a thousand years, fine wine takes visionary action. The most famous wine industry adage always is: to make a small fortune in wine, start with a large one.

Now, in basic agriculture, production of wheat and corn, as you know, they accept the bank, and they accept the norms and regulations, but we are a little too artistic, we are a little too small, and we are a little too sensitive to accept such a norm.

Doesn’t this sound like he’s talking about Randall Grahm?

But I revolted, when I came here, against this liberalism of interpretation of the law of ecology. It was absolutely strange for me to see Napa Valley planted with the varietals from Burgundy, from the Bordeaux, from the Rhine, from the Moselle, from Spain, and from Portugal. I just, even now, can’t understand this thing. So therefore, I have been constantly pioneering readjustment within the laws of ecology, and being a pioneer in the Napa Valley and leading the group of youth and some very intellectual people in the industry. We started to shift and uproot Several vineyards and move them to an entirely different section of Napa Valley. I am dividing, in my own mind, Napa Valley in sixteen different appellations. But officially, we have only one appellation of Napa Valley now.

Do not get confused here, Tchelistcheff isn’t putting down Spanish and Portugeuse varieties for California, but rather only Napa after he has seen first hand that they are not congruent. The conclusions from experimentation and the uprooting and replanting, knowing full well how long things take, are how Tchelistcheff had his own Popelouchum.

This is the conflict of my own, and I think I am going to carry this conflict within my mind to the rest of my days, because I don’t see any possible reforms in the situation. The most tragic thing to me, it’s not to see this interplanting as sins of the past, you see, there was a good reason. There was a very strong reason to do such a thing, by the pioneers.

The absolution.

After all, pioneers came here, let’s say, a hundred years ago, a hundred fifty years ago, and they located, really, paradise on the earth. They located, really, paradise. I mean the Frenchmen or the Spaniards or Italian or German viticulturists, grape growers, came here, and they located paradise–beautiful rainfall, heavy soil, moderate winters, a beautiful situation. So they thought, “As long as this is paradise on the earth, I can permit myself to do anything.” Plus, America was not a wine drinking nation at all. So therefore, the distributor, the marketing agent, never could accept the ideal of fine quality production such as is acceptable today. In other words, if I as a newcomer would say, “I am going to make one type of wine, or two types of wine,” I could not because I remember very well the days when there was a necessity to have everything in the line to have a distributor. That is, a distributor would demand that a winery provide him with many types of wines or he would not take any. So those sins are the compulsory sins of the past.

Paradise is never so simple.

But the newcomers today, rather than to clarify the situation completely, due to the financial, economical pressures of the market, are following the same pattern. The wineries that start with one or two, within the next four or five years start to create five or six, or even create a second line of products. So you see, this is an uncurable situation.

Randall Grahm has been here. The IndieGogo endowment, and other aspects of the Popelouchum plan such as direct to consumer sales are about alleviating this pressure.

Now Mr. Francis Gould said, “What we need here, to purify the quality of California, we need the Rothschilds, Rockefellers in the industry.” And I think we, to a certain degree, already have it–a certain infiltration of Rothschilds and Rockefellers, but they are also very practical people. Besides that, we have a heavy infiltration of the corporate business such as Coca-Cola, Pepsi-Cola, Heublein, National Distillers, etcetera. Their interests, the commercial aspects, definitely are not corresponding to the dreams of fine quality winemaking. So this is tragedy. It’s a sore point in my feelings, and that sore point, by the way, to a certain degree forced me to take a position of free-lance consultant, when I can publicly open my mouth and say what I think about the California wine industry, you see.

The price of so many wines is a gift. You can drink so many Rothschilds that turn their large fortunes into small ones or you can just drink wine makers of tremendous foresight and any money you give them is prudently spent and wisely invested. Then of course there are the Heubleins, but I think they are going away. There are economies of scale to be gained by being under a Heublein. They have the good intentions these days because demand for fine wines has proven so large, but they can’t hire enough people with vision. They need to see templates like Popelouchum, they have the means but cannot invent them.

Because before, when I was working for a private company, and then the corporation, I never would have a chance to have an interview like this today with you, unless I would have a p.r. man of the corporation sitting right here and controlling my answer, or saying, “Well, this we are not going to discuss.” That’s right.

Now, I jumped very probably out my program–

I should stop here but he’s on a roll.

What we did in forty years, it can be accomplished normally in Europe in four or five centuries. See, that’s what we did [strikes table for emphasis], and what was good then, it is not good any more. It would be a great error today to say, Louis Martini is going to produce only red wines in Napa Valley, and Wente Brothers are going to produce white wines in Livermore Valley, because the wines of today that are produced in the Livermore Valley in several cases are quite different than the white wines produced today with our knowledge in Napa Valley.

This would benefit from a little more context, but what he is getting at is how in forty years of hard work pursuing congruency and acclimation, by degrees they got there. This was all just careful sensitive replanting, and when Tchelistcheff said what was good then, is not good any more is still somewhat true today. Strides were made simply replanting, but the next step is fine wine hybrids.

The varietal wines were unknown then, just barely started to grow in the little molecules, you know, in embryo in some fine quality wineries such as Inglenook, Schram’s, Beaulieu, Beringer, etcerta. But they were really unknown here. It was the beginning of the orientation towards varietals. And the beginning remedy for this tragedy of the California wine industry was that Dr. Winkler and Dr. Arnerine, with a tremendous amount of individual effort, without the machinery to proceed with this effort, solved it by pushing and repeating, constantly, “You have [slowly striking table for emphasis] to plant a better variety. You just got to pull your old vineyards. You just got to pull all the vineyards that are not corresponding to the climate, reputation, and possibilities of production of fine quality wines of California.”


Maybe the IndieGogo would go better if Randall Grahm [pounded the table for emphasis.]

To a certain degree the problem was corrected, and to a certain degree it still remains uncorrected, because a great amount of wines are still produced from Flame Tokay and Thompson Seedless. They are still functionally physical elements of the industry and never should be. They should be assigned strictly as raisin or food product varieties. But you see, this is our lot. I mean, this is the whole thing. If you would go into the depth of this problem, you got to go step by step, because all our regulations, all our legal interpretations of our functions of our living with wines and grapes have been dictated by ourselves, in the self defense against the physical structure of our industry that we inherited from the past.


If you have to have a complete understanding, you should statistically, as a historian, go step by step, year by year, to understand this problem. I am just abhorring a weakness of this tragedy, and despite of my critical approach to everything I am still saying what we accomplished during forty years will put California industry on the competitive level of European industry. In other words, what we accomplished in [only] 150 years, disregarding the Prohibition, was accomplished there during hundreds and hundreds of years. But if you go step by step, there is so much to do yet.

#Popelouchum #Grahmcru

I urge you to find your favorite perk and support the Popelouchum Indiegogo.

10,000 Grapes for a New Grand Cru at Popelouchum

Recently I attended a wine maker luncheon with Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon Vineyard, where he briefly discussed his plan to produce a more extraordinary fine wine by producing new grape varieties. He currently has an IndieGoGo campaign to finance the project that I urge readers to support.

“The discovery of a new Grand Cru brings more happiness to humanity than the discovery of a new star.”
-Randall Grahm

Initially, I couldn’t completely wrap my head around the idea, but I remembered that Dr. Harold P. Olmo’s California Oral History interview was on the subject of plant genetics and new grape varieties and it helped contextualize Randall’s project perfectly. When I read most of the oral history series on wine long ago, it was one that I only skimmed. Unlike Randall, I didn’t truly understand what challenges wine faced or more importantly what was possible.

I just read the entirety of Dr. Olmo’s 1973 interview by Ruth Teiser and it may be the most exciting of the whole series (As a resource, the oral history series is epically useful). Asking Randall about Dr. Olmo on twitter, he noted that they had sat down and talked new grape varieties over the years. Dr. Harold P. Olmo passed away in 2006. [see Harold P. Olmo wikipedia for more background]

For those not completely up on the new grape varietal particulars of Randall Grahm’s Popelouchum plan, I hope to use Professor Olmo’s ideas to show that it is pretty much the only path left to make wines more natural. It is also very much feasible and has a big dormant tradition supporting it. Randall Grahm is probably the only American wine maker that can pull it off. The time is now!

It is not common knowledge, but grape hybridizing and other forms of varietal improvement have been staggeringly important to viticulture over the last century. We tend towards an illusion that varieties like Pinot Noir, consumed in the U.S., are the same as those in Europe, and that they’ve been the same for centuries, but that isn’t exactly true and a passage by Dr. Olmo tells the story of how clonal variation was noticed.

But after a few years of records and just working with these vines, one could even stand at the end of each block and look down the rows and know that the selections were different. In some cases the leaves would redden slightly earlier in the fall, and in some cases the canes would tend to arch over and others not. There were differences that were evident to even an inexperienced person. Once you had enough replications from this original vine you could see differences that you couldn’t see before. (p. 94 selecting within a variety)

Selecting within a given variety can only take a grape so far and its probably done because we are clinging to the legacy and symbolism of varietal names as well as forcing varieties into sites that they aren’t acclimated enough to. Overall weaknesses are made up for with vineyard interventions like irrigation, pesticides, fertilizers, and then even further in the cellar.

And in essence this is what I was thinking about, that basically, unless you have the quality in the raw material, all of the manipulation that you can do is not really going to improve it. Now, can you take the poor grape and make an excellent wine out of it, even with all the technology we know of? – Olmo coming to the same conclusion as Peynaud (see p.135-6)

Dr. Olmo came the conclusion that the only way to improve wines was to improve the grape and this is precisely the dormant tradition Randall is continuing. A difference is that Dr. Olmo and others were working on commodity wines and Randall Grahm is tackling fine wines which have a different set of aspirations. South African Pinotage, among the most famous hydrids, is a commodity grape and the same is true of the other enduring California hybrids like Carnelian and Ruby Cabernet. There has yet to be a fine wine hybrid used for a Grand Cru and it just may be the only path to getting there in the New World.

In Dr. Olmo’s day, California fine wines didn’t exist like they do today and there was no established demand that could lead anyone to tackle supply problems. Olmo specifically acknowledges this point and spends time smartly discussing the marketing of wine and the acceptance of new varieties. For those interested in naming their Popelouchum varietal, there are also spectacular passages on the topic. Other passages on naming reassignment, as the UC Davis teams set out to correctly identify and trace the lineage of grape varieties at the outset of prohibition, are wildly interesting. These were long term projects of tremendous foresight whose value was hard to realize at the time and the Popelouchum project is yet another one. The return on investment for kickstarting new fine wine varieties could prove phenomenal (if you have the patience of a wine maker).

Only now with momentum for natural fine wines, and under the specific guidance of Randall Grahm (who else has 300k+ twitter followers?) could the market handle new fine wine varietals and that is why the ideas have never been common conversation before. When a wine maker truly becomes a terroirist he can start to transcend mere grape varieties. The New World also does not have the legal restrictions of the Old World so there is opportunity in California to actually set an enviable precedent for what terroir in wine can actually be.

Olmo and Peynaud had no large concern for intervention like we do now. They simply recognized there was a ceiling to how good wine could be with the technological pursuits of the day and they wanted to push through it. Having seen the industry adopt uniform practices and watching uniqueness disappear, they had to promote another route.

I feel, for example, that with many of our white wines, despite the fact that our varieties are very different, that the technology is such, the cold fermentation, the way it’s filtered, the way it’s handled, that the refinement of the wine has given us a mediocrity. They’re good wines but they’re pretty much alike. (p. 137)

We now have large symbolic objections to certain interventions because we understand the environmental consequences or that they strip uniqueness we’ve come to prize. The natural wine movement has made large strides in making sound expressive wines while minimizing intervention, but advancement like recognizing the value of polyculture will only get you so far, the next step is in the nursery and the road is long.

A vineyard with 10,000 genetically different varietals might be hard to imagine for some people so lets consider imagery from Dr. Olmo’s Guggenheim sponsored trip to Persia where he encountered a unique valley of almonds:

Of course, they plant most things just from seeds, so there’s a tremendous variation. And literally, for example, any variety or any type of species you want to mention. Almonds, for example. In the northwestern part of Iran there are villages there that have literally millions of almond trees. They’re just planted all over the place. They’ll cover whole valleys. And every tree is different from every other tree. It’s a fantastic amount of variation. And somebody could go over there just about find all of the variation that you’d want to find. (p. 76)

This is all at odds with American agriculture as currently practiced. Planting from seed which creates a hybrid from two parents as opposed to grafting clippings is what leads to the diversity, and big numbers allow for the finding of synchrony to weather conditions and resistance to diseases that are inherent to a site. We typically think of site acclimation as picking varietals that will achieve adequate yields and oenological ripeness within the rhythms of a site. We can also define acclimation in terms of disease and drought resistance without intervention and this of course has a spectrum. Ten thousand new varieties gives that many chances to push for higher levels of acclimation and that is towards terroir.

For commodity wines, because of their vast scope and economic importance, finding disease resistance was of grave immediacy. Foresight and investment was needed to stave off the next catastrophic epidemic. Phylloxera was not a one off event and other diseases lurked in the vineyards of the world. No one could noxiously spray their way out of Phylloxera, the only path was disease resistant root stocks.

More than a decade ago, Randall Grahm had a run in with Pierce’s disease on a vineyard planted with Pinot Noir that has shaped his career and likely the vision for the Popelouchum project. He knows cautionary tales first hand. In Pierce’s Disease, a bacterium rapidly kills all the vines by blocking the vine’s vasculature. Dr. Olmo had done a lot work with the disease, achieving resistance from it for certain types of non-fine wine grapes. (More recently, Dr. Andy Walker of UC Davis has also immersed himself in developing Pierce’s-resistant varieties.)

Back in the 1930’s, Professor Olmo actually had a research vineyard that was at the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Veteran’s Avenue in a ritzy corner of the UCLA campus. According to the Oral History tale, the property had astounding real estate value so it was only in use for short period before being developed (in the grand scheme of agricultural time). The property was unique because Pierce’s Disease was predictably carried to the site by all the insects that inhabited the shrubs of the stately homes surrounding the small inner city vineyard. Dr. Olmo’s team kept planting hybridized varieties hoping for resistance and when they died they would start over and try something new. There was a fear that if the disease spread it could be as catastrophic to California as Phylloxera was to Europe.

As I understand it from Olmo’s Oral History interview, Pierce’s disease was the reason Vinifera grapes could not grow in southern states like Florida. This was overcome by the hard won discovery that the wild Rotundafolia “Scuppernong” grape could produce disease resistant hybrids (Supposedly Andy Walker has made more really big advancements here using Vitis Arizonica and getting non-Vinifera character to disappear). Such discoveries opened doors to grape cultivation further south that we enjoy today. Breeding grape hybrids is a powerful tool but it has never been aimed at fine wines.

Dr. Olmo’s work gives us a template and a realistic timetable of what to expect from the Popelouchum project. New vines can take almost a decade to become productive and further years are necessary to identify vines that are truly more acclimated to the site than others. This means Randall Grahm is giving the world of wine a big gift. He is undertaking a project that is clearly longer that his working life and sound financing and a community of interest are paramount to making sure the advances never disappear.

Part of being a Grand Cru is endurance. Will we be able to enjoy the fruits of a vineyard over a 100 years and many different stewards? Again, acclimation is at the heart of it all. It will take decades of experimentation to create a Grand Cru level of harmony between the chosen varieties and the land. The bond is measured by the lack of intervention in the process. A relationship is pursued that won’t be interrupted by drought or untimely rain or calamitous local disease. A bond where the site gives the grape its most extraordinary expression.

Wine and the vision of the winemaker teach us all about foresight. Dr. Olmo started projects requiring decades long commitment that helped change the world of wine. The torch has been passed to Randall Grahm whose Popelouchum project is going to expand our understanding of what is possible in our new world of fine wines. We have been given the opportunity to participate and I urge people to join in, your personal return on investment could be spectacular.

“The discovery of a new Grand Cru brings more happiness to humanity than the discovery of a new star.”
-Randall Grahm

I urge you to donate!

Rum—Distinction of Genuine and Artificial (1909)

Jamaica Rum—Distinction of Genuine and Artificial.—Real Jamaica rum contains certain aromatic bodies which do not occur in European potable spirits nor in fictitious rum. R. Micko finds that if 200 Cc. of the spirit and 30 Cc. of water are distilled into seven fractions, each of 25 Cc, the first two or three fractions will contain alcohol and the esters of formic and acetic acids. The fractions following will have a characteristic odor when the rum is artificial. With genuine Jamaica rum the typical aroma occurs in the fifth and sixth fractions. Not only can a trained sense of smell and taste differentiate between genuine and spurious rum by this test, but can even detect a mixture of one with the other.—Pharm. Journ., Feb. 13, 1909, 188; from Chem. Techn. Beport, J2 (1908), 675.

This little blurb proved popular back in the day and was published in many other places. R. Micko who the passage mentions was a well cited fermentation chemist working for the French islands.

I chose to highlight this small fragment of the rum history because it parallels some ideas that are in my Distiller’s Workbook. Basically, we can learn a lot about spirits by chopping them up. If we suspect a rum of containing significant amounts of sugar, we can simply dehydrate a few ounces of that rum and weigh the non-volatile fraction to see what’s left over. It can often be a $2 experiment. If we suspect there are non-sugar cane (or barrel) derived flavoring additives, simple distillation and separation into fractions could add weight to the argument. The sophistication of rums back then may not have been as complex as it is today, but if a rum was finished in a barrel that formerly held something like orange liqueur, the test might make that very apparent relative to the same test performed and compared fraction to fraction on genuine rums.

Cutting up and comparing spirits fraction by fraction should become standard practice in new distilleries. If we know where the congeners lie and how to manipulate their values we may be able to sculpt or blend spirits in ways people do not think possible without GCMS or being a savant.

Last year I looked at a set of papers, The Flavor Components of Whiskey, which used an off the shelf, but sort of complicated, fractional vacuum distillation technique to cut up a whiskey along various lines of its volatility (then they analyzed the fractions). This was an extremely high fidelity way to do it, but the above 1909 method employing simple atmospheric distillation in glass with no (specified) reflux column is likely to tell enough to the low involvement low budget explorer.

The Flavor Components of Whiskey confirmed my earlier hypothesis that the salient characteristics of barrel aging was the least volatile, if barely volatile, and could justify weird renderings like my DIY barrel proof Overholt or the infamous Fernet 151.

Aficionados have accused many rums on the market today, like the Pyrat rums, of fooling around and have requested stricter labels to create transparency. I’m against that. What I would love to see is some old school competitor analysis that raises flags and is published in popular forums. I feel such published questions of authenticity backed up by scholarly work are enough to be bound to that label and negate any need for overly strict legal transparencies. I see it as the connoisseurial way.

Drinking is safe enough and governments do an amazing job of protecting us from toxic congeners like lead, methanol, and ethyl carbamate. We don’t need governments to protect us from bad art and the many GRAS spirit additives that obfuscate any sense of place. We can do it ourselves. I’m completely for the pursuit of a sense of place and other ideas like authenticity, but I want to go on a journey, confer with others, sort experiences, and find it myself.

I could say more about the finer points of this technique and maybe give anecdotes of performing it brand for brand. Maybe I will in the not so distant future.

The Micro-Organism of Faulty Rum

This strange book came across my desk as I was looking for scientists that worked on New England rum: The Micro-Organism of Faulty Rum (1898) What a title! Its a whole book? (64 pages) What the hell is this all about? (There is a big punchline at the end, but if you are really lazy feel free to scroll to the very end and read backwards.)

The book was referenced in Cane Sugar: A text-book on the agriculture of the sugar cane, the manufacture of cane sugar, and the analysis of sugar house production together with a chapter on the fermentation of molasses by Noel Deerr, sugar technologist at the experiment station of the Hawaiian sugar planter’s association, 1911.

So back in 1898 this husband and wife team of researchers were finding micro organisms in rum. This confused a lot of people so they took their samples to another more esteemed micro biologist, Emil. Chr. Hansen of the Carlsberg laboratory. Dr. Hansen “confirmed our results, though not our conclusions in their entirety […]”. It seems like Hansen says, yes you’ve got micro organism in your rum but I don’t think they grew there.

Lets back track to Noel Deer:

“Faulty Rum.—By faulty rum is meant a spirit which on dilution with water becomes cloudy and throws down a deposit. The causes to which this behaviour are attributed are:—The presence of caramels soluble in strong and insoluble in dilute spirit; the presence of higher fatty acids, due to care less distillation, which are precipitated on dilution; the presence of terpenes extracted by the spirit from the casks; the presence of a micro organism capable of life and reproduction in 75 per cent, alcohol; the latter view was brought forward by V. H. and L. Y. Veley who named the supposed organism Coleothrix methystes and stated that it is extremely resistant to ordinary methods of destruction, survives desiccation, is air borne, and both aerobic and anaerobic; in certain of their publications the organism is described as multi-Inlying and living actively in 75 per cent, rum and in other places as merely surviving in spirit. The whole of the results of V. H. and L. Y. Veley were challenged by Scard and Harrison, who were unable to obtain any of the effects noticed by the Yeleys. They found, however, in Demerara rums remains of organisms similar to the one in question, and were of opinion that fauiltiness in rum was due to the first three causes mentioned above.”

So these researchers that took it upon themselves to investigate the Veley’s results only found questionable micro organisms in Demerara rum. Presumably they tried all types of rum?

Noel Deerr goes on a little more with his own experiences and describes finding fungal growths that possibly were in barrels and survived the journey to England:

“The writer thinks it quite possible that masses of the organism, to the existence of which he gives credence, have found their way into casks and puncheons, and have thus been present and alive on arrival in England, but does not think they can be called the cause of faulty rum.”

From the Introductory Chapter I:

So the problems pretty much only afflict the Demerara rums of Guyana. And there was enough interest in the problem to interest the Agricultural Committe of Guyana to spend time figuring it out.

From Mr. Harrisson, the appointed Agricultural Committee investigator:

The text goes on to report the private nature of correspondences probably regarding conspiracy theory that no one wanted to get out to the public because they would shatter confidence in the rums diminishing their value.

Its starting to get complicated. They pretty much try and salt out any chemical compounds like fatty acids that could be causing the problem. What is left are organic bodies.

Back then they were probably thinking they were in x-files territory. If over proof rum can’t kill it, what if it escapes and eats our flesh? Its also coming from deep within the jungles of the Demerara river.

Did they think it was dividing actively because they assumed it entered the rum as a single spore and grew from there into significance? And if they were able to grow it further, were they not making a mistake and growing something else similar local to their environs. We’ve recently found new ways bacteria can protect itself, such as with trehalose, and there are some forms thought to be near immortal that can grow weird protective shells that survive all sort of extremes like the vacuum of space.

So they’ve never been there. The Vely’s eventually show some statistics of faulty rum, which was first noted as a phenomenon sixteen years prior. Its hard to draw conclusions whether every fault was related to bacteria. The faults could have been due to the other categories like excess fatty acids and issues with caramel.

The samples keep coming and there are just as many that are faulty for ones that are not.

So I interpret this as they can’t get anything to grow in the rum. What they then try is to grow bacteria out of rum then add it to rum to see if they can get faulty results which is the clouding.

They go on to shoot down Harrison and the work done in the tropics for not being rigorous enough and probably making obvious errors. This is their grounds:

Death of the microbes in the rum can still cause clouding. But how did they get there?

“alleged bacterium”. At some point in time there was probably serious name calling.

They find micro organisms in the caramel used for coloring. But they are not using fresh caramel, they are using caramel that made the trip from Guyana to England.

They examine Liverpool water and find no micro organisms.

Basically it is not louching because of excess free fatty acids because some not faulty spirits had more free volatile acids than faulty spirits. Though this does not take into account the exact distribution of types of fatty acids.

They get into turbidity, opalescence, and florescence.

Harrison’s resin theory where turbid compounds were extracted from the wood is disproved because all barrels from all firms were made from the same lumber.

They break out the petroleum spirit.

They break out some optics theory.

I promise we are getting closer to the punch line.

Everything is getting complicated:

There are shreds of possibility to this:

This quote is taken out of context:

Fearing x-files type shit, they tested on animals:

Some of many closing remarks in the conclusion that they acknowledge might work against their findings:

And then they name it:

This is where they kept the beast:

Behold the beast!

Orgy of beasts:

Let’s put this all to rest and reference IRS chemist Peter Valaer, 1937:

raw meat

Long ago I tried this so you don’t have to.

Rum Miscellany

We are closing in on the capestone paper of the last 150 years of rum, the most malleable of spirits. I thought I’d share some of the interesting miscellany I’ve come across and probably later on there is going to be some stragglers that are still out on inter library loan.

An interesting article was Industrial Alcohol by James Doran. He starts with a history of industrial alcohol in America which gives a small time line and lets us know how sophisticated producers were in America early on.

Pure Products is an interesting series and if you search through it you can find wild things about alcohol and other early agricultural products. Page 578 has a great article on the Alcohol Distillation From Molasses by George M. Appell and focuses on building efficient fuel ethanol plants in the Caribbean. Something surprising is that scientists thought all gains and real need for expertise in production was on plant design and fermentation chemistry. The actual handling of the still which we fetishize today was very simple if not trivial.

Another Pure Products article on page 30, Distillery Practice and its Scientific Control by Dr. H. Lange. This article spends time looking at acidity at various stages of fermentation which people were realizing was of particular importance. I don’t think pH had become a thing yet (this was 1917?) and titration was still the method of measurement. I think I should upgrade the significance of the article and look into who Dr. H. Lange was.

History of the Coconut Tree (1825) from the Boston Journal of Philosophy and the Arts. The article spends a nice amount of time describing Arrack.

This 19th century Journal of Banking article was interesting:

“For my part,” said Tom, “I look upon New England rum as the best standard of value.”— Hereat I laughed : but Tom told me not to laugh, but to listen, while he compared certain qualities of New England rum with those qualities of gold and silver which, according to the Political Economists, fit them to perform the functions of standards and measures of value.
“In the first place,” said Tom, “the demand for New England rum, is universal and incessant, the efforts of the Temperance Societies to the contrary notwithstanding; and the supply exactly equals the demand. Every Political Economist will admit that the laws of supply and demand, affect New England rum in the same way that they affect gold and silver.

“In the second place, it (New England rum) is divisable into extremely minute portions, and capable of reunion without any sensible loss of weight or value. This divisibility and capability of reunion, Say, in his Political Economy, places first in his enumeration of the qualities of gold and silver which fit them for the purposes of money. But every man knows that any given portion of New England rum can be divided and reunited with much more ease than any given mass of gold or silver.

“The exact strength, and consequently the purity, of New England rum, can readily be ascertained by means of a hydrometer. To ascertain the fineness of gold and silver, we have to resort to the troublesome process of assaying.

“Time, weather, and damp, says Say, have no power to alter the quality of gold and silver.— Neither do they injuriously affect New England rum. It rather improves by age. You can carry it into any climate. In very cold regions, it is indeed liable to be frozen; but then it can be cut into blocks, and serve very conveniently the purposes of a circulating medium. In this form, I have no doubt, it would be highly prized by the Esquimaux. If the Abyssinians use salt bricks, as money, why should not the Esquimaux use little blocks of frozen rum?

“Molasses was once a kind of secondary standard of value with our Yankee boys. Nothing used to be more common with them than to say that they had got for their produce,’half cash and half molasses,’ meaning thereby, not molasses literally, but various commodities, of which they made molasses the general representative. In like manner, New England Rum was a kind of standard of value, and even currency, contributions for public objects being made in that medium. Of this, History affords us a remarkable example. When the New Hampshire troops were preparing to join the forces under Gen. Gates, contributions were made to defray their expanses, and among others, Governor Langdon subscribed a large sum. But how did he pay it? In gold and silver? No. He was not so foolish as that. He knew that gold and silver could be neither eat nor drunk; and, like a sensible man, he rolled out his four or five hundred barrels of New England Rum. With these, supplies for the troops were procured. And to his rum contribution we are, at least in part, indebted for the glorious victory of Saratoga, and the consequent capture of Burgoyne and his forces.”

Pretty well for Tom. When he had done, I told him that he ought to write to Professor
of the University of Pennsylvania, and Professor of the College of South Carolina. As one of them had made the discovery that “the whole utility of specie as money is its power of creating a confidence,” and the other the no less notable discovery that “money is not wealth,” I could not doubt they would duly appreciate his discovery of a new standard of value. Tom said he would think of it. He had his fears, that, if he wrote to those gentlemen, they would seize hold on his theory, dress it up anew, and give it to the world as their own, thus robbing him of honors justly his due.

This Jamaican rum factory designed in Berlin, depicted in Industrial and Manufacturing Chemistry, Volume 1 by Geoffrey Martin features a shower to cool the fermenting vats. I wonder if this was ever built because the shower seems like an inefficient idea, but if you consider the tax structure where Jamaican rums were taxed at many multiples their wholesale, there were giant incentives to improve quality. There was plenty of room to sell flavored rums at a much higher price without making a that big a different to the after tax price.

I’m dying to get this doctoral thesis by Ian Leighton Thompson: Studies on the maturation of Jamaican rum. The abstract is here.

H. W. Wiley Tells of Rum

I did not initially think there would be anything good to reference in H.W. Wiley’s 1919 text, Beverages and their adulteration, origin, composition, manufacture, natural, artificial, fermented, distilled, alkaloidal and fruit juices, but it proved really interesting. Wiley was a Bureau chemist who at one time employed Harris Eastman Sawyer who I have alleged was the architect of the modern New England rum style. Sawyer unfortunately died in 1911 so he probably only worked for Felton & Son’s of South Boston for ten years.

When considering Wiley’s explanation of rum, consider his bibliography when he gets to his present day. He and Sawyer were more in the scene of American analytical chemists as opposed to the scene of far flung international sugar chemists. Wiley also had the benefit, no doubt, of hearing all about rum from his time with Sawyer.

H.H. Cousins, Jamaica’s Director of Agriculture, is referenced, and when describing the present, Wiley spends far more time on Jamaica than he does on New England or the rest of American production. Despite discussing Jamaica, and discussing bacteria, Wiley makes no reference to the difference between budding or fission yeasts that were mentioned in Jamaican rum research 10 years earlier.

The references to Colonial America are interesting and there is definitely a point in rum’s domestic progress (which I think is Sawyer’s arrival) that divides the colonial era from the next era defined by scientific investigation. Wiley gives the feeling that he sees the current state of rum, despite prohibition, being completely modern. He looks backwards with as much distance and we look back on him, though we really haven’t come very much further. Or have we?


Definition.—Rum is an alcoholic beverage distilled from the unrefined fermented products of the sugar cane. The term “rum” is often given as synonymous with all distilled liquors, much as brandy and whisky are used in the same sense. Distinctively speaking, rum is applied only to a spirit distilled from molasses, or from sugar cane products. The sugar cane juice may be fermented directly, or the products of manufacture, notably the molasses, after the separation of a crop of sugar, are used particularly for this purpose. In fact, for all practical descriptions it may be said that rum is an alcoholic distillate derived from the fermented molasses of sugar cane. Rum may be made wherever sugar cane is produced, but experience has shown that there are certain localities, as in almost every other instance of this kind, in which the product is of greater value than in other places.

Rum is one of the oldest and most widely known of distilled alcoholic liquors. Its particularly peculiar flavor and aroma come from the aromatic volatile bodies naturally present in cane juices, produced in the course of manufacture, or formed during the distillation and aging of the product. It is evident that very little volatile aromatic substances can remain in molasses, by reason of the fact that in the making of molasses a very high temperature is reached, especially if the sugar cane juices be boiled in an open kettle. If a vacuum pan be used the heat of boiling is very much lower but the volatility of the bodies therein is correspondingly increased by the diminished pressure. Nevertheless, all molasses has that fragrant aromatic odor peculiar to this sugar cane product and this fragrant odor is preserved to a large extent to the distillate. Rum, as is the case with other distilled liquors, improves greatly on keeping in wood, and both for beverage and medicinal purposes it is highly important that the rum be well aged. The Act of Congress prescribing a term of four years of storage for distilled spirits bottled in bond is based largely on the fact that during the first four years after manufacture the improvement in the quality of distilled spirits is extremely rapid. In a country where the temperatures in summer are equal to those of the United States, the ripening of the distilled spirits makes great progress in this time, though it is by no means complete. The term “old” probably should be applied to a rum much older than four years, although at the end of four years the rum has assumed quite a fragrant and attractive character. Among the localities which produce rum of the highest character may be mentioned the islands of the West Indies, especially Jamaica.

Jamaican rum is probably the most famous of the rums of commerce. Rum is made in almost every country where sugar cane grows, and very largely in countries where it does not grow, as for instance, New England, where the rum industry was established more than a century ago and where it has flourished up to the present time.

Character of the Raw Material.—The molasses which is produced in Louisiana has not been used very extensively there for the manufacture of rum, because it is not sufficiently aromatic, or because the refinements of manufacture have extracted from the molasses too much of its saccharine contents to make it a suitable source for the manufacture of rum. Moreover, it may be said that the use of the fumes of burning sulphur in treating the juices of the expressed sugar cane tends to render the molasses unfit for the manufacture of rum. It would be impossible to make a rum, which would have any character at all from black strap, a lowgrade molasses, or molasses in which the content of sulphur dioxide had been increased to a very large amount by the successive concentrations and extractions of the sugar therein contained.

Manufacture.—The manufacture of rum does not differ in any essential particular and principle from the manufacture of other distilled liquors. In the case of rum there is one difference which is quite marked between that industry and the whisky or spirit industry in general. There is no starch which must previously be converted into sugar before the fermentation takes place. Inasmuch, as the cane sugar which remains in the molasses is not acted upon directly by the ferments, it is important that it should be changed into invert sugar before or during the process of fermentation. Fortunately, the yeasts which are used in the fermentation secrete a diastase which is very active in converting cane sugar into invert sugar. Hence, it is usually not found necessary to convert the cane sugar into invert sugar by treatment with an acid or otherwise before the fermentation begins. As a rule, the invertase secreted by the yeasts is quite sufficient for the purpose mentioned.

Time of Fermentation.—The period for the fermentation of rum is longer than that for the manufacture of whisky, and this is recognized in the regulations, which allow a longer period for fermentation in a distillery surveyed for the manufacture of rum than when surveyed for the manufacture of whisky or alcohol.

While, as is said above, molasses may be considered the base supply for rum, other materials derived from sugar cane are used in many countries in its preparation, wholly or in part. The skimmings which are taken from the boilers of the old open-kettle processes of manufacture are often mixed with the molasses, and there is also found employed in the manufacture of rum the counterpart of the sour mash process of making whisky. In other words, a portion of the residue from the previous distillation, known in some countries as “dunder,” is added to the mash. The rum which is produced wholly from refuse molasses is of a very inferior character, and the same term is applied to it in many countries as was applied to the low-grade whisky made in this country, namely, “nigger rum.” [Wiley was probably a disgusting racist person. I think this really shows the level of his integrity. The only other place I have seen this language was Herstein & Gregory, 1935. Beyond the racism there are other parts of Wiley’s writing that make you question his integrity as a researcher.]

Dunder.—The nature of “dunder” may be described as follows: When the fermented mash from which the rum is to be made is placed in the still, it contains practically all of the yeast cells, living and dead, which aided in or were produced during fermentation. The warming of the fermented material in the still produces a rapid extraction of the soluble materials from the yeast cells. These soluble materials, as is well known, are of the nature of diastases or enzymes. This whole mass, after the removal of the alcohol by distillation, is naturally concentrated and the extracts are in a more usable form than they were before. This material, consisting of numerous mineral matters and other substances, as well as the remains of the yeast cells, forms an excellent food for the nourishment of the new yeast cells of the succeeding fermentation. Naturally, the “dunder” itself does not afford any alcohol, but it stimulates the growth of the yeast, so as to produce a larger yield and of a finer character, provided the quantity of “dunder” employed is not too great.

It must not be forgotten that not only does this residue of the fermentation of the rum contain valuable qualities, but it also has some disadvantages. The “dunder” is very apt to be infected with bacteria, some of which are not killed during the process of distillation. Especially is this true of the bacteria which are produced from spores. Inasmuch as the constituents of this residue are an excellent food for yeasts, they also become likewise a most excellent food for bacteria.

The development of bacteria may interfere very seriously with the succeeding fermentations and introduce elements of activity which tend, or may tend, to produce a product of an inferior quality. Hence, as in the case of using sour mash, attention must be paid to the process of fermentation, in order that no undesirable strain of bacterial or yeast life may be produced.

Manufacture of Jamaican Rum.—Attention has already been called to the fact that rum of most excellent quality, perhaps the most famous of all rums, St. Croix alone excepted is made in Jamaica. Various grades of rum are made in this island, according to the nature of raw materials used and the processes of fermentation and distillation employed.

Varieties of Rums.—In Jamaica a distinction is made between the ordinary “clean” or Jamaican rum, and the very highly flavored product, which by way of distinction is known as “German Rum.” Various theories have been advanced to account for the difference between the “clean ” rum or the ordinary rum, and the highly flavored rums which are produced in this island. The common, belief, as has been expressed, is that the flavoring qualities which distinguish rum from other distilled spirits are peculiar to the sugar cane. They either exist naturally in the products of the cane, or they are produced from pre-existing sources during the processes of fermentation. The essential chemical difference between the ordinary rum of the Jamaican product, and the highly flavored rum, as might be inferred, is in the quantities of esters, or ethers, which they contain. The highly flavored rum contains considerably larger quantities of these ethers than that of the ordinary character; in fact, the quantity is almost twice as great.

Manufacture.—The common rum of Jamaica is made in a very simple way, which may be described as follows:

Molasses is used as the base raw material, and in the regular operation of the distillery “dunder” is used in the fermenting tanks, as has already been described. The skimmings which come from the open kettle used in boiling the product are also added to the fermenting tank. The skimmings are supposed to be particularly valuable by reason of increasing the acidity of the fermented mash. Some manufacturers allow the skimmings to stand in tanks until they become sour, while others allow them to trickle through cisterns over cane trash, which produces a rapid oxidizing effect.

In the manufacture of higher flavored rums an attempt is made to produce a greater etherification, and, consequently, a larger production of aromatic substances due to the action of microbes. These additional flavors cannot be regarded as coexisting in the sugar cane, but they are the product of bacterial activity exercised on the original materials. The two organisms which are most active in this respect are the bacillus butyricus and the bacillus amylobacter, and other forms allied thereto. These bacteria are very common and exist frequently in soil and are not difficult to introduce into fermenting solutions. They are mostly produced from spores and are difficult to destroy by the ordinary processes of sterilization.

The bacillus butyricus is an anaerobic organism and it will not develop well unless it is grown out of contact with oxygen. For this reason, in pure cane juices its action is not at all vigorous. Where the cane sugar has been more or less inverted, this bacillus acts with much greater vigor, especially if some albuminous matter be present. The extract of yeast cells adds very much to the activity of these organisms, and in this we see a scientific reason for the use of “dunder.” The exclusion of the air from the fermenting tank presents practical difficulties in the production of the maximum activity of these anaerobic organisms. Before the aid of scientific investigation was placed at the disposal of the rum maker, he found that to produce very highly flavored rum he would have to add some material to the fermenting mass, which contained, although he did not know it, a considerable quantity of nitrogenous matter, and this was applied from the “dunder” of the preceding fermented mass. The utilization of these special ferments is another reason why the period of fermentation for rum must be longer than that for the manufacture of whisky or spirits. These bacteria are not of quick action; they move slowly and they require some time to produce their full effect. Hence, the period of the rum production may be well above 72 hours without going too far.

There is a popular impression in Jamaica that good rum cannot be produced in a modern sugarhouse, using modern machinery. While some authors doubt the truth of this belief, it must be borne in mind that modern methods, which take away increasingly large quantities of sugar, must, of necessity, diminish the fermenting value of the molasses, and add thereto, proportionately, very much larger quantities of foreign matters than in the style of molasses formerly made. It is perfectly reasonable to suppose that improved machinery would result in a depreciation in the character of the product.

Further Divisions of Rum.—Jamaican rums are further divided from a commercial point of view, into three classes, namely:
1. Rums for home consumption.
2. Rums for export to England.
3. Rums for export to the continent of Europe.

Although rum is one of the principal products of Jamaica, fortunately it is not consumed in very large quantities at home. The statistics show that the local consumption of rum does not much exceed a gallon per head per annum. The citizen of Jamaica cannot be regarded as an inveterate rum drinker. While this is regretted from the point of view of inland revenue, it is a matter of congratulation from the point of view of temperance in the use of all things.

In Jamaica, as in other countries, the introduction of the manufacture of pure spirit has opened the doors for mixing native rums with neutral spirit, and as this is cheaper than making rum in the old-fashioned way, it is not at all surprising that the consumption of these mixed articles has practically driven the consumption of old-fashioned straight rum out of the market. As has been stated by Mr. H. H. Cousins, Government Analyst for Jamaica.

The high-class trade in old rums of delicate softened flavor, which were formerly so highly thought of by the planters and moneyed classes, has largely disappeared, and it would probably be most difficult to obtain a choice mark of an old rum, which has not been blended, from any spirit merchant in Jamaica today.

In regard to the second class, which is intended for shipment to England, it may be said that the same manipulations during the last few years were tried with this class. To such an extent was the manipulation carried, especially after reaching England, that the Jamaican Government sent a special representative, Mr. Nolan, to London to protest against the adulteration of Jamaican rum and see if he could not re-establish the trade in the genuine article. Mr. Cousins refers to the rums of class two, as follows:

The rums of the class to which I now refer, and which constitute the bulk of the rum exported from Jamaica, represent the type of spirit which Mr. Nolan is seeking to advertise, and to protect from fraudulent adulteration, and from the competition of spurious Jamaica rum in the United Kingdom.

The rums of this class are produced by a slower type of fermentation than those intended for the local trade. Some of the best varieties are produced by fermentations in ground cisterns, slightly flavored by the addition of some soured skimmings to the fermented materials. These rums are very rich in ethers, being hardly less than 300 parts of ethers per 100,000 parts of alcohol, and sometimes a great deal more.

Class three rums are intended for consumption on the continent of Europe. The trade in Jamaican rum has been long established on the European continent. This trade has largely declined in recent years, and is, doubtless, due to the adulteration of the article with molasses spirit and other substances, which so depress its character as to make the beverage unpopular. Another reason which has tended to diminish the consumption of Jamaican rum is the extremely heavy duty imposed upon it in Jamaica. This, in connection with the lower rates of duty on alcohol, has rendered the competition of the artificial with the imported article, even with its fine flavor, very keen.

The rums exported to Europe are commonly those already described as German-flavored rums. Not only are these rums treated as has already been described, with “dunder” and under special circumstances, but the period of fermentation is very much prolonged, reaching sometimes as high as 15 or 20 days. The fermentation takes place slowly, under very acid conditions, the acidity being produced by the addition of soured skimmings, or by the slow process of fermentation to which the mass is subjected.

If the ordinary rum shipped to England may be said to contain about 300 parts of ethers to 100,000 parts of alcohol, the German flavored rums will contain practically double that amount, namely, from 600 to 700 parts. It is readily seen that they are very aromatic and are considered the very highest flavored rums of commerce. Some of these very fine rums have been found to contain as high as 1,500 parts of ethers per 100,000 parts of alcohol. These ethers are those of the coordinate alcohols, namely, acetic ether, derived from ethyl alcohol, and the ethers derived chiefly from the higher alcohols, such as butyl, propyl, and amyl.

Differences in Flavor.—All of these three classes above mentioned vary in flavor. It is said that there are no two plantations in Jamaica which produce rum of the same flavor. The output of rum from each place is influenced by the peculiar bacterial flora of that place, and by the methods employed in fermenting and distilling.

Rum is, of all kinds of distilled alcoholic beverages, the most fragrant, and makes the greatest mass effect upon the olfactory nerves. Only connoisseurs of the highest character can pick out the shades of flavor to a certainty, but no one would be misled in respect to the character of the goods, as a rule, even if he were not a connoisseur.

It is a material of this character, so highly flavored, which is so valuable in the stretching of rums; that is, by mixing them with spirits made from any given source, and thus using the genuine article merely as a flavor to the whole mass. The legitimate trade in rum has almost been destroyed, it may be said, by this system of admixture and adulteration.

The above data show in striking contrast the difference between the “common” or “clean” rums of Jamaica, and the flavored rums or those made carefully with “dunder.” There is little difference, as is seen, in the alcoholic strength, the salts, the total acids, the higher alcohols, the furfurol, and the aldehydes; the great difference is in the volatile acids and the esters. It is easy to see that the flavoring matters must belong chiefly to those two classes.

Rum in Guadeloupe.—The French name “Rhum,” and also the name “Taffea” is applied to the alcoholic products obtained by the fermentation and distillation of the juice of the sugar cane, and of the molasses produced in the factories making sugar cane, in Guadeloupe. The name “rhum” in this island is particularly applied to the product obtained by the distillation of the juice itself, and the name “taffea” to the product having molasses as its origin. These different usages of the term are not absolute, and especially in France the term “rhum” is applied to “taffea” which has been stored some years in the cask. Unhappily, in France it is usually mixed with industrial alcohol before it reaches the consumer, or worse still, some artificial product is sold under its name, a product made with artificial essences and with industrial alcohol and the whole colored with caramel.

The true “rhum,” that is, the beverage made from the juice of the sugar cane in Guadeloupe, never reaches France, although its manufacture is a very important item in the island. It is practically consumed in the home of its production. The “rhum” made from the sugar cane juice, when kept for several years in wood without the addition of anything whatever, acquires a bouquet which approaches in excellence that which is acquired by old brandies.

The total production of “rhum” and “taffea” in Guadeloupe is not very great, and as has already been indicated very little of it, if any, is exported. More perhaps of the variety known as “taffea” is exported than of the true “rhum.” The quantity of “taffea” produced is also larger than that of “rhum.”

Other varieties of rum are also made in Guadeloupe, for instance rum made from the boiled cane juice. In the manufacture of this drink the juice of the cane is heated in the boiler in such a way as to boil violently for some minutes. Its density is then considerably increased, the scum is carefully removed and it is allowed to cool. It is diluted with water in such a way as to bring it back to its original density. Finally, this product is taken to the cisterns of fermentation and treated in the ordinary way. Evidently the object of this boiling is to sterilize the juice, thus destroying the adventitious ferments, and at the same time purifying it to a certain extent by removing certain quantities of the matter coagulable by heat and commonly known as “skimmings.”

There is still another variety, made in Martinique, from what is known in that country as “gros sirop.” This molasses is obtained in the manner of the old-fashioned open-kettle molasses, being the dripping from the sugar cane juice boiled over a naked fire in an open vessel until it reaches a crystallizing density. The quantity of sugar made in the island in this way at the present time is almost nil, and hence the amount of rum thus produced is inconsiderable.

In the manufacture in Guadeloupe “dunder” is also used in the fresh fermentations, but the name of it in this island is “vinasse,” namely, the residue of the distillation of the preceding fermentation, in order to produce the rum. This vinasse is very strongly acid and contains usually only traces of sugar, but has a dry residue amounting from 35 to 40 grams per liter. The ash is rich in phosphoric acid and potash. It serves, as has already been stated, for the nourishment of the yeasts, especially in the addition of certain quantities of nitrogenous matter and of mineral substances such as phosphoric acid and potash, which the yeasts require for their proper nourishment.

Distillation in Guadeloupe.—The distillation in Guadeloupe is carried on very much in the same manner as that of Cognac in France. The apparatus consists of practically three parts: the heater in which the fermented mash is raised to a high temperature by the vapor escaping from the still; the still itself, which is the ordinary pot still; and the cooler, which is the ordinary worm surrounded with cold water.

Rum in Demerara.—Rum is also made to a considerable extent in Demerara. Inasmuch, however, as the principal product of the sugar cane is sugar, the raw materials do not have such a high character as those used in Jamaica and in other islands where the process of extraction of the juice for sugar-making purposes is less perfect. The rum made in Demerara is distinctly inferior to that produced in Jamaica and Guadeloupe, St. Croix, and other West Indian countries. Very little, if any, dunder is used in Demerara. The fermentation is produced solely by the added yeasts and is carried on much more rapidly than in Jamaica and Guadeloupe. Moreover, the Demerara rum is often, or largely, produced in chamber stills, or rectifying columns, which is never the case in Jamaica, where only pot stills are employed. This is another reason why the Demerara rums average more nearly the character of alcohols in proportion as they depart from the true character of rums.

Early History of Rum in New England.—The early history of rum in New England is set forth in a work by Alice Morse Earle, entitled “Customs and Fashions in Old New England,” published by Charles Scribner’s Sons in 1893. On page 174 the author says:

Aqua-vitas, a general name for strong waters, was brought over in large quantities during the seventeenth century, and sold for about three shillings per gallon. Cider was distilled into cider brandy, or apple-jack; and when, by 1670, molasses had come into port in considerable quantities through the West India trade, the forests of New England supplied plentiful and cheap fuel to convert it into “rhum, a strong water drawn from the sugar cane.” In a manuscript description of Barbadoes, written in 1651, we read: “The chief fudling they make in this island is Rumbullion alias Kill-Divil—a hot hellish and terrible liquor.” It was called in some localities Barbadoes liquor, and by the Indians “ahcoobee” or “ockuby,” a word of the Norridgewock tongue. John Elliot spelled it “rumb,” and Josselyn called it plainly ”that cussed liquor, Rhum, rumbullion, or kill-devil.” It went by the latter name and rumbooze everywhere, and was soon cheap enough. Increase Mather said, in 1686, “It is an unhappy thing that in later years a kind of drink called Rum has been common among us. They that are poor, and wicked too, can for a penny or two-pence make themselves drunk.” Burke said, at a later date, “The quantity of spirits which they distill in Boston from the molasses they import is as surprising as the cheapness at which they sell it, which is under two shillings a gallon; but they are more famous for the quantity and cheapness than for the excellency of their rum.” In 1710, and fifty years later, New England rum was worth but three shillings a gallon, while West India rum was worth but two-pence more. New England distilleries quickly found a more lucrative way of disposing of their kill-devil than by selling it at such cheap rates. Ships laden with barrels of rum were sent to the African coast, and from thence they returned with a most valuable lading—negro slaves. Along the coast of Africa New England rum quite drove out French brandy.

The Irish and Scotch settlers knew how to make whiskey from rye and wheat, and they soon learned to manufacture it from barley and potatoes, and even from the despised Indian corn.

The drinking of compounded liquors was also practised in old New England, as shown by the following extract from page 178 of this work, beginning:

Flip was a vastly popular drink, and continued to be so for a century and a half. I find it spoken of as early as 1690. It was made of home-brewed beer, sweetened with sugar, molasses, or dried pumpkin, and flavored with a liberal dash of rum, then stirred in a great mug or pitcher with a red-hot loggerhead or bottle or flip-dog, whch made the liquor foam and gave it a burnt bitter flavor.

Landlord May, of Canton, Mass., made a famous brew thus: he mixed four pounds of sugar, four eggs, and one pint of cream and let it stand for two days. When a mug of flip was called for, he filled a quart mug two-thirds full of beer, placed in it four great spoonfuls of the compound, then thrust in the seething loggerhead, and added a gill of rum to the creamy mixture. If a fresh egg were beaten into the flip the drink was called “bellowstop,” and the froth rose over the top of the mug. “Stonewall” was a most intoxicating mixture of cider and rum. “Calibogus,” or “bogus” was cold rum and beer unsweetened. “Black-strap” was a mixture of rum and molasses. Casks of it stood in every country store, a salted and dried codfish slyly hung alongside—a free lunch to be stripped off and eaten, and thus tempt, through thirst, the purchase of another draught of black-strap.

A terrible drink is said to have been made popular in Salem—a drink with a terrible name—whistle-belly-vengeance. It consisted of sour household beer simmered in a kettle, sweetened with molasses, filled with brown-bread crumbs and drunk piping hot.

In a work published in 1890 entitled “Economic and Social History of New England,” by William B. Weeden, it appears that distillation began in Salem as early as 1648. On page 186 we find the following:

Emanual Downing writes that Leader has cast the iron pans to be used in the process. Downing began distilling in Salem this year. Frequent commerce with the West Indies carried out unmerchantable fish to be exchanged for molasses.

On page 188 it is stated:

Rum was much used by the common people, and malt liquors were the favorite drink of the English colonists. The native New England beverage was cider and the presses began to work about 1650. Much barley had been raised in Plymouth. The many malthouses were not so common after this.

In 1686 the Southern part of the Colonies had commenced to buy rum from New England, as stated on page 376. In 1690 it is stated (page 416), “Cider and vinegar corrected the West Indian sugar and molasses always coming in; that is, when the molasses did not evolve itself into the fiery rum. Rum was beginning to be the important commercial factor which it came to be later in the century.”

By 1670, it is stated on page 459:

The West Indies afforded the great demand for negroes; they also furnished the raw material supplying the manufacture of the main merchandise which the thirsty Gold Coast drank up in barter for its poor, banished children. Governor Hopkins stated that for more than thirty years prior to 1764, Rhode Island sent to the Coast annually eighteen vessels carrying 1,800 hhds. rum . . . . . Newport had 22 still houses; Boston had the best
example, owned by a Mr. Childs . . . . . The quantity of rum distilled was enormous, and in 1750 it was estimated that Massachusetts alone consumed more than 15,000 hhds. molasses for this purpose . . . . . The consumption of rum in the fisheries and lumbering and ship-building industries was large; the export demand to Africa was immense.

The adulteration of rum was an early practice. Captain Potter, in 1768, gave directions for the trade on the African Coast, as follows:

Make yr Cheaf Trade with The Blacks and Little or none with the white people if possible to be avoided. Worter yr Rum as much as possible and sell as much by the short mesuer as you can.

Order them in the Bots to worter thear Rum, as the proof will Rise by the Rum Standing in ye Son.

Evidently the Captain was provided with a rectifier’s license.

In 1740, it is stated, page 501:

The most important change in the manufacture of this period was in the introduction of distilleries for rum. Massachusetts and Connecticut undertook the business, but Rhode Island surpassed both in proportion . . . . . The trade in Negroes from Africa absorbed quantities of rum.

The 18th century brought in the manufacture of New England rum with far-reaching consequences, social as well as economical. It was found that the molasses could be transferred here and converted into alcohol more cheaply than in the lazy atmosphere of the West Indian seas.

No Rectification.—In all the references which are made to the manufacture of rum in New England not a single intimation is made that the spirit was ever rectified or mixed with a neutral spirit color and flavor to make a beverage. In fact, the neutral spirit was unknown as a commercial proposition. The stills which were used were the old-fashioned pot stills. It is stated, on page 502, that Mr. Thomas Armory

built a “still-house” in 1722, bringing pine logs 28 feet long, 18 inches in diameter, from Portsmouth for his pumps. In 1726 he orders a copper still of 500 gallons capacity from Bristol, England. The head was to be large in proportion, the gooseneck to be of fine pewter and two feet long, with a barrel in proportion to the whole still.

This shows the character of the still and the nature of the spirit which must have been made therefrom. In the early history of its production there is nothing known of the modern process of rectifying, mixing, adulterating, compounding, coloring and flavoring. In 1659 a hogshead of rum was quoted at 12 pounds, 12 shillings. In 1670 it had fallen to 7 pounds. In 1671 it was quoted at five shillings per gallon. Insofar as can be judged by the early history of these substances, the contention that has been made, that distilled beverages were always rectified, colored, adulterated, mixed and flavored before consumption, does not appear to have any basis in fact.

Morewood, on page 334, of his work, writes of New England rum in the following language:

The rums of New England are considered of good quality, and some deem them not inferior to the best that are produced in the West Indies. In 1810, they distilled in this State 2,472,000 gallons of rum; from grain, 63,730 gallons; from cider, 316,480 gallons, while the breweries yielded 716,800 gallons. Besides this extensive manufacture, much is imported. Geneva is successfully imitated, particularly since the tide of emigration has brought many intelligent men from Holland, who possess sufficient knowledge of this branch of trade, to render the American article equal to that manufactured in the Netherlands. Many of the Irish emigrants distill, in genuine purity, that description of spirits commonly called Innishowen or Potheen, which is no less a favorite on the other side of the Atlantic, than on the shores of Magilligan, or the banks of the Shannon. The following mode of making it at an early period, is thus described by an eyewitness: To a bushel and a half of rye, four quarts of malt, and a handful of hops, were added fifteen gallons of boiling water, which were allowed to stand for four hours. These being increased by sixteen gallons more, two quarts of home-made yeast were thrown in, and in this proportion either a large or small quantity of worts was prepared, which, after being allowed ample time to ferment, was distilled in a simple apparatus. One bushel of rye produced about eleven quarts of weak and inferior spirit, and sold at the rate of 4s. 6d. per gallon. The refuse of these small stills was used in feeding swine.

Description of Rum Making in the Early Part of the Last Century.—An interesting description of the manufacture of rum is found in book written by John Bell and published in 1831 in Calcutta. Mr. Bell describes the manufacture of rum as a part of an article on the manufacture of sugar on a West India plantation. He says his work would not be complete without going into the details of the disposition of the feculencies which form the base of that highly esteemed spirit usually sold in Great Britain under the title of Jamaica Rum. He gives directions for adapting the capacity of the distillery to that of the sugar house, and especially provides that there must be at least one large cistern equal in size to the contents of four fermenting vats, to receive the lees and the dunder. He regards the lees as indispensable in the distillation of rum, and the want of them is seriously felt at the beginning of the season. He advises the following mixture as a proper one for fermented skimmings:

Skimmings 40 percent
Water 40 percent
Lees 20 percent

When molasses is procurable, he recommends one-third each of skimmings, lees and water, and 5 percent of molasses.

After the crop, however, has been harvested and there is a scarcity or total want of skimmings, the distiller must have recourse to his molasses, and the proportion of lees must be increased with regard to the increased tenacity of the sweets.

In this condition he recommends equal proportions of lees and water 40 percent, with 20 percent of molasses. The fermentation, it is stated, is not finished before the end of 10 days, but after a good supply of lees is obtainable it may be finished in five days.

The still used in these days was a very old fashioned one and the top was hated on instead of being secured by clamps or packing. Great attention must be paid to the luting of the head of the still, he says, which is done with clay, and that unless great care is used the alcohol may break out through the crevices and take fire, to the imminent danger of the persons in attendance. The overseer he advises never to leave the still, unless relieved by equally competent assistants. The first distillation in these days was called “low wines.” The strength of the spirit was proved by the bubble, or in the absence of bubble by olive oil, and the spirit was to be made of such a density that olive oil would sink to the bottom of it.

Disposition of the Rum.—A great deal of the rum made in the United States is entered for consumption. Other parts are bought by rectifiers, mixed with neutral spirits, made from corn or molasses, artificially colored, and sold as rum. A very considerable portion of the rum made in the United States, is sent to Africa, and disposed of to the semi-civilized and savage tribes of that continent. The well-known love of the natives of Africa for alcoholic drinks indicates that the markets of that country are particularly favorable to the disposal of large quantities of rum. What the effect is upon the welfare of the natives is a matter which, insofar as I know, has not been taken into consideration in the preparation and shipment of these products.

Quantity Produced, 1917.—Practically all the rum produced in 1917 was made in the Third Massachusetts District (2,706,414 gallons) and Sixth Kentucky District. The total quantity was 2,842,834.3 gallons. The quantity remaining in bond was 906,042.5 gallons.

The total quantity withdrawn from bond and tax paid was 642,798 gallons and the quantity bottled in bond 17,019.7.

The quantity of rum exported was 1,030,249.9. Of this there was sent:
To Africa 778,057.3 Gallons
To England 122,081.5 Gallons
To China 42,400.3 Gallons
To Holland 30,73<> Gallons
To Canada 24,232.6 Gallons

The dearth of ships has greatly decreased the amount of exported rum to Africa over that of previous years. In 1916, 1,196,905 gallons of rum were exported to Africa alone.

Adulteration of Rum.—As in the case of whisky and brandy rum has been subjected to all kinds of adulteration. So great had become the adulteration of rum shipped to England from Jamaica that for every barrel of rum sent 6 barrels were sold. It is not difficult to see how seriously the industries of the island of Jamaica have been crippled. Thus by the better execution of the English food law and the application thereto of the merchandise marks act, a great deal of the adulteration has been eliminated. There is still enough practiced to excite grave concern in the minds of those who make the pure product, and depend upon England for its market. There is no doubt that similar frauds are perpetrated by the rectifiers in this country.

H.W. Wiley’s Prohibition Era Telling of the Chartreuse Tale

This prohibition era telling of the Chartreuse legal situation comes from H.W. Wiley’s 1919 text, Beverages and their adulteration, origin, composition, manufacture, natural, artificial, fermented, distilled, alkaloidal and fruit juices. Wiley was a government Bureau chemist and former employer of New England rum architect Harris Eastman Sawyer. His job title gave him a privileged position, making him very much like IRS chemist Peter Valaer, but his writing style is very different and you can tell he wasn’t as brilliant.

The entire book is unique because it educates about spirits during prohibition from a privileged position (samples of everything came through Bureau labs). There is weird emoting and you can tell a subversive tone lurks throughout the whole book. When he includes different recipes for absinthe while denouncing it as evil, you wonder what his real position is. When he takes extra time to describe what are likely his favorite spirits, you wonder what his true position is on temperance was. The book is barely about adulteration, which after you spend enough time with it, seems like a ploy to get it past the censors and into the public libraries.

Anyhow, I was not aware of some of these details on the Chartreuse legal situation. Other liqueurs get no such attention besides absinthe.

Wiley’s telling of Chartreuse:

Chartreuse.—The first distillations of Chartreuse were made by St. Bruno in 1084. In 1656 after the lapse of 6 centuries the profits were so great that the monks erected a million dollar monastery at Fourvoire. The maximum annual Fourvoire production reached the huge figures of 80 million liters. Twelve different kinds of herbs were used. When gathered they were dried in well aired-cellars underneath the monastery and then macerated in water. It was this aqueous extract which mixed with alcohol and distilled gave the desired flavor to the product.

Use of the Term.—Since the expulsion of the religious orders from France and the consequent emigration of the Carthusian Monks from Grenoble, considerable confusion has arisen in different parts of the world respecting the use of the term Chartreuse. It was claimed by the French and this claim was sustained by their courts, that the administrator of the estate of the monks, appointed by the Republic to conduct the operations for the making of Chartreuse, was authorized to use the old name upon the product which he advertised. It is true this product was not made according to the secret formula of the monks, because no one knew exactly what that formula is. It was possible with the skilled labor which the administrator could secure, to produce a liqueur which resembles in many of its important respects the genuine.

The New Product.—On the other hand, the Carthusian Monks when they established themselves in Tarragona in Spain, continued the manufacture of the liqueur after the recipe which they had used at Grenoble, gathering the same kinds of herbs they had used at Grenoble from the Pyrenees, and in every other respect imitating the liqueur formerly made at Grenoble. The natural difference in the aromatics employed, and the change in the environment of manufacture resulted, as might have been expected, in the production of a liqueur which was distinctly inferior to that previously made near Grenoble. They called the new product Liqueur Peres Chartreux.

Thus the world was a double sufferer, since the French with the same materials at Grenoble could not make the Chartreuse the monks made before, and the monks with the same materials at Tarragona could only make an article inferior to their former product.

Decision of the Courts.—The question as to who had the right to use the word “Chartreuse” has been decided in the United States Courts. Judge Coxe, called attention in an interesting way to the essential points of contention:

The courts of France by a decision on March 31, 1903, dissolved the order of the Carthusian Monks at Grenoble and sequestered the entire property and appointed a receiver therefor. The court also held that all the business of the monks, including their good-will, clientage, trade marks, commercial names, models of bottles, flagons, cases, furniture, machinery, raw material, manufactured goods and the exclusive right to the industrial name L. Gamier, was the property of the monks and as such passed to the receiver to be liquidated. Thus it appears that every right and title which belonged to the monks, whether corporeal, or incorporeal, tangible or intangible, was, so far as the laws and courts of France are concerned, vested in the receiver appointed by the French Government.

The federal court also summarized the situation as to the monks and found that had they chosen to do so they could, with some necessary changes, have used the old label and trade marks in Spain; but they have seen fit not to do so probably because the labels would have been prohibited in France and they would thus have lost the French market, which, of course, is the most important. They could not have used the trade mark in the form registered in France, for it would have been a falsehood and a fraud on the public to assert that liqueur made at Tarragona, Spain, was manufactured at the convent of the Grand Chartreuse in France. This especially would have been a false statement, since the monks even had claimed that the peculiar excellence of their product came from the plants and herbs grown in the Alps in the vicinity of their Monastery.

It appears, therefore, that on their establishment in Spain, the monks of their own accord abandoned the use of their former labels and trade marks and put on their bottles an entirely different label, calling their product Liqueur Peres Chartreux.

The U. S. court also held that the use of the old labels by the French liquidator, or the parties to whom he sold the right, would prove deceptive to the customer, who would not only think that the liqueur was made as before at the Grand Chartreuse at Grenoble, but unless he Was familiar with the processes of the courts in France, would think also it was made by the monks themselves. Hence, any label used by the liquidator, or any one authorized by him, which would convey such an idea; that is, any label which was exactly similar to the old label used by the monks, must, of necessity, be deceptive. Thus any liqueur made subsequent to 1903, cannot be legally called Chartreuse in the United States.

Selected Writings of Fermentation Chemist S.F. Ashby

This is a very cool and very long selection of works by fermentation chemist S.F. Ashby who came after Charles Allan and Percival Greg. It is not for everyone and probably just for distillers and rum makers interested in getting deeper into fermentation. These works are still cited 100 years later by some of the foremost rum researchers. What I’ve done is made the document more accessible and better indexed so more people will find it in searches.

If you are just a casual rum enthusiast it may still be fun to read or skim. You can see how much they knew and didn’t know about fermentation in the glory days of Jamaican rum. You can also see their methodology for getting a handle on it all and deepening their involvement. Sadly, so much of the rum made these days by the new distillers aren’t that sophisticated. They are still in the “look mom I’m making rum” phase and not exactly sculpting their product yet. As I’ve said before rum is the most malleable of all spirits, but you can’t start to shape it without doing serious homework and pretty involved experiments.

One more notable thing is that towards the very end there is an awesome account of making Jamaican orange wine and orange wine vinegar.

Somewhere in there is also the first mention I’ve ever come across of Marshal Ward’s ginger beer plant which is a type of SCOBY used to ferment the original Jamaican ginger beer.

I spent three weeks in Jamaica a few years ago and hated it. My boss had sent me to supervise a house that was under construction. There was so much that could be done there but no one was doing anything. I scoured the island looking for moonshine and found nothing. So much of the jerk chicken I was coming across was made with Chinese barbecue sauce. I have a dream of returning some day to start a Noma style restaurant with a large beverage focus and revive so many of the great products that used to be there until they consolidated into virtually nothing which was then undermined by cheaper Chinese imports. Give me a few years, I still have a lot more to learn.


It had been established during the three years that my predecessor Mr. Chas. Allan, B. Sc. had worked on the manufacture of Jamaica Rum, that flavour was mainly due to the compound ethers. These bodies were considered as produced by chemical combination of alcohol with various volatile fatty acids during and after fermentation of the wash, and particularly during distillation. The alcohol was the product of the action of yeasts on the sugar in the wash, but the acids were the work of bacteria, being partly preformed in the materials used for setting up the wash, and partly produced in the wash during and after the yeast fermentation. The following acids were found, acetic, propionic, butyric, capryllic, capric, lauric, all of which yielded ethers with alcohol capable of giving varied flavours to Rum. Acetic ether was shown to constitute about 98 per cent, of all ethers in Rum, but contributed little flavour and owing to its volatility was very transient. Butyric ether was found to be more valuable, but the ethers of the higher acids, capryllic, capric, and lauric, were held to be of special importance for giving both body and characteristic flavour.

As the yeasts were considered to be only alcohol producers attention was mainly directed to the study of bacteria producing the valuable acids. One such bacterium was isolated and the conditions under which it works determined (Report 1906, pages 136-137). A microscopical examination of washes showed the presence of two yeast types, distinguished by very different modes of multiplying; to the one type belonged, the oval and sausage shaped forms which multiplied by budding (Saccharomycetes) whereas the other type reproduced by division through the middle of the cell, that is by ‘fission.’ (Schizosaccharomycetes). The oval budding forms were alone seen in cane juice washes, but the fission type was found to be the characteristic fermenting yeast of both common, clean and flavoured rum washes. The latter kind could not be isolated, and indeed no systematic experiments appear to have been made with any of the yeasts.

Mr. Percival H. Greig of Westmoreland was the first to isolate a number of Jamaica Distillery yeasts, and to study their action on washes in a state of pure culture. In molasses and dunder which he took to Jorgensen’s Laboratory in Copenhagen in 1893 the fission type of yeast was discovered and studied for the first time. Greig continued to work with these yeasts in Jamaica till 1896 and published reports of his results in the Bulletin of the Botanical Department (March, August, and September 1895 and January 1896). He observed marked differences in the time required for fermentation, amount of attenuation, and alcohol-yield with different yeast, and drew particular attention to a slow working top fermenting fission form which alone was able to produce an agreeable flavour in washes. He recognised the importance for flavouring of fruit ether in rum, but appeared to think that these bodies in so far as they were not contained in the original juice of the cane, could be produced at will by pitching the wash with a suitable flavour engendering yeast. On these grounds he strongly advocated the employment of pure yeast cultures in Jamaican Distilleries, and insisted that the distiller should strive to suppress the action of bacteria.

As previously indicated Mr. Allan took up the precisely opposite view, pushing the yeasts into a subordinate position and devoted his attention mainly to the search after flavour producing bacteria.

As the yeasts must always be the central factors in fermentations for the production of spirits, it appeared to me natural to devote first attention to them, and to observe in particular whether some are really able to engender flavours of value in Jamaica Rum.


Early in the year I isolated and obtained in pure culture a number of the oval budding yeasts from washes in the Laboratory distillery which were set up from a mixture of fresh cane juice and dunder, and about the same time some fission yeasts were secured from a dead wash sent in from the country. As the result of some preliminary fermentation experiments it was observed that the oval cane juice yeasts worked more rapidly in washes of low acidity, but with an acidity of nearly I per cent, the oval yeasts showed very sluggish fermentation, while the fission type worked as well at the high acidity as at the low.

It seemed desirable to study the effect of three common distillery acids, lactic, acetic, and butyric, on the two types of yeast, and accordingly a number of fermentations were set going in cane juice and dunder washes to which varying quantities of the single acids were added before putting in the yeast. The oval budding yeasts all showed bottom fermentation phenomena, but the fission yeasts all showed strong top fermentation with the production of an abundant fatty head. A vigorous yeast of each kind was selected for the experiment with the acids.

The amounts of the different pure acids added are expressed also as Sulphuric acid by weight per cent, of the wash by volume. The amount of the yeast added was as far as possible the same for both types, except in the butyric acid series, which was carried out at a later date with a larger amount of yeast. The results are set out in Table I. which shows the amounts of sugar fermented at the end of each day to the sixth day. The figures were obtained by daily weighings, multiplying the loss of weight by two and calculating the resulting numbers 011 the total amount of sugar originally present.

With regard to acetic acid the results show that the budding yeast is much more susceptible to it than the fission yeast. In the presence of a half per cent, of this acid the budding yeast showed greatly reduced fermentation during the first three days, whereas the fission yeast was but slightly affected. One per cent, completely prevented the activity of the budding type, but again only slightly reduced the fission yeast fermentation. Both yeasts are very resistant against lactic acid, but even here .7 per cent, showed an injurious influence on the budding yeast, whereas, 1.4 per cent, hardly reduced fermentation by the fission yeast. Butyric acid proved to be very poisonous for both yeasts, but whereas .15 per cent, wholly prevented the budding yeast from fermenting it caused the period of fermentation to be increased by only one day with the fission type. Even .4 per cant, did not completely suppress the latter’s activity, but .5 per cent, prevented all fermentation.

The conclusion to be drawn from these results is that the budding yeasts are suitable only for the fermentation of weakly acid washes, whereas the fission type is at home in washes of high acidity. A notable point which the figures bring out is that where the acidity is low the budding yeasts get to work greatly more rapidly than the fission yeast. This is particularly well shown in the case where no acid was added. Although both yeasts completed the fermentation in five days, the budding yeast multiplied and fermented much stronger in the two first days. The ability of the budding type to multiply and ferment more rapidly from the outset in the weeker acid liquors, like cane juice washes and fresh skimmings, explains why this is the only kind found in such liquors the acidity of which is generally under .5 per cent. In the usual estate washes containing dunder, molasses, acid skimmings, and frequently specially added acid, the budding yeast is largely suppressed, but the more slowly developing and very acid resistent fission type takes possession, and is practically the only form found in washes the acidity of which is 1.0 percent, and over.


In March I collected samples of fermenting washes, dead washes, skimmings, dunder, acid and rum, from several estates in Westmoreland and St. James, and from the washes was able to gain pure culture of many fission yeasts. These cultures were started from a single cell according to the method of Hansen in order to prevent the possibility of any of the growths consisting of mixtures. With ten of these derived from four estates a fermentation series was set going in a wash of the composition :—

The Brix was 17.4, the Acidity .48 per cent, and the total sugar present 14.5 per cent.
The yeasts 3 and 9 although pure fission forms, showed a totally different kind of fermentation to most of the others, the yeast gathering mostly into a coherent mass at the bottom of the vessels, the bubbles breaking on the surface being glassy clear and containing practically no cells. This fermentation was evidently strictly of the bottom kind. Yeast 5 showed mainly bottom fermentation phenomena, but produced also a slight yeasty head. All the other yeasts formed a strong glistening brownish white head at the surface and the bubbles were thickly cloudy, these yeasts were accordingly strongly top fermenting. Under the microscope the two forms could be distinguished easily, the bottom type showing isolated and paired cells, but never more than two together, whereas the top yeasts showed long chains of four or more cells interlaced and apparently branched. Yeast 5 showed no chains but the cells were often united mechanically into flocks.

The bottom yeasts 3 and 9 completed the fermentation in two days less than the top forms, yeast 5 occupying an intermediate position. This character of the bottom yeast to ferment more vigorously than the top kind has preserved itself in all subsequent experiments. The increase of acidity due to the yeast alone, all bacteria having been excluded, amounts to only about .1 per cent. The attenuation was very much the same in all cases, but the highest amounts of proof spirit were obtained from the bottom yeast 9 and the mainly bottom yeast 5. The yield of proof spirit per degree attenuation was good, in four cases exceeding unity. The distillation was effected from glass apparatus with one retort, the liquor being divided into two parts, the first yielding high wines of 20 O.P. and the second portion giving rum of 41 O.P. with the high wines in the retort. The rum could hardly be called by that name, and it showed the same character for all ten yeasts; in no case was any characteristic flavour produced.

In another experiment with dunder, molasses, and water, a much larger amount of dunder was used, namely one half the bulk of the wash.

The Brix of the mixture was 18.6, Acidity .7 %.

The Bottom yeast here showed a gain of 2 to 3 days in the fermentation period. The yield of proof spirit was very high. The rum obtained was very light, and gave no difference in flavour with the different yeasts.

In another fermentation series with the yeasts 2 and 9 pure volatile acids were added to the molasses and dunder wash before pitching with the yeast. The Brix was l8.6, the natural acidity of the wash .46. Acetic acid was added equal to .5 acidity, and butyric acid equal to .1 acidity, so that the total acidity before fermentation amounted to 1.06.

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The large amount of volatile acid added had a marked effect in slowing fermentation, the time required as compared with the previous experiments, being 10 days as against 6 days with the bottom form,and 16 days as against 9 with top yeast. The rum showed an improvement in flavour, and with the top yeast contained more than twice as much ether. This was due to the much longer period during which alcohol and volatile acids could react chemically to produce ethers in the wash containing the top yeast.

The conclusion to be drawn from these experiments is that, whereas, none of the fission yeast isolated from the estate washes was able to produce flavour on its own account, the top yeast owing to its slower fermentation admitted a greater amount of chemical ether production in a wash originally high in volatile acids. The latter result is in accordance with distillers’ experience as they consider that a wash showing a strong fatty head due to the top fermenting fission yeast yields the best flavoured rum.


It is well known that the alcohol accumulating during fermentation has, beyond a certain concentration, different with different yeasts, a marked slowing effect on fermentation and finally stops it all together. In order to test the maximum amount of alcohol endured by the Jamaica fission yeasts, it was necessary to set up a wash of very high gravity. In a first experiment with the yeasts 2 and 9, a wash consisting of 4,000 dunder, 1,600 molasses, and 703 water was set up at 30′ Brix. This was practically completely fermented, so that the alcohol formed was below the maximum which the yeasts could endure. In a second series a wash of 30° Brix was set up with molasses and an extract of yeast, and after some days a further quantity of molasses was added. In this case both yeasts stopped fermenting due to the action of the alcohol, while there was still abundant sugar left in the wash. The data and results of the Experiments are given in Table IV.

The first Experiments show a complete fermentation by both yeasts, the bottom form taking 5 days less than the top yeast. The bottom yeast also shows a higher yield of proof spirit. The influence of the accumulating alcohol on fermentation is very marked, for whereas the bottom yeast had produced 16.5 per cent, proof spirit in 7 days, only 7 per cent, more spirit was produced in the following II days.

In the second Experiment the maximum yield of alcohol which prevented all further fermentation was just under 25 per cent, with the bottom yeast and just over 23 per cent, with the top form ; while the bottom yeast yielded 17 per cent, proof spirit in 7 days only 7.7 per cent, more was produced in the following 12 days. A similar effect of the alcohol is shown by the top yeast. The top yeast showed a rather sudden falling off in fermentation with about 18.5 per cent, proof spirit present, but the top yeast gave a more gradual falling off; it appeared, however, to be susceptible at about 16.5 per cent, proof spirit. The mixture of the two yeasts showed throughout intermediate results.

It is evident from these results that the fission yeasts which work the estate washes are capable of yielding very large amounts of alcohol in pure culture with abundant time at their disposal. Fermentation is rapid and uniform for 7-9 days, during which 16-18 per cent, of proof spirit is yielded. This means that a wash containing about 16 per cent. of sugar can be fermented in a reasonable time. Above this amount the loss often becomes serious owing to sluggish fermentation. This fact has been recognised in practical distillery work, so that estate washes are rarely set up with more than 16 per cent, of sugar and usually with less.


This Experiment was devised with a view to observing the effect of varying the amount of sugar in the wash, on time, attenuation and yield of proof spirit. The washes all contained the same proportion of dunder, namely, three-fifths, the gravity being varied by means of the molasses. The results were as follows:

Here as usual the bottom yeast is the most rapid worker, showing 1 gain of three days. The time required is least with the lowest gravity, but there, is a difference of two days between the 25 and 20 settings and of only one day between the 20 and 15 settings. This difference hardly shows itself during the period of the main fermentation. After five days the relative amounts of sugar fermented by the bottom yeast were 35, 51, and 68.

As there was a half more sugar in the 20 setting as in the 15, and twice as much in the 25 setting, these figures indicate that the activity of fermentation was proportional to the amount of sugar present, i.e., in a given time twice as much sugar was fermented in the 25 setting as in the 15 setting, the 20 setting coming half way between. The difference, however, was shown by the time taken by the wash to die off after the main fermentation was over. The 25 setting took 3 days to die, the 28 setting I day, and the 15 setting only a few hours. The yield of proof spirit was as high for the highest gravity as for the lowest, and the bottom yeast gave as usual the best results.

On the other hand there was markedly more sugar left unfermented in the highest setting than in the other two, and the bottom yeast in all three case left more than the top yeast. The dunder employed in this series was a light cane juice product having a Brix of 9 and an acidity of only 1.2. The amount which had to be used (3/5 of the wash) to secure a normal acidity was more than is usual in practical operations, where the dunder has an acidity of over 2 per cent. The result was that the relative amount of sugar in the wash was low, and the attenuation and yield of proof spirit low also.


The yeast produced in some of the fermentations of the last experiment was collected, dried in the air and weighed. The results are shown in pounds for 1,000 gallons of wash.

The top yeast produces a half more yeast substance than the bottom yeast consequently a pound of the bottom yeast is able to ferment a much greater amount of sugar. The amount of yeast produced by the top variety falls away with the reduction in gravity of the wash, so that only one half as much yeast is produced in a 15 Brix setting as in one at 25 Brix. The amount of yeast produced is proportional to the amount of fermentable sugar present for washes from 25 to 15 Brix, but at 30 Brix relatively less yeast is produced, so that the ratio to sugar fermented is wider.

At first sight it seems inconsistent that the top yeast should often attenuate more than the bottom yeast and leave less sugar unfermented, yet give a lower yield of proof spirit. The above results, show however, that it removes no more sugar to build up its substance than the bottom yeast, and owing to its habit of gathering at the surface of the wash in intimate contact with the air, respiration is more active, causing a greater loss of sugar by combustion into water and carbonic acid The bottom yeast is consequently a more economical worker.

Stability of the two Varieties

Distillers often observe that during the advance of the season their fermentations which were at first of the bottom type, tend more and more to top characters, suggesting either a conversion of the bottom yeast into the top or else a gradual displacement of the former by the latter due to some change in the composition of the wash which favours the top yeasts. That top and bottom fermentation may proceed in the same wash, was evident from the fact that both forms were in several cases isolated from the same material.

Some observations have made it seem probable to me that at any rate one of the varieties is not stable. The fission yeast No. 3 when freshly isolated showed wholly bottom-fermentation phenomena, and agreed entirely with the other bottom yeasts. It was allowed to lie for two months under a fermented cane juice wash, and was then freshened up again. I was surprised to find that it no longer showed bottom fermentation, but gave a strongly marked top fermentation. On comparing its behavior with that of yeasts which had always been top fermentation, it was found that it gave quite similar results, i.e., an equally slow fermentation and a lower yield of alcohol than the bottom yeasts. Under the microscope it also was identical with the top form. The view which remained for many years unchallenged in Europe was, that the top and bottom yeasts were distinct types, the one never passing into the other. Quite recently Hansen has shown however, that there is always a tendency to vary, and has actually obtained the one form from the other in the case of a number of brewery and wine budding yeasts. There appears to be a much greater tendency for bottom yeasts to go over into the top form than vice versa. Further observations must show whether the fission yeasts are particularly liable to vary in this way, and whether the change so often seen in distilleries in Jamaica from bottom to top fermentation is due to a variation of the yeast.

Conclusions with regard to the two varieties of Fission Yeast.

I—The bottom yeast is a characteristically more rapid worker than the top yeast giving a gain of 2 to 3 days in the fermentation period.
2—The bottom yeast forms less substance and consequently makes a smaller claim on the amount of food stuff in the wash.
3—The bottom yeast gives a rapid and uniform fermentation during the main period, but the wash dies slowly. The top yeast ferments very uniformly throughout, and shows no sharp transition to the final stage.
4—The yeasts attenuate about equally, but the bottom yeast gives a better yield of alcohol.
5—The top yeast leaves less unfermented sugar in the wash.
6—The bottom yeast gives a higher maximum yield of alcohol, namely 25 per cent., as against 23 per cent., with* the top variety.
7—The bottom yeast shows the injurious effect of alcohol at a higher concentration than the top yeast, viz., II and 16 respectively.
8—Owing to its slower fermentation the top yeast admits of more ethers being produced in the wash than the bottom yeast where volatile acids are present. The rum is consequently better.


Owing to insufficient distillery space or small still capacity, it often happens that molasses have to be stored for weeks during which period they undergo a rather active fermentation. This involves a loss of sugar, so that it seemed desirable to make some experiments with a view to (1) determining the amount of loss arising from the cause. (2) separating and studying the properties of the yeast causing the trouble. (3) finding a remedy for it.

Three yeasts were secured in pure culture from a fermenting molasses, all of which were able to set up fermentation in a liquor of very high gravity.

YEAST (a)—This was a budding form of the pastorianus type which formed spores on the gypsum block at the air temperature in under 18 hours. Transfered to mixtures of molasses and water of increasing gravity it fermented actively at 45Brix, feebly at 60 Brix, and showed no fermentation in molasses alone of 90 Brix. It was therefore not the kind active in the stored material.

YEAST (b)—This was a fruit ether producing yeast forming a dry wrinkled friable skin on ordinary washes. It was a small budding yeast which formed hat shaped spores on the gypsum block in 24 hours. It fermented strongly in molasses and water of 45 Brix, more weakly at 60 Brix and not at all in molasses alone. It was also therefore not the form desired.

YEAST (c)— This was a small spherical or oval budding form characterised by the production of branched chains of cells in weakly acid washes, and a very abundant multiplication. It formed no spores and no skin on cane juice, but merely a yeast ring. It appeared therefore to be no true yeast, but a ‘torula.’ This kind fermented actively in molasses and water of 45 and 60 Brix, and also in pure molasses of 90 Brix. It corresponded to the form most abundantly present in the original material, and was evidently the true agent.

As an alkaline medium acts very unfavourably on yeast fermentation lime suggested itself as the first substance to try as a remedy. In one experiment the molasses were allowed to ferment spontaneously without the addition of lime, and with the additions of 6, 12, and 18 lbs. of dry lime to every 100 gallons of molasses, the lime being added as fresh milk of lime and well stirred in. The same experiment was repeated with sterile molasses into which a pure culture of yeast (c) had been introduced, but here only 3 and 6 lbs. of lime were used. The fresh molasses had a Brix of 90 and contained nearly 70 per cent, of sugars. After six weeks the Brix was determined and found to be as follows :—

The molasses alone fermented strongly with crude and pure yeasts from the outset. With 6 lbs. of lime there was no fermentation for nearly three weeks, when it started, but was much stronger in the pure yeast culture. 3 lbs. of lime in the pure yeast culture did not prevent fermentation from starting within a few days. With 12 lbs. of lime in the crude culture fermentation had only just started between the 5th and 6th week. With 18 lbs. of lime there was no growth of yeast and no fermentation. In the crude there was a maximum loss equal to 15 per cent, of the total sugar, and in the pure culture this loss exceeded 21 per cent. Lime in small amount was therefore capable of checking this fermentation for a time, 6 lbs. to 100 gallons being sufficient to preserve the molasses for nearly three weeks. As the lime gradually losses its alkalimity and goes into the neutral carbonate the fermentation starts afresh. As it is very undesirable to bring an alkaline molasses into a distillery wash as small an amount as possible should be used to check the foaming 6 lbs. of lime to 100 gallons molasses should be used at first, the lime being freshly stirred up into a milk with a few gallons of water, but only enough of the latter to admit of a thorough stirring into the molasses. If after a time foaming shows evidence of beginning again a further smaller amount of lime milk must be stirred in.

The yeast or ‘torula’ (c) ferments very sluggishly in a dilute molasses wash, and hardly at all in cane juice. Judging from the Experiments with the molasses, it is able to produce about 14 per cent, of proof spirit. It cannot invert cane sugar, and hence the feeble fermentation in cane juice, but only attacks the ready formed invert sugar in molasses.


As this yeast in pure culture gave a very marked flavour to washes in which it was fermenting some preliminary experiments were made with it in different media, the Rum distilled off and the Ethers determined therein. It was grown in three washes ;—

(i) Molasses and water Brix 15 Acidity .10
(2) Molasses, half dunder and water Brix 15 Acidity .34
(3) Tempered cane juice and one sixth dunder Brix 15 Acidity 20.

The yeast formed the dry wrinkled surface skin in a couple of days in all the washes, and multiplied abundantly, at the same time the fruity odour was very perceptible. Fermentation was very slow, the time required for the washes to die was;—

In spite of the very high ether content the rum had a pleasant fruity flavour with no trace of ‘pepperiness.’ These result were obtained by a simple distillation without any treatment of lees. The ethers consisted mainly of acetic ether, so that the yeast is able to produce both alcohol and acetic acid. There was no increase of ether production during distillation as a portion of (1) was neutralised before distilling and gave the same amount of ether as the un-neutralised part, namely 18.000.

The increase of acidity during fermentation was inconsiderable, a result which taken from the preceeding one makes it highly probable that ether formation does not occur by a merely chemical reaction in the wash, but takes place in intimate relation with the actively working yeast cell.

Further work is being done on this yeast with a view to its introduction into distillery practice.


Two perfectly different species of Acetic Acid Bacteria were isolated from acid skimmings and dead washes.

I. A form which appears quickly on dead washes both of low and high acidity. At first a delicate blue dry friable film which becomes white when strongly developed, but is always easily broken up. In a glass vessel the film climbs up the sides high above the surface of the liquid. It consists of short rather plump rods which stain yellow or yellowish brown with iodine, but never blue, and forms only short chains. It resembles Bacterium Kutzeanum of Hansen except in its inability to turn blue with iodine.

II. A Bacterium which forms a very tenacious cartilaginous skin in skimmings and dead washes, consisting of long narrow rods. The skin turns blue with iodine and sulphuric acid, and is in all respects similar to Bacterium Xylinum of A. Brown.

In order to observe the highest concentration of alcohol which admits of a development of acetic bacteria a dead wash holding 23 per cent, of proof spirit was exposed to the air. For six weeks there was no sign of an acetic film, and there was no rise in the acidity. Between the sixth and seventh week a film began to form and at this stage the liquor contained 14 per cent, proof spirit, 9 per cent, having evaporated away from the wash.

In another experiment a dead wash containing 24.7 per cent, of proof spirit was diluted with water in varying amounts and seeded with a pure culture of acetic bacterium I. The progress of acidification is shown in the following table, the figures representing the increase of acidity expressed as Sulphuric acid per cent.


More alcohol was added to c, d, and e, after three weeks, and the acid rose to 6.2, 5.8, and 5.3, respectively in another week, but showed no further increase. The greatest amount 01 acid produced was therefore equal to about 7.5 per cent, of pure acetic acid, the largest quantity which the bacterium could endure. The organism could not grow and work in 24.7 per cent of proof spirit, and showed only feeble activity in 16.5 per cent, but in 12.3 per cent, it worked strongly. The evidence shows therefore the amount of alcohol which can undergo vigorous acidification is between 12 and 16 per cent proof spirit, which agrees with the result of the first observation.

The theoretical maximum amount of acetic acid which could be formed from the alcohol in cultures c, d, and e, is 7.3, 5.9, and 4.9 per cent. The actual amounts formed in 20 days were 5.7, 5.2, and 4.6 so that
in c 78 per cent of the possible was formed,
”  d 89
”  e 94

The lower the amount of alcohol in a liquor, the more completely therefore is it oxidised to acetic acid. For practical purposes the highest acidity was reached in a fortnight at about 4 per cent. Bacterium II. proved to be unable to grow and produce acid in a dead wash containing 12 per cent proof spirit, but gave over three per cent acid in a liquor with 8 per cent proof spirit. This bacterium also makes greater claims upon the nitrogenous foodstuff in the liquor than bacterium I. Bacterium I. is therefore the characteristic acetic acid producer in all liquors containing 10 per cent and more of proof spirit, such as ordinary dead washes, while bacterium II. works best in liquors like fermented skimmings and fermented rum cane juice.

The following table shows the amounts of Total and Volatile acid (mostly acetic acid) and the relative amounts of volatile acid to total acid in some distillery liquors. Of special interest are the quantities of volatile acid in such materials as acid skimmings, and flavour, because in these liquors an attempt is made to produce as much volatile acid as possible. The volatile acid shows an average percentage of the total acid of from 22 to 27, or only about one quarter of the acid present is volatile. As the fresh skimmings which comes down from the boiling house are practically neutral the great part of the acid produced in the cisterns is the work of bacteria. Although the skimmings readily undergo fermentation, this is not entirely due to yeast, as the liquor is heavily contaminated by bacteria which produce fixed acids such as lactic from sugar. A number of such bacteria have been separated from the skimmings. They include the well known rice grain bacterium, which can nearly always be found in skimmings. It forms large rounded gelatinous masses when strongly developed consisting of enormous numbers of hand shaped colonies, the rod shaped bacteria being embedded at the ends of finger like processes of the jelly. This bacterium produces lactic acid and forms its jelly at the expense of the sugar present. Another rod shaped organism often develops in fresh cane juice contaminated by dirt from the mill or by soil, at a great rate, and converts the liquor in one day into a thick viscous mass in which yeast can only work very sluggishly. Gas and lactic acid are produced, the viscous substance being formed at the expense of the sugar. The presence of such objectionable organisms account for the poor yield of alcohol in skimmings, and the small amounts of volatile acid. Acetic acid bacteria are wholly dependant upon oxygen for their work of converting alcohol to acetic acid, and require therefore that the liquor in which they are working should expose as great a surface as possible to the air. This is only being imperfectly attained in distilleries even in the trash cisterns. It is proposed therefore to Experiment on a practical scale with a view to the more rapid and more abundant production of acetic acid from alcoholic liquors.


By S. F. ASHBY, B.Sc, Fermentation Chemist.

1. Useful Information’ Regarding Estate Distillery Materials.

Skimmings or Scummings—A mixture of liquor and solid matters skimmed from the surface of juice in clarifiers and coppers (if used) together with wash water from coppers, etc. The solid matter a mixture of pulverised cane fibre (trash), phosphate of lime, pectic and waxy matters, and coagulated albumen. According to the amount of solid matter and of dilution the gravity may vary when quite fresh from that of the juice (15-20 Brix) to under 10 Brix. The reaction to litmus is either neutral, faintly acid or faint alkaline.
Dunder—The liquor left in the still after distillation is completed. A yeast extract. The gravity varies according to materials fermented from under 10 Brix to over 25 Brix, and the same applies to the acidity which varies from about 1 per cent, to over 3 per cent. It is never free from sugar which varies from 0.2 per cent, to over 1 per cent. Sugars other than hexoses (pentoses) and allied bodies may be present which reduce Fehling’s solution but are not fermentable by yeast. On an average about 1 percent, of glycerine has been found in Dunder. It is never free from volatile acid.
Its high density is due to cane and yeast gum and caramel (especially if still is direct fired.)
Molasses—The sweet viscous syrup separated from the crystalized sugar by the centrifugals. It is markedly acid (about 0.5 per cent.) has a specific gravity of about 1.45, contains about 40 to (50 per cent, cane sugar, and 10 to over 20 per cent, glucose. One gallon (imperial) contains 8-10 pounds of fermentable sugar.
Acid—Skimmings, normal cane juice, or rum cane juice, allowed to sour. The production of acetic acid is the object sought. The volatile acidity rarely exceeds 40 per cent, of the total and is usually under one third the total.
The souring is carried out either with trash cisterns or without the addition of trash. The liquor ferments (yeast) and sours simultaneously.
Lees—The liquor left in the retorts after distillation is completed. It contains a high proportion of volatile acid.
Wash—The liquor (prepared from the mixed materials) which is actually fermented and distilled for rum. The mixing of the materials is called “setting up.” When fermenting it is “live” wash, and when fermentation has ceased it is “dead” wash.
Flavour and “Muck Hole”—(See description in first Sugar Experiment Report.)
Rum—The early portion of the alcoholic distillate; (the preliminary runnings if cloudy are rejected) its strength varies from 36 to over 40 proof as determined by the “bead.” It is water clear (white Rum). Before leaving the estate “Rum store” it is coloured by caramel boiled by the distiller. Each estate has its own standard of colour.
High Wines—The running from the still which follows the rum; collected to a strength of about 20 over proof.
Low Wines—The subsequent runnings collected till all alcohol has distilled over. The strength varies from 40 to 60 under proof.
Retorts—Copper vessels inserted between the still and the coil. The vapours from the still must pass through them. Most estates have one retort which contains the high wines of a preceding distillation. Some estates have both ”high wines” and “low wines” retorts, the latter next to the still. The retorts have a capacity of about 1-10 that of the still.
Low Wines Rum—Some estates with one retort (high wines) add the low wines to the wash in the still; other estates, however, distill the low wines independently (they run about one low wines still to 5 or 6 ordinary wash stills) and obtain “low wines rum” a product of inferior quality and price.

Types Of Rum.

The two main kinds of Rum are “Common Clean” and “Flavoured or German.” The individual estates confine themselves to the manufacture of one of these kinds. Nearly all the “Flavoured” Rum is made in the parish of Trelawny.

Common Clean Rum—may be divided into two kinds depending on the materials used.
1. From washes set up with a mixture of skimmings, dunder, molasses and water. The materials are not allowed to sour. Several estates with up-to-date boiling house plant (vaccuum pans, etc.) and a consequent large out put of skimmings and molasses employ this method. The materials must be used rapidly, and fermentation rendered of as short duration as possible. The wash is set up with 1/3 skimmings, 1/3 dunder, and molasses and water to give an initial gravity of about 10 Brix. The wash attenuates in about 4 days to 3 or 4 Brix. The initial sugar content is about 11-13 per cent, and the attenuation from 11-13 degrees. The rum is light in body and of low ether content, and is mainly consumed locally.
One or two estates which do not make sugar boil their juice and ferment it with dunder. (Appleton).
2. From washes set up from the same materials and also with “acid” prepared either from skimmings, rum cane juice or normal cane juice. The composition of the wash varies:—

The gravity of the setting depends largely on that of the dunder which varies from 10 to 20 Brix. As a rule the setting is not lower than 18 Brix. and may be as high as 24 Brix. The initial sugar content varies from 10 to 14 per cent, and the attenuation corresponds to that. The fermentation period depends on both the acidity of the dunder and on the quantity and acidity (especially the volatile) of the “acid.” The wash ferments from 5 to 9 days and is often allowed to lie for a couple of days when dead.

The only acid produced is evidently “acetic” and some of these rums may contain over 1,000 ethers (Swanswick, Long Pond) where much “acid” is used in the wash.

The yield of proof spirit is from 0.85 to 1.0 per cent, on the sugar fermented and on the attenuation 0.8 to 0.9 per degree. From 5 to 10 per cent, is lost in distillation.

The yield of rum 40 o.p. varies from 60 to 90 gallons per 1,000 gallons wash in still.

The fermenting cisterns (sunk in floor of distillery built of wood and backed by puddled clay) and vats are usually of 1,200 gallons capacity and the still will receive the contents of one cistern. Two stills are usually run per day (daylight). The stills are heated by steam coil or by direct fire. The rums made with ‘common clean’ materials vary in ether content from under 100 parts to over 1,000. Acetic ether is practically the only one present, and its amount depends entirely on the quantity of acid used in the washes and on the length of time the wash ferments and lies when “dead.”

Flavoured or German Rum.—These rums are made on estates having old fashioned boiling house plant where the manufacture of sugar is of secondary importance. The usual common clean materials are employed and in addition “flavoured.”

“Acid” is prepared from cane juice or skimmings in the usual way in a succession of trash cisterns. A “muck hole” outside the distillery is the receptacle for the thick matter deposited from the dunder, and the wash (dead wash bottom) to which is added cane trash and lees. The matter consists to a large extent of dead yeast and is therefore highly nitrogenous. It undergoes slow fermentation and putrefaction and its acidity is kept low by the addition of marl. When ripe it contains large amounts of butyric and higher fatty acids, both free and combined with lime. It is added to a series of acid cisterns outside the distillery where the butyric and other acids are set free. This complex acid material is the “flavour.” The flavour enters the wash after fermentation has begun owing to the presence of acids in it which are injurious to yeast, the fermentation is prolonged and the sugar is never very completely fermented out. Fermentation lasts 9 to 10 days and the dead wash lies for several days longer. An example of the kind of wash follows:—

This means a yield of 48 galls, rum per 1,000 galls, wash whereas the attenuation would indicate a yield of about 78 gallons. Only a portion of the high strength distillate is therefore collected as rum of first quality.

These rums show an ether content as a rule from 1,000 to 2,000. While over 95 per cent, of the total ethers is “acetic” there is always present several per cent, of butyric ether and still smaller amounts of esters of higher fatty acids (capryllic, caproic and lauric). Most of these rums find their way to Germany for blending and particularly for “stretching” potato or molasses spirits.


Yeasts.—Practically three yeasts perform all the conversion of sugar into alcohol in the Jamaica Distillery.
1. Bottom fermenting oval budding yeast.
2. Top fermenting chained fission yeast.
3. Bottom fermenting unchained fission yeast.

Oral budding yeast.—A typical bottom fermenting yeast the cells of which do not form chains. It is oval in shape and often rather pointed at one end. The average dimensions are 7.5-9 m long by 6-7 m. broad. It does not form a film on dead wash but at most a yeast ring. It forms spores on the gypsum block (as a rule four in a cell) in 24 hours at air temperature. It readily inverts and ferments cane sugar. This yeast is present on the rind of the cane and is always found in freshly milled juice. Spontaneous fermentation of juice is therefore always brought about by this yeast. In fresh juice it multiplies quickly and sets up a rapid fermentation. It displaces all other native yeasts in a favourable liquor like juice. The optimum temperature for its multiplication lies above 30 C. but it appears to ferment best at that initial temperature. It will work practically all the sugars out of an undiluted juice if not interfered with by acid-producing bacteria. The fermented liquor has an agreeable odour. In the experimental work at the Sugar Station Distillery where either cane juice or cane juice, molasses, and dunder are usually worked with, this yeast alone sets up and carries through normal fermentation.

On estates where the first type of common clean rum is made (i.e. without “acid “) this yeast possesses the wash owing to its properties of quick multiplication and rapid and intense fermentation. Such washes heat up quickly and temperatures as high as 108 F. have been observed. These high temperatures mean injury to the yeast, imperfect attenuation, and marked loss of alcohol by evaporation. Like most bottom fermenting kinds this yeast is markedly susceptible to unfavourable conditions such as poor food supply, excessive temperature and especially high acidity. Volatile acidity injuries it very readily (see experiments in second S.E.S. Report.)

It is injuriously affected by the fixed acids of dunder and works best where the initial acidity of the wash does not exceed 0.3 per cent. In washes with an initial acidity of 1 per cent and more it gradually gives place to more acid-resistent yeasts. On estates using acid the wash contains both this and fission yeasts, the relative proportion depending on the amount of acid employed. In common clean washes with an acidity exceeding 1.5 per cent, and a volatile acidity of 0.5 per cent, the writer found it entirely displaced by fission yeasts even quite early in the season.

Top Fermentiny Fission Yeast.—A typical top fermenting chained yeast. On washes of high acidity which are not working very intensely this yeast throws up a characteristic light or dark golden yellow thick moist creamy or fatty head which may completely cover the surface of the liquor. The bubbles of gas escaping through the head are cloudy. The head consists mainly of short, rectangular cells in chains of four or more, often in clumps and showing a kind of false branching. When shaken up in a wash the yeast forms into loose flocks which rapidly deposit. There is considerable variation in the size and shape of the cells: the size varies from 6-12 m by 4.5 to 5.5 m. and the chain cells are usually small viz., 6-7 m. long by 4.5 m. broad.

Spores are freely formed in the wash during fermentation. There are four oval spores in a cell and their walls stain blue with iodine (in iodide). The spores are very frequently found in bridge shaped sporangia formed by the reunion after division of two cells or by the union of two neighbouring cells. This yeast has a high optimum for multiplication and fermentation between 34 to 37 C. It endures high acidity (over 3 per cent. total) and is greatly more resistent to volatile acid than the budding yeast. At ordinary temperatures 24 to 27 C. the fermentation is slow but the sugar is efficiently worked out. In pure cultures the attenuation and the yield are as good as from the oval yeast.

In all washes of high total acidity (over 1 per cent.) and especially of high volatile acidity this yeast is generally present and often carries out the entire fermentation. It is the typical yeast of the “Flavoured Rum” washes.

Bottom Fermenting Fission Yeast.—This yeast produces no head in washes, the escaping bubbles being glassy clear. The cells are found single and in pairs, and when the wash is stirred the cells distribute themselves in a fine clay-like suspension, which clears slowly. The cells are variable in shape and size averaging 6-14 m. long by 4-5.5 broad. Spores are formed with the top yeast.

This yeast has a somewhat lower optimum temperature than the top yeast, and like most bottom yeast yields markedly less substance and is more susceptible to external factors than the top yeast. It is often found in acid washes together with the top yeast. It increases more rapidly and ferments more strongly than the top yeast at ordinary temperatures. The attenuation and yield of alcohol in pure cultures are the same as for the top yeast; it appears to leave more unfermented sugar in the dead wash. In a sample of soured cane juice having a total acidity of 2.1 per cent., and a volatile acidity of 0.90 per cent, this yeast alone was found. In the wash set up with this “acid” having an acidity of 1.6 per cent, and over 0.50 volatile, the top yeast was the characteristic worker. It would seem that in highly acid washes the more resistant top yeast gradually increases with the advance of the season. Comparative experiments with these two fission yeasts in Laboratory washes at air temperature indicate that the bottom yeast ferments the wash in one or two days less time.

A bottom yeast with slightly top phenomena has also been isolated. It forms no chains but the cells agglutinate more than the typical bottom yeast. In its properties it comes between the two extremes.

The undermentioned yeasts isolated from distillery materials play no evident part in the actual fermentation of washes.

Fruit Ether Yeast.—Isolated from ”foaming” molasses. Forms a dry white friable wrinkled film on material containing sugar. A small oval budding yeast with cells very variable in size. Forms spores on the gypsum block in 18-24 hours at air temperature. The spores are “hat shaped.” The yeast is therefore an “anomalus” variety (Willia anomala). It inverts and ferments cane sugar and will ferment diluted molasses over 50 Brix.

Produces a very high amount of acetic ether, the distilled wash containing from 12,000 to 40,000 ethers. The fermentation is slow occupying two weeks or more to attenuate 12. In ordinary washes it is easily displaced by more active yeasts. (See second S.E.S. Report, and experimental data in Laboratory records).

Pastorianus Yeast.—Isolated from “foaming” molasses. A top fermenting yeast which forms spores abundantly on the gypsum block in 18 hours. Will ferment diluted molasses of 50 Brix. Inverts and ferments cane sugar but is easily surpassed by the oval budding yeast and fission yeast in appropriate washes. It yields a fermented product of good aroma and has been used successfully in the preparation of orange wine.

Torula from Molasses.—Does not form spores and cannot invert and ferment cane sugar. A small chained oval or spherical yeast which ferments the glucose in molasses of the highest gravity. The cause of “foaming” (see second S.E.S. Report)

Large celled Oval Yeast.—A spore-forming top fermenting yeast which works badly in estates’ washes.

Ludwig’s Yeast—Found occasionally in small amount in fermenting cane juice and also present in “acid” (Long Pond and Swanswick). Is probably present on the cane. Corresponds in size, division, and spore formation to Saccharomyces ludwigii.

Mycoderma Species.—Commonly present as grey and white wrinkled films on dunder, sour skimmings, and dead washes which are allowed to lie two or more days. Produce no fermentation, but oxidize alcohol to carbonic acid and water. No spores formed.

Culture Media.—The medium which had answered well for the cultivation of all yeasts is a cane juice peptone broth. Prepare as follows:— Fresh cane juice is tempered with milk of lime, heated to the boiling point and filtered. Care must be taken to avoid excess of lime or the liquor will darken excessively. This liquor may be transferred to a Carlsberg Can and boiled for half an hour on two successive days to sterilize it.
The medium has the composition:—
tempered cane juice 100
peptone 0.5
potassium phosphate 0. 05-0.1

The cane juice should first be diluted to 13-14 Brix. The broth is heated in the steamer and filtered and then rendered distinctly acid with Hydrochloric acid or Lactic acid. The acidity should be between 0.05 and 0.1 per cent. If not clear the medium is allowed to stand a day and filtered again. It is distributed into Frendenreich flasks (a few o.c. in each) and sterilized by heating ½ hour in the steamer (Koch’s) on three successive days.

To prepare a solid medium 1.5 per cent, agar is dissolved in the broth. The medium should have a more or less pale sherry tint and should not be reddish brown.

Media containing dunder are very dark and difficult to clear. The acid of dunder affects the solidifying power of agar. 10 to 15 per cent of gelatin may be used instead of agar but cultures must then be kept in the cool incubator at 20 to 22 C. The yeasts grow much better in the cane juice medium than in a purely artificial one. The oval budding yeast retains its vitality well in the cane juice broth for over a year. The fission yeasts die out more easily but living cells are present in fair numbers after twelve months.

Fermentation experiments are carried out in flasks containing 1 litre of wash and plugged with cotton wool. Washes with an acidity exceeding .7 per cent, are generally sterile after ½ hour steaming. The progress of fermentation is determined by daily weighing, the loss being taken as carbonic acid.

The following factors are determined in all experiments (Laboratory or distillery).

The wash should be quite dead and the yeast well settled. If yeast is suspended the spindle gives a reading 0.15 to 0.4 too high. After 48 hours the reading will be correct. The weight of sugar fermented is very closely double the loss of weight.

On estates the Arnaboldi or Jamaica Saccharometer is still frequently employed. It is corrected for 80 F. and gives a reading roughly half as high again as the Brix spindle.

Sending Yeasts To Estates.

At the start of crop the distiller gets a spontaneous fermentation in whatever liquor he can get. This is either skimmings, cane juice of low gravity and purity (rum cane juice) or, if he is fortunate, fresh juice from the first mill. Dunder left from the preceding season is often used to mix with the juice. This dunder often contains matters which inhibit or interfere with the growth of the yeast. It is improved by vigorous boiling with or without the addition of lime. As soon as he has molasses and fresh dunder he can set up a normal wash. If he has to start on skimmings they often contain very little or very feeble yeast, and easily get spoilt by bacteria which render them ropy or viscous. Much difficulty is therefore often experienced in getting a good start to fermentation. In any case the yeast which develops is the oval budding kind. If “acid ” is made and used from the outset in quantity the oval yeast frequently works badly and gives place gradually to the more suitable fission yeasts. In the meantime there may be loss by bad attenuation and accumulation of materials.

In sending yeasts to estates at the start of each crop the object of the Laboratory had been to get in suitable yeasts from the outset and curtail the period of uncertainty. For estates not making “acid” the oval budding yeast, and for estates making acid—one or both of the fission yeasts.

Yeasts were sent to a few estates in December 1907, and January 1908, to still more in December 1908 and January 1909, and to over twenty estates in December 1909 and January and February 1910.

The following estates got yeast this crop:—

Yeasts are required from the middle of December to the middle of February. The estates taking them later had really started weeks earlier. The number of Common Clean Estates willing to test the yeasts could doubtless be doubled for the crop 1910-1911. They would need to be circularized in November.

Preparation Of Yeasts For Estates.

The yeast is first grown in the Frendenreich flasks in the cane juice broth. Two or three transfers should be made when fermentation has almost ceased; ½ c.c. suffices after shaking up the liquor. This is done with sterile pipettes in the glass chamber after washing down the latter with 2 per 1,000 mercuric chloride solution,; 5 c.c. are then added to 60 c.c. sterile wash in small Pasteur flasks. After fermenting in these flasks for 3 to 4 days they are shaken up and the whole liquor poured into flasks plugged with cotton wool containing 1 litre sterile wash. When fermentation has nearly ceased these flasks are shaken and the liquor poured into large flasks containing 10 to 12 litres sterile wash. The wash is allowed to die completely and the yeast permitted to settle out (24 hours after wash is dead). The covering liquor is then poured carefully away and only sufficient left to give a thick muddy suspension when the yeast is is shaken up with it. The mixture is poured on to moistened filter paper in Buchner funnels and the moisture drawn out as effectively as possible by means of the Geryk air pump. The yeast and the filter paper are lifted out, wrapped in dry filter paper with a covering of glazed paper, packed in a small tin with cotton wool and mailed by Letter Post to the Post Office nearest the estate without delay. The estate must be advised to get the yeast working on the day of arrival.

The washes in the Pasteur, litre, and large flasks should, for preference, be set up from a mixture of molasses, dunder and water, using 1/3 to 1/2 dunder (according to its acidity and gravity). The gravity of the wash should be such that it will attenuate 12 if allowed completely to die. The Pasteur and litre should have added to them 0.2 per cent, asparagin, and the wash in the large flasks 0.1 to 0.2 per cent, ammonium citrate or ammonium sulphate. In the absence of molasses muscovado sugar or concentrated cane juice may be used. If neither dunder or molasses are available the wash may be set up with muscovado sugar and citric acid (1 per cent, of a gravity of 12 Brix). To this should be added .2 per cent, asparagin for the Pasteur and litre washes, and .2 per cent, ammonium citrate for the large flasks, .05 per cent, potassium phosphate should also be added.

Before adding the yeast the wash should be warmed to 30 C. The litre and large flasks should be packed round with saw dust or better fibre packing to keep up the temperature and make the fermentation more uniform. The flasks containing the litre washes should be weighed daily to judge if fermentation is vigorous and normal. If a yeast is to go to several estates within a short period a little may be kept back in the large flasks after decanting off the dead liquor and this will serve to start another large flask (or more than one). Before sending away, a little of the yeast should be examined under the microscope to observe if it is true to its type and free from living bacteria.

Directions For Working The Yeasts On The Estates.

Set up ten gallons of fresh wash in a clean keg; the wash to consist of dunder 1/3 molasses and water, and to be of such a gravity as to give an attenuation of 12-13 Brix (18-19 Arnaboldi) if the wash were allowed to die completely. The temperature should be 86-88 F. Stir in the yeast, cover the keg and allow to stand in a warm place. When this wash has lost 9-10 Brix (14-15 Arnaboldi) by attenuation, stir up properly and pour the entire liquor into 50 gallons fresh wash. When this has attenuated to a like extent stir up and pour the whole into 500 gallons freshly set wash. When this is working well (after 24-36 hours) make up to 1,000 – 1,200 gallons. A freshly set 1,000 gallon wash can be started again from that by adding to it 50- 75 gallons when the attenuation has fallen 9-10 Brix and after thoroughly stirring up. The yeast can be got through the distillery more rapidly by keeping back 10 gallons of the fermenting 50 gallon wash and using it to start a fresh 50 or 100 gallon wash in the same puncheon (with the head knocked out) which may be poured into 1,000 gallons when it has attenuated 9-10 Brix. Skimmings should not be used in setting up wash except in the last 500 gallons.

When circularising the estates they should be asked if they propose to use “acid” in the coming crop. Content, Kent, Cinnamon Hill. Running Gut, Ironshore, Gale’s Valley, and Swanswick have already employed the top fission yeast with success. Catherine Hall, Albion and Parnassus would be best suited with the oval budding yeast. Sevens, Spring, Appleton, Denbigh, Bog and Llandovery, Green Park and probably the Belleisle Estate Co. might get both oval and bottom fission yeasts. Orange Valley should get both fission yeasts. If two yeasts are sent together the distiller should be advised to grow- them separately in 10 and 50 gallons and then pour the two 50 gallon washes together into 1,000 gallons of ordinary estate wash. The yeast better adapted to the conditions would then get the upper hand.


Acetic Bacteria.—Forming a film on liquors containing alcohol oxidizing it to acetic acid. They can be isolated from dead washes, “acid,” etc., by means of cane juice peptone agar to which 2 per cent, of alcohol has been added. The commonest forms are B. kutzingianum (or an allied species), B. xylinum and B. xylinoides. The first named does not give the blue stain with iodine. It forms a blue to white delicate very friable ascending film and clouds the liquor strongly. (For experiments with this species see second S.E.S. Report and Laboratory records). B. xylinum develops the characteristic tough thick white skin on any nonfermenting liquor containing cane sugar and not less than 10 per cent, proof spirit.

B. xylinoides forms a very similar skin on “acid” and liquor containing over 10 per cent, proof spirit. One or more of these species are always present in fermenting cane juice or estate washes and cause a rise of acidity by forming gluconic acid from sugar. When the wash is dying and especially when it is dead they produce acetic acid.

Saccharobacillus pastorianus has also been found in fermenting washes and especially in soured skimmings and cane juice. It is present as long narrow rods often covered with small particles of matter deposited on them from the liquor. The liquor is strongly clouded and the bacteria cause the appearance of silky waves. This organism grows freely in the presence of alcohol and therefore increases with the yeast during fermentation. In cane juice broth it gave rise to 0.8 per cent, total acidity of which 30-35 percent, was volatile (acetic). The fixed acid is lactic acid.

“Acid. “—This is prepared either from skimmings or cane juice by allowing them to ferment and sour in special cisterns. As a rule trash is added to the liquor which on some estates is pumped into a succession of cisterns in each of which an increase of acidity occurs. The acidity of the ripe acid rarely exceeds 2.5 per cent, and of this as a rule less than 1/3 is volatile. The highest volatile acidity hitherto observed was 0.9 per cent, out of a total acidity of 2.1 or about 43 per cent. The liquor is fermented by yeast (oval or bottom fission) and the acid increases rapidly at the same time. This increase frequently stops attenuation when several per cent, of sugar is still present. Hence “acid ” shows a most variable gravity according to the relative activities of the yeast and bacteria. The amount of acid formed is the same whether attenuation has been good or bad. (See data in Laboratory records on Swanswick “acid.”) The trash not only infects the liquor with bacteria but increases aeration. It also seems to carry on a strong infection when fresh juice is added. No marked film forms on the acid so that the acetic bacteria do not have a chance to unfold their full oxidizing activities. B. xylinoides, B. xylinum and Saccharobacillus pastorianus have been isolated from ripe acid.

The acetic bacteria form gluconic and acetic acids. The Saccharobacillus form lactic and acetic acids. The fixed acidity preponderates. (See first and second S.E.S. Reports.)

Jelly and Slime forming Bacteria.— Certain species readily form jelly and slime in weakly acid liquors containing cane sugar. Skimmings and cane juice often undergo a viscous fermentation with the production of gas and the skimmings may frequently be drawn out into long threads (ropy skimmings). This condition interferes with the yeast fermentation which is prolonged and incomplete.

The liquor shows the presence of small cocci single, paired and less frequently in chains. The viscous or ropy condition of the liquor is due to the very diffluent cell walls of the bacteria. The acidity produced in cane juice does not exceed 0.3 per cent, a trace of which is volatile. The growth on cane juice agar is very moist and slimy but no slime is produced on ordinary glucose agar. In glucose broth the chains are very marked so that the organism is a true Streptococcus.

Growth is very rapid in cane juice at 27-40 C. A nonslimy variety has also been isolated. The condition is most marked at the start of crop in both cane juice and skimmings and is due to dirt from the cane and the mill. Owing to its slimy capsule the Streptococcus is not destroyed during tempering in the clarifiers. Thorough cleaning of gutters and skimmings boxes and diluting the hot skimmings with cold water have successfully checked this condition.

Rice Grain.—This occurs not infrequently in washes on estates where no acid is employed. The wash becomes almost filled with gelatinous spherical grains about 1 mm. to 2 m.m. in diameter. The fermentation by the yeast is prolonged and often incomplete. It is caused by a rather thick rodshaped bacterium 1.5-3m by 1 m. Three varieties of this organism have been isolated (see Laboratory records). It strongly resembles the Bacterium vermiforme of Marshall Ward (ginger beer plant). In cane juice the acidity does not exceed .2 per cent. It grows rapidly at 30 C. and just as well in cane juice with 6 per cent, of alcohol by volume as in cane juice without alcohol.

It produces no change in litmus milk and grows out into long more or less cocoid chains without gelatinous sheath in glucose broth. It probably enters the wash from the skimmings.

This organism evidently does not injure the yeast by means of its chemical products. Its interference is physical as the gelatinous masses attach themselves to the yeast cells and grow over them excluding the yeast from contact with the liquor and preventing the cells from rising and whirling in the wash, a condition necessary for active fermentation. A similar kind of interference must be attributed to the streptococcus of viscous ropy skimmings or juice.

Termo bacteria, B. subtilis and B. mesentericus vulgatus have been found in cane juice. These motile forms have not been closely investigated.

The ethers varied from 30,653 to 46,030, and consisted almost wholly of acetic ether. As the ether was formed at the expense of alcohol the yields must be regarded as satisfactory particularly that for the molasses wash to which ammonium sulphate was added. The acid of dunder appears to have an injurious effect on this yeast. Chemical esterification in such liquors could not account for the enormous amount of ether produced. It is evident that both alcohol and acetic acid are formed in the yeast cells by the enzymes, zymase, and oxydase (the latter probably the same enzyme as the oxydase of the acetic bacteria) and are at once brought into union by another enzyme, the whole process occurring within the cell. Certain acetic bacteria are known to yield a vinegar containing a marked amount of acetic ether while other species are quite unable to do so. A yeast is also known which oxydises alcohol to acetic acid and some nonfermenting mycodermas are capable of producing acetic ether in alcoholic liquors. The cells of some species contain, therefore, only the oxydase, others both oxydase and ether producing ferment (esterase). Some of the mycodermas and acetic bacteria which form films on dead washes in Jamaica distilleries may esterify in the way indicated although such forms have not as yet, been isolated in the Laboratory.

Experiments With Fission Yeasts In Dunder And Concentrated Cane Juice Wash.

The juice was boiled down to the consistency of thick syrup without any tempering. The dunder was derived from cane juice and dunder washes from which all alcohol had not been distilled out. This dunder, therefore, had undergone some souring, and was rather high in volatile acidity.—

The yeasts were first grown in a mixture of the cane juice and dunder without added water in sterilized flasks containing 1 litre.

Bottom and top fission yeasts were employed. The wash died in 6 days with bottom yeasts; the wash died in 7 days with top yeasts.

The yeast sediment was then added to 10 litres in large flasks: —

The bottom yeast washes were again dead in 6 days, and the top yeast washes in 7 days.

In this experiment both bottom and top yeasts gave identical attenuations and yields. In spite of the high volatile acidity (45 per cent, of the total) the washes were rapidly (6 and 7 days) worked down with little residual sugar and with excellent results on attenuation and sugar fermented. The rums were high in ethers. Even when distilled as soon as the wash was dead, the rum contained 971 ethers and when the dead wash was allowed to lie six days they were increased to 1404. In washes high in volatile acidity considerable esterification occurs during actual fermentation, and is again greatly increased when the dead wash is allowed to lie.

Grown in pure culture in sterile wash, the top yeast does not yield a rum of higher ether content than the bottom yeast.

Experiment With Poor Dunder.

Washes in litre flasks were set up with dunder water and muscovado sugar.

Oval and fission yeasts were used; the same amount of yeast was added to the sterile wash (in 1 litre flasks) in cash each. To some flasks 10 c.c. of 10% asparagin solution was added at the outset. The loss in weight day by day was as follows:—

The fermentation was normal active with both oval and  fission yeasts in the presence of asparagin. In the absence of asparagin the yeasts scarcely multiplied and the fermentation was very feeble. When, however, asparagin was added on the third day to the latter cultures multiplication set in, and 48 hours later they were fermenting strongly.

These results show clearly that washes set up with a poor dunder are often deficient in nitrogenous food for the yeast with the result that attenuation is feeble and incomplete. In practice such washes are quickly overrun by bacteria, show rapid increase in acidity and become still more unsuited for a vigorous yeast fermentation. In the experimental distillery washes set up with similar dunder worked and attenuated very feebly; 24 hours after addition of 0.15 per cent, ammonium sulphate (equal to 15 lbs. per 1,000 gallons wash) they began to work vigorously and showed a normal attenuation.

Distillery Experiment.

The following experiment selected from a number of such carried out in the Experimental Distillery in 1908, will show what the Jamaica fission yeast are capable of yielding under well regulated conditions.
The fission yeast was of the bottom fermenting type.

It was first developed in a molasses and dunder sterile wash in a flask containing 12 litres (nearly 3 gallons). The yeast was then added to 10 gallons of similar wash in a keg after sterilizing the latter with superheated steam and cooling it to 86 F. When fermentation was almost completed in the keg the contents were stirred up and the liquor added to 50 gallons fresh wash (not sterilized) in a puncheon. When fermentation has started a further 50 gallons wash was added and fermentation allowed to proceed till the wash was quite dead.

The was dead in from 4 to 5 days.

The wash was divided into two portions; the first was distilled for high and low wines (the retorts also receiving charges of wash). The high and low wines were used in toto to charge the retorts for the second distillation 42 gallons wash being introduced into the still.

Taking 6 gallons of rum for every 1° attenuation per 1000 gallons wash as an ordinary average yield 80.4 gallons rum would have been expected on that basis; the actual yield was however 7 per cent, in excess of that amount and must therefore be regarded as highly satisfactory. The above yields are expressed in imperial gallons. In terms of wine gallons the figures are 1-5th. higher, viz., ordinary average yield 96.5 wine gallons. Actual yield 103.2 wine gallons.

Observations Of Estate Materials.

The following determinations made on materials at the estate and on samples at the Laboratory illustrate the composition of dead washes, dunder, and “acids” produced in some “Common Clean” distilleries where rums are made containing 900—1200 parts of ethers per 100,000 alcohol. On such estates no “flavour” is employed so that the ethers in the rums consist wholly or almost wholly of acetic ether.

The acidity of the ripe “acid” varied from 1.9-2.4 per cent, and the gravity from 3.5-10 Brix.

The “Rice Grain” Bacterium.

This organism with remarkably gelatinized cell walls has been already referred to as causing trouble in “common clean” washes particularly in distilleries where only fresh materials are fermented and no “acid” is made.

A sample of dead wash containing the organism was after appropriate dilution plated out in cane juice peptone agar. After some days a variety of colonies including those of yeasts appeared in the medium. Three different types of more or less gelatinous colonies of bacteria could be distinguished.

1. Of no particular shape, raised into a mass and breaking through the agar by rupturing it. These colonies at the surface were smooth, milky, dull and pasty and easily rubbed into a milky homogeneous suspension in water. Such a suspension showed under the microscope small flat, or irregular spherical gelatinous grams about 18-20 microns in diameter and free from any tendency to coalesce with each other. The flat grains showed a more or less circular outline with alternating deep and shallow depressions as indicated in the figure. Embedded in the jelly near the ends of the arms formed by the main depressions and transverse to the surface were two more highly refracting rods separated by the secondary depressions. The almost spherical grains had a convoluted appearance with a fundamentally similar structure, the rods being also transverse to the surface at the ends of the involved arms. This condition was evidently the final state of development of the grain. The resultant appearance was due to the division of rods with gelatinous cell walls, having the property of gelatinous thickening on one side particularly.

The rods are coloured yellow by aqueous iodine in iodide with darker staining granules; the jelly is hardly tinged. The aniline stains colour the rods intensely but do not affect the jelly. The individual rods vary much in length especially in the spheres where they are elongated into threads exceeding 10 micron. The minimum length is 1.5 microns and the breadth about 1 micron. In cane juice peptone broth the organism increases to a finely granular loose deposit in three days at air temperature but multiplies markedly more rapidly at blood heat. The deposit is easily brought into suspension by snaking whereby the minute flocks (grains) are rendered just visible to the naked eye. The liquor overlying the deposit is practically clear. The liquid culture shows a similar appearance under the microscope as the agar material.

Perfectly free rods are not to be found, hence the clearness of the overlying liquor. The organism grows as rapidly and abundantly in cane juice broth containing 6 per cent, alcohol by volume as in broth free from alcohol. The increase of acidity in the broth (equal to 0.1 per cent, at the beginning) does not exceed 0.25 per cent, and only a trace of this is volatile. The acid formed is probably lactic. Gas production is absent or doubtful. In litmus milk the organism produces no change in fourteen days. In nutrient broth and in glucose broth (containing 0.5 per cent glucose) growth is slow with formation of a flocky white deposit. Under the microscope long chains of short rods (almost coccoid) are visible without gelatinous envelopes. The chains grow out from the rods embedded in the grains of the inoculation material, the individual cells being 1.2-1 .5 microns in diameter.

2. Spheres with rough (facetted) surface, translucent, shining, and gelatinous like the agar. The spheres break through the agar and split it into radiating rents. The masses are at least 1 Millimetre in diameter and as a rule from 1-2 m.m. The whole sphere can be lifted away on the loop of the platinum needle. In water it cannot be reduced to a homogeneous suspension but breaks into fragments of jelly. Under the microscope the fragments of jelly are very irregular. The structure is however, very similar (though greatly more irregular) to that of the grains of No. 1. The rods are either transverse at the ends of gelatinous arms or they may be equally gelatinized on both sides. By the rupture of the jelly, the rods often project freely. The length of the rods is very variable, long threads up to 50 microns being frequent. The diameter like No. 1 is almost 1 micron.

In cane juice peptone broth this organism increases by the formation of large irregular masses of jelly or by a gelatinous deposit difficult to raise and then breaking into lumps of jelly. The liquor is distinctly cloudy which is due to the presence of large numbers of free cells with or without gelatinous capsules. The cells are often paired and also form chains of three to ten or more cells. This form also grows equally freely in juice containing 6 percent, alcohol and behaves quite similarly to No. 1 in litmus milk, nutrient broth and glucose broth. The increase of acidity in cane juice broth is also under .25 per cent, and growth at blood heat likewise very rapid.

Grown in conjunction with a bottom fission yeast, both organisms increase freely and the fermentation is 1-2 days more prolonged than in pure yeast culture. The physical interference of the organism with the yeast has been already referred to.

3. Colonies on the surface, transparent, convex, watery (mucoid, not ropy), entire, round and shining. Where colony has broken to the surface a central gelatinous mass, showing under the microscope similar but less marked gelatinous fragments as No. 2 with rods similarly embedded.

The watery part of the colony under the microscope shows rods, single paired and chained with or without an indistinct gelatinous capsule equally developed all round the cells.

In cane juice broth the organism forms an abundant translucent deposit and the liquor is still more cloudy than with No. 2. When shaken up the liquor becomes opaque due to an abundant homogeneous suspension. The dimensions of the rods are the same as for 1 and 2. Its behaviour in litmus milk, nutrient broth and glucose broth is also quite similar. In cane juice broth with 6 per cent, of alcohol the growth was less rapid than in the broth alone. The increase of acidity in cane juice was also under .25 per cent.

The appearance of the colonies applies also to the cane juice agar slants. On this medium each of the three types shows its characteristic growth. It is evident that the three forms are varieties of the same organism. In No. 1 the development of the grain is much more limited than in No. 2. In No. 3 the jelly is less robust and more diffluent, and may be compared with agar which has lost its property of solidifying by heating in a strongly acid liquor. Reference has already been made to the strong resemblance particularly of variety No. 2 to Bacterium Vermiforme of Marshall Ward.

Orange Wine.

Enquiries from several sources came to the Laboratory in the autumn of 1907 and again in the spring of 1908, as to the best way of making orange wine by direct fermentation of the sweetened juice. No experiments had at that time been carried out in connection with the orange wine making and there appeared to be no literature on the subject. The so-called orange wine on the market appeared to consist of diluted rum flavoured with orange essence (or the essential oil from the rind), and highly sweetened. This was more in the nature of a cordial or liqueur and could not be regarded as in any way a true wine.

A preliminary experiment was therefore started in March and April 1908.

A bottom fermenting fission yeast was selected to carry out the fermentation owing to the known resistant properties of fission yeast in general. In order to acclimatize the yeast to a liquor containing a high proportion of citric acid it was first grown in a mixture of molasses, water, and citric acid; the composition was—

The yeast attenuated this wash in four days to 2 Brix, and while it was still working 100 c.c. was used to start a fresh wash prepared from orange juice.

The orange juice was obtained by squeezing the juice of ripe oranges with the rind entirely removed, through a linen cloth.

Gravity of juice—13.8 Brix.
Acidity of juice—1.08 per cent.

To 1,500 c.c. of this unsterilized must, in which cane sugar had been dissolved was added (as stated above) 100 c.c. of the fermenting wash containing the fission yeast. The gravity fell in 7 days from 23.5 to 0.5 Brix, and the final acidity was 1.18 per cent.

After allowing the greater part of the yeast to settle out, the still very cloudy wine was decanted off and bottled. The bottles were filled almost to the corks which were sealed with paraffin. The bottles stood at air temperature for 8 months during which the wine had become perfectly clear and of a dark sherry colour.

The wine had a pleasant aroma of orange and an agreeable though rather marked acid taste. The palatability of the dry wine was improved by the addition of 10 per cent, pure white cane sugar. After this addition the wine was readily appreciated when drunk alone and was also found to be very refreshing beverage when consumed with the addition of two parts of Soda Water. It was pointed out, however, that this wine was not so strongly flavoured as that made by orange growers, and this was attributed to the fact that the oranges had not been squeezed with the rinds still on. The usual practice was to cut the entire oranges into quarters and squeeze out the juice in a wooden press operated by hand. In this way a part of the essential oil contained in the outer rind was set free and entered the juice. To this juice it was customary to add a small proportion of lemon juice (a sample showed a gravity of 10.4 Brix and an acidity of 3. 25 per cent.) to improve the flavour and increase the acidity. White albion sugar was then dissolved in the juice until the gravity was raised to 22-24 Brix. To get this must fermenting a “starter” was then added.

This was prepared by mixing muscovado sugar with warm water to a gravity of about 15 Brix and allowing this to set up a spontaneous fermentation occasioned by the cells and spores of yeasts contained in the sugar. As soon as this was working strongly it was poured into the orange must. If a successful fermentation was set up in the must the latter worked for one to two weeks and finally stopped before all the sugar was worked out, or was intentionally stopped by decanting off the liquor from the yeast deposit. It was pointed out that this method of fermenting the must had some disadvantages namely:—

1. The “starter” spoiled the natural flavour of the wine owing to the characteristic taste of the sugar used.
2. Fermentation often failed in the must after the addition of the “starter” or the fermentation rapid at first fall away quickly and left a product containing insufficient alcohol and too much sugar. This cleared badly and often turned sour (vinegar).

A pure culture yeast acclimatized to orange juice at the Laboratory appeared therefore to offer the most promising solution to the problem. The fission yeasts, well suited to acid distillery washes do not give a pleasant aroma to fermented must. On the other hand a pastorianus yeast isolated from molasses was found to yield a product of very agreeable aroma. It has therefore been employed in the experiments detailed below. Some preliminary work with this yeast indicated that one or more substances contained in the rind of the orange exercised an injurious effect on it when present in the juice from the outset. Juice was accordingly prepared from the fruit after removing the rind. When fermentation was active the liquor obtained by squeezing the rinds separately was added in order to increase the flavour of the finished product.

The yeast was first grown in a wash of molasses, citric acid and ammonium phosphate, then in a mixture of that wash with increasing amounts of orange juice and finally added to the orange juice must. The juice as squeezed from the fruit showed—
Gravity—11. 85 Brix.
Acidity—1. 12 per cent.

The gravity of this juice was increased to 20 Brix by the addition of white crystal sugar, and 0.1 per cent, ammonium citrate added. To start this must one-tenth its volume of a fermenting juice was added which had been attenuated by the pastorianus yeast from 19 Brix to 8.3 Brix. Two days after fermentation began one-sixth of its volume of liquor squeezed from the rinds alone was added. The gravity fell from 20 Brix to 0.3 Brix in 11 days and the must was then dead. After the bulk of the yeast had settled the wine was bottled and kept at air temperature for 15 months. An examination of the perfectly clear dark sherry coloured wine after that period yielded the following figures:—
Acidity—0.64 per cent.
Alcohol as proof spirit—21.43 per cent.

The wine had a fine sherry like aroma and was very palatable after the addition of 10 per cent, cane sugar.

Another must fermented by the same yeast a week later was set up from a juice of—
Gravity—12.05 Brix.
Acidity—1. 18 per cent.

Sugar was added to raise the gravity to 20.8 Brix. This must underwent a more prolonged fermentation and ceased to work with an appreciable amount of sugar unfermented. The must attenuated from 20.8 Brix to 2.8 Brix in 24 days. It was then bottled and cleared very slowly. Fifteen months later the perfectly clear wine showed:—
Total acidity—1.10 per cent.
Volatile acidity—0.15 per cent.
Alcohol as P.S.—18.57 per cent.
In aroma and taste it scarcely differed from the other wine.

When fresh juice is allowed to ferment spontaneously it works slowly and finally dies before all the sugar is fermented. A white dry film usually forms on the surface consisting of mycoderma or a species of Monilia while Apiculatus yeast is often abundant in the deposit. The Apiculatus yeast can only ferment the invert sugar and leaves the cane sugar untouched. As the juice contains about half the total sugar as cane sugar the attenuation stops half way.

A juice worked for 6 days and attenuated from 11.85 to 6.45 and went no further. In another portion of the juice a little added fission yeast reduced the gravity from 11.70 to 1.75 Brix owing to the power of inverting the cane sugar.

When used in larger bulks (10-15 gallons) of sweetened orange juice prepared by pressing the oranges with the rind on, the pastorianus yeast has several times failed to yield a satisfactory fermentation, results which raised the question as to whether this yeast is really well adapted for working in sweetened juice as usually set up. Fermentation certainly sets in more rapidly and vigorously if the sugar is previously melted in hot water to a consistency of syrup and then raised to the boiling point after the addition of 5 per cent. citric acid. This causes the inversion of the bulk of the sugar. The first experiment indicates that the fission yeasts work readily in sweetened juice and it will probably be safer to employ such yeasts in spite of the fact that they do not yield such a good flavoured wine.

The data set out in this paper must be regarded as of the pioneering order and should prove useful as a start in the solution of the difficulties connected with the making of genuine orange wine.

Orange Vinegar.

This is a product with which the wine maker has often hail involuntary acquaintance. About 2½ gallons of an excellent vinegar have been made at the Laboratory in the following way:—
Juice was extracted from the fruit freed from rind.
The gravity was:—10.6 Brix.
Acidity—0.80 per cent.

To this was added sugar inverted by boiling with 2% citric acid. The gravity of the sweetened must was 16.5 Brix. It was pitched with the pastorianus yeast. After 9 days the liquor was dead and showed a gravity of 0.5 Brix. It was allowed to stand in a large flask with a loosely fitting cotton wool plug. After a few weeks an acetic film developed on the liquor and after a further month this had broken up and the liquor was fairly clear.

The total acidity was—5.35 per cent.
Volatile acidity—4.0 per cent.
equal to nearly 5 per cent, of acetic acid. The vinegar was rendered practically clear by filtration through cellulose (filter or blotting paper pulped in water).

Yeast Cultures In Cane Juice Peptone Broth.

Inoculated 20 May, 1910. Frendenreioh flasks.

1. Beer yeast from Jorgensen’s Laboratory, Copenhagen maintained in cane juice broth at Hope. Sets up a speedy fermentation after 12 months in the broth. Used in top fermenting breweries in Denmark. Has been employed successfully in Kingston in a wort of brown sugar, hops and water.
2. American whisky yeast—same source—dextrin fermenting power not tested.
3. Sacchs. thermantitonum—same source—an oval building yeast, with an alleged high optimum temperature for both growth and fermentation. This strain shows nothing striking in those respects.
4. Bottom fermenting oval buckling yeast—the typical yeast of cane juice and washes of relative low acidity. Has been sent to estates in 1908, 09 and 10.
5. Top fission yeast—has been three years in culture. Isolated from a Bluecastle wash. This culture has been used for supplying estates in 1908, 09 and 10.
6. Bottom fission yeast—three years in culture; originally from Mesopotamia wash. A typical bottom yeast.
7. Bottom fission yeast with slight top phenomena from Friendship wash—three years old. Has preserved its power of vigorous fermentation better than No. 6. Has been sent to estates as “bottom yeast” in 1909 and 1910.
8. Bottom fission yeasts—isolated in spring of 1910 from a sample of Swanswick “acid.” Its fermenting power not yet tested in 1 litre portions of wash.
9. Bottom fission yeast—from Long Pond “acid” in Spring 1910. Not yet tested.
10. Top fission yeast—from Long Pond wash, 1910. Not tested.
11. Top fission yeast—from Swanswick wash 1910. Not tested.
12. Sacchs. ludwigii—from Long Pond “acid” 1910 apparently top fermenting.
13. Same as 12—from a different plating.
14. Chained budding yeast—fron Swanswick “acid”. Not investigated.
15. Narrow oval budding yeast—from Long Pond “acid.” Not investigated—may be a variety of No. 4.
16. Pastorianus yeast—from molasses—three years in culture. Used in “orange wine” experiments.
17. Budding yeast—from Parnassus and Moneymusk discoloured crystal sugars. Very abundant in sugars. May be a Torula identical with the torula causing foaming of stored molasses. Does not ferment cane sugar.
18. Willia anomalous (“Anomalus” fruit ether yeast) three years in culture from molasses. This culture was used in experiments with the fruit ether yeast.
19. Mycoderma sp.—from Long Pond dead wash.
20. Mycoderma sp. mixed with B xylinoides—from Swanswick “acid” (See remarks on “ester formation”).
21. B. xylinoides—from Long Pond ”acid” About 1% alcohol was added to the broth.
22. B. xylinoides—from Swanswick “acid.” Alcohol added to broth.
23. Oval yeast and Rice grain variety 2.
24. Large oval yeast—three years in culture.

Literature Of “rum” And “fermentation.”

Rum.—Literature very scanty.
In Library:—
Uber Brauntwein .. Eugene Sell.
Articles by P. Greg (Mesopotamia Estate) in Bulletin Botanical
Department, Jamaica.
—Vol. 2. pts 3, 8, 0.
—Vol. 3. pt. 1.
Sugar Experiment Station Reports 1 and 2.
Bulletin Dept. Agr. (new series) Vol. 1. Xo. 1.
Bulletin Dept. Agr. (new series) Vol. 1. No. 3.
Regarding “artificial rum” see
—Rum Arrack etc., by Gaber.
—Report Whisky Commission 1908.
Fermentation —

Dr. Harris Eastman Sawyer, Architect of the Modern New England Rum style?

Not many production specifics are known about New England rums besides the fact that we liked it a lot and drank a ton of it. Mountains of scholarly works exist from other rum producing regions, but no technical documents exist (especially regarding fermentation) on New England rum besides Peter Valaer’s Foreign and Domestic Rum, 1937 which is an extensive survey (but lacking in specific areas). New England rum, like all rums, transformed from a rustic product created with little regard for science to a modern industrial concern with an agro chemist as architect of all their systems. The transformation happened at the turn of the century.

While digging, I just came across the name of Dr. H. Sawyer while searching for another agro chemist. Dr. H. Sawyer was Harris Eastman Sawyer (A Harvard guy, not MIT like I had previously thought). Sawyer was likely the architect of modern New England rum when he worked for Felton & Son’s. He provided the science that sculpted the style and allowed production to scale upwards dramatically to be among the largest in the world when New England rum went through a period of consolidation. Sawyer doesn’t seem to have been in the sugar scene of colonial researchers exchanging letters and bulletins from Java to Jamaica. He was more in the scene of American analytical chemists like Crampton, Tolman, and Peter Valaer.

It is worthwhile to single out and recognize Dr. Sawyer because the product of his work and its reputation is a large part of what has inspired a new generation of New England distillers to pursue rum. Acknowledging history can guide them either to historical production standards, so we can drink a day in the shoes of our ancestors, or along the path of progress which is the downplayed culture of the distilling industry. Sawyer as we will see in the glimpse of his life that follows was an astoundingly capable chemist. He was among the referees for new analytical techniques put out by various chemistry organizations. This means when you see numbers quoted for categories like fusel oil calculated by the Allen-Marquardt method, Sawyer was among the group of chemists that duplicated, critiqued, and vouched for the new methods.

I remember Warren Winierski, of Stag’s Leap wine fame, reflecting on the 1970’s and saying “fine wine was born in the laboratory” (as opposed to commodity wine which ruled the day). Winierski went on to explain that a style could only evolve and be sculpted with chemical analysis. Winierski, Mike Grgich, and all the other kings of Napa were all lab guys. All the same ideas apply to distilling, particularly rum, the most malleable of all spirits, and who could take it further than a chemist as capable as Dr. Sawyer?

The emphasis of the lab is also reinforced by all the technical works coming out of Jamaica. The tariffs & taxes in both England and on the continent for imported spirits were so high, sometimes four times what the spirit cost to produce, that the only way to stay relevant was to produce a product so extraordinary it was worth the egregious fees. This was high ester rum and it led to quests to advance fermentation science.

Lets take a look at the life of Dr. Harris Eastman Sawyer and start with an introduction in his own words:

In ’99 I was employed by the Trade Chemists’ Co., a New York concern doing business as tanners’ consulting chemists, as manager of their Boston laboratory. I left them toward the end of 1900, and opened a laboratory of my own on Federal Street, where I divided my time between taming bacteria and making tan analyses. About a year later I agreed to give all of my time to one of my clients; and shortly afterwards I closed my city laboratory, and moved over to his rum-distillery in South Boston. I have been there ever since.

I was married in February, 1899, to Ellen Margrethe Warberg, whom I had met while living in Copenhagen, in 1897. A year later, a daughter, Margaret, was born to us. She is still our only child.

In 1901 we went home to Denmark for a three months’ visit, and since that time nothing of any account has happened. Occasionally I get away from Boston for a few days, to attend the meeting of some scientific society or for a trip to the mountains. Regularly during the spring and summer and fall I get “up river ” or into the woods on Sundays and holidays to make up for the hours which I have to waste in the laboratory and distillery.

I never have had time nor strength to take any part in public life, but I have managed to do a good deal of chemical research work in connection with technical problems in the distillery and with the food work of the Association of Official Agricultural Chemists. Once in a while I publish a paper in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. I belong to that society, as well as to others in England and France, and I am also a member of the Economic Club of Boston. Social clubs do not appeal to me.

Sawyer was employed with Felton & Son, maker of Crystal Springs rum in South Boston.

Sawyer published three scholarly articled that are in the American Chemical Society Archives (I will track them down soon and look at their bibliographies to see what he was reading):


I tracked these three papers down and the bibliographies all point to the scene of analytical chemists which was distinct from the cast of characters in the sugar scene. Sawyer is a fantastic writer and his papers, though dealing with weighty science, are notably organized better than average. He was probably a fantastic teacher.

An earlier scholarly work from his Harvard days was On Mucophenoxychloric Acid (1894)

Sawyer was even indexed in American Men of Science A bibliographic directory:

Sawyer, Dr. Harris E(astman), 244 Columbia Road, Dorchester, Mass. Chemistry, Bacteriology. Portland, Me, April 3, 68. A.B, Harvard, 91, A.M, 94, Ph.D, 95; Copenhagen, 96-97. Consulting chemist, 97- Chem. Soc; Soc. Chem. Indust; Ass. Chim. de Suc. et de Dist. de France. Methods of saccharimetry.— Graduation of Ventzke saccharimeters; methods of determining reducing sugars in cane products; detection of adulterants in distilled liquors.

We can hear even more about his career history in his own words (1899):

Writes: ” After receiving my Doctor’s degree from the University, in 1895, I spent the larger part of a year in the private laboratory of Professor Wolcott Gibbs, at Newport, where I worked upon a variety of chemical researches.

I was appointed to the Kirkland

Fellowship in the spring of 1896, and went abroad in the summer for study; I was in Copenhagen until June, 1897, working upon the chemistry of fermentation.

On my return to America, I opened a laboratory in Boston for zymotechnical work; the examination of malt, yeast, beer, etc.

In March, 1898, I became manager of the Boston laboratory of a New York concern; and I now am carrying on my own work in connection with theirs, at 620 Atlantic avenue. ” I became engaged while I was living in Denmark and was married last February. ” Was lecturer at Harvard in 1897-98.”

Sawyer’s knowledge of chemistry was pretty spectacular and he was definitely capable of doing more than running a distillery. He also worked as a referee for the development of many new analysis techniques and seems to have been an insider regarding the latest and greatest in fermentation and distillation chemistry.

While working at Felton & Son’s distillery, and also acting as an associate referee, Sawyer wrote this Report on Molasses Analysis. The report came before his American Chemical Society article on the same subject. He also participated in the Report on Distilled Liquors by the very notable C.A. Crampton whom co-authored the most notable study on whiskey of the era. In the document, there are details of how someone would work as a referee on a technique and be sent samples to test and report back on. They made sure all work was duplicatable in ways that we don’t commonly see in science today.

Harris Eastman Sawyer died in July of 1911 as noted in the Proceedings of the American Chemical Society.

Science also had a brief death announcement:

DR HARRIS EASTMAN SAWYER AB AM Ph D Harvard assistant chemist in the Bureau of Chemistry until he removed to New Hampshire on account of pulmonary tuberculosis the author of contributions to the chemistry of sugar and alcohol died on July 5 aged forty three years

A longer obituary describes his life in more detail. Apparently he contracted tuberculosis during an experiment:

He was the son of Frederick Sawyer of Gorham. Me., and Harriet Eastman Merrill of N. Conway, N. H., and was a Civil War soldier. Shortly after his marriage moved to Boston, Mass., where he has since made his home. The death of his wife, April 7, 1910, was a great blow to him. He died Feb. 11, 1913. Both are buried in Pine Grove Cemetery, Portland, Me.
I Harris Eastman, b. Apr. 3, 1868: d. July 5. 1911.
He graduated at Harvard University in 1891. The degrees of A.B., A.M. and Ph.D. have been conferred upon him. Went abroad and while pursuing studies in chemistry under traveling scholarship from the college, at Copenhagen, Denmark, he met the girl whom he subsequently made his wife. She descended from the German royal family. Dr. Sawyer in 1908 entered the government service as an expert on the subject of fermentation, under Dr. H. W. Wiley. He contracted a disease of the throat, in some of his experiments, which resulted in his death at East Andover. N. H. His widow with her daughter, Helen Margaret, b. Jan. 16, 1890, returned to her people in Denmark, where they now reside.

A notable article on Sawyer appeared in the United States Tobacco Journal, 1907, which is worth extracting in its entirety:

In the Manufacture of Tobacco.
Dr. Sawyer’s Most Interesting Exposition.
[Special to the U. S. Tobacco Journal.] WASHINGTON, D. C., Feb. 19, 1907.

A matter of much interest to the tobacco trade came before the Senate Committee on Finance during a recent hearing on the denatured alcohol bill. Frederick L. Felton, the largest distiller of rum in the country, and Dr. Harris E. Sawyer, a prominent chemist, both of Boston, advocated the use of denatured rum in the manufacture of tobacco. At present the alcohol or rum, for it is more a raw or crude spirit than alcohol, cannot be denatured and used except at 180 proof. The rum manufacturers and apparently the tobacco manufacturers also, want to be permitted to use the rum at 150 proof. Dr. Sawyer stated that the use of alcohol is an essential feature in the manufacture of many brands both of smoking and plug tobacco. In order to carry its solution many gummy materials are added for the purpose of binding tobacco to be made into plugs. More or less is used in the lubrication of machinery and in cleansing floors and the presence of a certain amount of alcohol during manufacturing processes tend to prevent the formation of mold on moist tobacco leaves. Heretofore the manufacturers of rum added a proof of 100. In the crude molasses alcohol there are certain bodies not alcohol themselves. Even as a chemist Dr. Sawyer did not pretend to say what they were because “We simply do not know.” Their amount is so small that chemists are scarcely able even by analyses to estimate their proportion. They are bodies of a waxy nature, Something like cocoa butter and when the alcohol evaporates they are left behind on the leaf. Mr. Sawyer pointed out that if the alcohol is redistilled from a proof of 100 degrees up to the proof of 180 degrees as under the existing regulations, this wax is taken out absolutely and thus We despoil the material which we supply to tobacco manufacturers of a constituent which has been shown to have a very distinct value to them. They were unable to add this material to the denatured alcohol because they did not know exactly what it Was. He said it was this wax which keeps the tobacco from drying out and makes it smoke sweeter. They have made a number of experiments on tobacco and it had been found that after several months the tobacco treated with 150 proof alcohol packed better in a pipe than that prepared with 180 proof. Furthermore, the crude alcohol at 150 carried a variety of odorous compounds derived partly from the molasses and from chemical changes which take place during fermentation. These bodies are ethereal and like the wax they seem to be retained in the tobacco after the alcohol itself has evaporated and develop there an agreeable fruity character which fails to appear when a high proof purified alcohol is substituted for the crude medium proof product. They also resemble the Wax in being removed from the crude spirit when it is redistilled from 150 up to 180. These fruity odors which develop on the leaf, said Mr. Sawyer, are considered to be very largely responsible for the character of certain brands of smoking tobacco, and while the manufacturers are very anxious to get the benefit of the remitted tax to which they are unquestionably entitled under the act of June 7th, they desire equally to hold the present character of their brands and they wish therefore to be allowed to use the crude spirit denatured at 150 degrees rather than the pure alcohol at 180 degrees. He states as an interesting fact that practically none of the alcohol is retained in the finished tobacco. In one case the tobacco having been soldered in tin cans there were traces of alcohol present in the proportion of about one-half a gallon to a ton of tobacco. He had about fifty customers among the tobacco manufacturers and supplied fifty or sixty other dealers in spirits.

Dr. Sawyer maintained that under the definition of alcohol in the Revised Statutes, the commissioner of internal revenue had authority to permit alcohol to be denatured with tobacco extracts at proofs as low as 140 or 150 degrees, but the commissioner thought otherwise. The cost of the denaturant was a cent a gallon for strong alcohol and about half a cent per proof gallon. This attracted much interest from members of the committee and they went into the subject at some length. Senator Hansbrough thought nicotine could be used as a denaturant for alcohol to be used as an aluminant for fuel purposes. “That is the cheapest denaturant I have heard of,” he said. Dr. Sawyer agreed with him, saying it is the cheapest and in many respects the most nearly an ideal denaturant. He thought it as fully efficient as any of the general denaturants that have been recommended. He did not think wood alcohol was nearly as efficient because when mixed in proportions called for under the regulations it does not impart nearly the nauseating character to the denaturized alcohol that nicotine did. It made it smell worse and might give the man undertaking to drink it more warning perhaps but the final effect on the drinker would not be nearly so pronounced as that of the nicotine denaturant. Great things are expected of denatured alcohol. It is freely predicted that in a few years the consumption will be increased to several hundred million gallons per annum and there will be a demand for denaturing agents. It would seem as though nicotine might be used in a great many cases and there would eventually be an opening in this line of business. The prospect of the passage of the bill amending the free alcohol act does not appear to be very good at this time. The bill has gone through the House and is pending before the Senate Committee but there is great opposition to it from the dis. tillers and the ether manufacturers.

A mention possibly related to the above article appeared in the Proceedings of the Twenty-Third Annual Convention of the Association of Official Agricultural Chemists held at Washington, D.C., November 14-16, 1906

Mr. Sawyer requested a somewhat broader standard for rum than he had earlier
recommended, in view of certain experiments now in progress at the distillery where
he is engaged.

Sawyer’s role as a Bureau chemist was starting to pay off for Felton & Son’s which was starting to leverage the connection for business gains.

A lot more detail on Sawyer’s rum based denatured spirit is explained in Industrial Alcohol, Sources and Manufacture.which was revised by him under H.W. Wiley, the chief of the Bureau of Chemistry. It seems like this kind of work kept Felton & Son’s well positioned to weather prohibition. Did Felton and Sawyer both feel it coming like other people did? I bet they did!

So far I haven’t found any of Sawyer’s lectures on fermentation given at Harvard or his presentations given on rum to the agricultural and chemical societies. The best look at his teaching style and sophistication come from the above linked document. He was not describing the massive ethanol plants that would come later in the century, but rather simpler small scale farm ethanol plants producing spirits from a wide variety of substrates. One that caught my eye was the potatoes of Maine.

The document (alt PDF link) provides some clues to how Sawyer might have conducted fermentation at Felton & Son’s:

Almost invariably cane molasses needs only to be diluted and yeasted to enter into vigorous fermentation. It is common however for molasses distillers to add a certain amount of acid to the fermenting solutions to prevent bacteria from invading them and setting up false fermentations. In some cases sulphuric acid is used for this purpose as in the beet molasses distilleries, but it is equally common and probably wiser to use sour distillery slop to produce the desired acidity.

This basically describes the use of dunder, but under the name “sour distillery slop”. How significant is this note? Well it just means they were modern and aware of fermentation kinetics.

Farmer’s Bulletin 410 (p.24) has more information on the state of yeast in America in 1911. Pure cultures are described and selecting yeasts with certain characteristics. Budding yeasts are described but not fission which was part of Jamaican inquiries. One notable thing described was the creation of a “spontaneous hop yeast.” This yeast culture actually involved hops and I recollect debate in the bourbon world on whether hops were ever actually used in Bourbon distilleries. If they were, this becomes the likely context.

So Sawyer was a spectacularly capable scientist. No doubt able to bring New England rum into the modern era through in depth systematic experimentation. The fact that the distillery employed him at all showed that they were interested in advancing their production.

Hopefully soon I’ll be able to take a peak at the Crystal Springs archives and see if his name comes up in the surviving documents.