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Experiment: Che tests effects of added sugar! A must read!

 
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Guevara88
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Joined: 05 Jan 2014
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Location: Mainz/Germany

PostPosted: Tue Feb 11, 2014 11:06 pm    Post subject: Experiment: Che tests effects of added sugar! A must read! Reply with quote

After a nice discussion and my proposition of an experiment in another thread I am posting my protocol. Have fun 

Method:

I decided to use Havana Club Anejo Blanco (don't own Bacardi and am not going to change that) as an example for pure white rum. Seales 10 Years will have to stand fast in face of my terror as it's the only rum I'm certainly sure has no relevant additives to begin with.

The sugar syrup was produced by creating a 50/50 solution of sugar and water and heating things up. The resulting liquid was brought up to 86 proof with a rare vodka of my girlfriend’s parents (otherwise the addition of sugar would’ve meant the reduction of alcohol at the same time – which is rather problematic). The rums were poured into my tasting glasses until 4cl were reached. Then the syrup was added with a clinical injection. I used a labor scale sponsored by my girlfriend (she is biologist) to adjust the further addition of syrup after I took my sips… so from a scientific point of view we should be all clear:

Now to the Results:

Pure:

Havana Blanco: The smell speaks of a raw young rum. Nothing smooth here, very straight. Slight remembrance of pear and fresh apple. The taste mainly follows on the apple, though there are some pear notes available – resembling the nose. Furthermore it’s quite burny on the palate. Nice fresh rum but normally I would not want to sip it.

Seales 10: The smell appears classy. I notice dark dry fruits, leather, oakey notes, also sweet tendencies with a hint of caramel and molasses. Here we find a complex rummy taste arrangement that I don’t find easy to analyze. However I’m sure of leather, oak, almond, caramel and little bit of dried plums.

In sum: Two rums of good quality but both with a noticeable straightness and a little alcoholic tingle.
Let’s see what the addition of sugar does to them:


1g sugar/l:

Havana Blanco: Whoa. It. Changes. I am totally surprised (don’t doubt my sanity I used a clinical injection to be really sure of the added amount of syrup). The tastes remain similar but the burn is reduced significantly. A slight sweetness appears.

Seales 10: Here we can detect a shift in balance as well. The alcoholic burn – while still there – steps a little bit back. I am strongly reminded of Angostura 1919 (let’s see whether that trend continues).


5g sugar/l:

Havana Blanco: The smell changed to a milder, indeed more pleasant one. Taste-wise I begin to notice sweet apple and pear. Furthermore the alcoholic feel is now largely gone (we reach the point of much more refined spirits in this area).

Seales 10: The further addition of sugar brings a taste very similar to Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva. The nuts and almond flavor is much prominent and features a cakey and interesting impression. I would stop here. For people who do like the sweeter rum, Seales 10 with 5g/l might actually be the perfect choice  . Alas science awaits…


10g sugar/l:

Havana Blanco: Now we are getting serious. The alcohol burn disappeared. I notice notes of caramel, vanilla and molasses additionally to the persisting fruity flavors. The smell stays constant in comparison to 5g/l. If a young rum with this taste profile is actually sold it will probably receive favorable reviews since it’s soooo smooooth (and not bitter, if you know what I mean Wink ).

Seales 10: Now we have totally transformed this one. The good man your father once was, is gone… The direction goes even further in a mild sweetish area but the leather, oak and plum is actually receding in favor of coffee, vanilla, caramel and molasses. We are on par with Angostura 1919 and Zacapa 23 now. Not very exciting but caressing to the palate.


15g sugar/l:

Havana Blanco: Now this I would expect a 5-6 year old spirit from cuba to taste like. We are on an equal level of smoothness with the more expensive Havana Especial. Furthermore a hazelnut note becomes notable. Definitely sippable if sweet rums are your choice. The essential difference to Seales 10 is that Havana Blanco until now mainly gained additional flavor aspects by the addition of sugar. We will see what’s happening.

Seales 10: Holy crap. This is blasphemy. Now we are really left with the oh-so-great-flavor of Zacapa, Angostura and Diplomatico. No hint of alcoholic tingle, no oak, no leather, just smooth vanilla, caramel, coffee, burned sugar… and we reached that point at 10-15 g/l, many spirits add more than double this amount. On to the semi-final…


30g sugar/l:

Havana Blanco: No spirit at all. I am stranded with a complex flavor profile and no hint of alcohol. Don’t know what to say. If you’ve got guests who really are not into spirits (despite trying great ones) and want to convert them to the rummy side of life (without telling them they are not drinking rum at all) this might do the trick. Too sweet – now the flavors gained are receding again leaving me with apple and sugar and the still growing caramel.

Seales 10: Now I am not able to tell the difference to a Diplomatico Reserva Exlcusiva. I just tried. There are differences in the finish but the whole flavor profile is very alike. The good point for Diplomatico is that this might mean that their original unsugared rum could in fact be not only decent but great without the sugar – but if they want to cater to the smoooooth-masses then… whatever. We are bordering on too sweet here as well.


40g sugar/l:

Havana Blanco: No big difference to 30g/l. Really. Perhaps we reached the point where one is simply beating a dead man…

Seales 10: No big deal either… if one wants to achieve the sugared-rum taste profile 40g/l might be the amount needed to be sure to get everything out of it. We will see whether 50g/l change anything.


50g sugar/l (god beware):

Havana Blanco: Bah. Don’t ever do this. We do have liqueur now. Reminds me of Legendario Elixir de Cuba (only with more alcohol, which I don’t notice anymore). If this would be sold as rum without flavoring even newbies to the rum business should become skeptical.

Seales 10: Oh my poor Seales. He resists the sugary revolution much more than the Havana Blanco does. Staying quite complex, holding on to some not-so-sweet flavor aspects. Nevertheless we reached the point of liqueur here too.


Conclusion:

Surprisingly (for me): 1g/l actually changes things. That’s important. The addition of sugar to rums (that are good to begin with) brings exactly the smoothness, the buttercookie flavor, the caramel, the vanilla, you name it, that many reviewers regard so highly and desirable. Three decisive steps were identified on the way to liqueur.

The first one is 1g/l. The decision to actually add sugar – albeit very small amounts – softens the edges and makes a spirit more open for anyone not into the more piratey feelings… Then we reach 10-15g/l. Here we can make Havana Blanco as smooth as a 5 year-old spirit without sugar. Hence we can cheat. Hence we don’t want to do that, do we?

The last barrier is 35-40g/l. This is the last step before overdoing and leaving the world of spirits by entering the realm of liqueur. At 40g/l I still believed it is rum – a very smoooooth, pansy one though. However these ‘qualities’ are valued by many reviewers and many sippers and it is no surprise that some companies take their spirits (which could be sold to more serious but less numerous consumers as well) and sweeten them up.


What to do about it:

As Jimbo pointed out, there is not much to be done. I recommend for everyone to take a rather pure rum and repeat my experiment so he can taste with his own palate what happens. Now I am really equipped to identify offenders… my first target will be Mount Gay XO because I want to be totally sure that this smoothness does not result from sugaring – but will I be able to even notice 1g/l – probably not.

As long as no strict rulings about the composition of rums are enforced we will have to believe unless we get governmental information as was the case in another interesting thread.
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Dai
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Joined: 04 Mar 2013
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 12, 2014 2:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A very interesting and frightening experiment. The surprising thing that with the addition of a fair amount but, not too much sugar can transform a relatively basic rum into a good one. This gives me the impression that the rum industry standards may not be as good as Whisky or Bourbon in the quality of spirit they produce. I'm not saying that good spirit is not produced just that a lot of mediocre spirit is produced and doctored with sugar to make it better. Your experiment would seem to confirm this.

It's a pity there is no comprehensive chart of sugared rums to help in our buying choices. We have a start in what we have but is there a larger chart some where?

The thing that gets me annoyed is the fact I could be spending about £40 on a bottle of mediocre rum that tastes good but, only tastes good because of the added sugar. which means I'm not paying for quality, aging, method of distillation etc. I'm just being ripped off for some sugar.

Now I like Demerara rum (El Dorado) but would I like an independent bottler of Demerara like Cadenhead, Bristol or Mezan etc. truth be told at this moment in time I don't know. I'll have to try some samples if master of malt do them.
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Capn Jimbo
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 12, 2014 5:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There's only one word for this piece...


Brilliant, and reminding me of da'Rum's fine work in replicating British Navy Rum. Both are remarkable and extremely revealing experiments. Although I'd argued against sugaring a fine rum like Seale's on the basis that the typical practice is sugaring cheap industrial "rum", the results are very worthwhile. A young and relatively unaged rum is made palatable, while a well known and respected pure aged rum is ruined. Both are driven to a loss of nuance in favor of single-minded, sugar-driven narrower profiles to "Rum by Mars Bars".

For those of you who may read other rum websites behind my back, I'd surely link this post for the benefit of the monkeys. It's an eye opener! A huge thanks to Che.


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Quote:
Addenda: Just noted that the Havana Blanco was already at 3g/l, per the sugar content lists. Still the general findings hold and are well worth Che's efforts.

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Dai
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Joined: 04 Mar 2013
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 12, 2014 6:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Capn Jimbo wrote:
There's only one word for this piece...


Brilliant, and reminding me of da'Rum's fine work in replicating British Navy Rum. Both are remarkable and extremely revealing experiments. Although I'd argued against sugaring a fine rum like Seale's on the basis that the typical practice is sugaring cheap industrial "rum", the results are very worthwhile. A young and relatively unaged rum is made palatable, while a well known and respected pure aged rum is ruined. Both are driven to a loss of nuance in favor of single-minded, sugar-driven narrower profiles to "Rum by Mars Bars".

For those of you who may read other rum websites behind my back, I'd surely link this post for the benefit of the monkeys. It's an eye opener! A huge thanks to Che.


Dew dew Jimbo, I'd be quite to do it if you were sitting next to me. I'll stick the link on the Counts forum someone else will need to do it for (the site we all know) as I'm banned.



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Bearman
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Joined: 19 Apr 2013
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 12, 2014 6:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just want to join the "club" and say that this was a very interesting read.. I don't think I am going to try this, but I am glad you did. Good job Smile
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Capn Jimbo
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 12, 2014 7:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you do decide to try MGXO...


I'd urge you to bite the bullet, and also buy a 375 or a few mini's of Bacardi Superior and take one for the team.

It's fair to say that Bacardi is avoided here not only based on their rum, but much more so based on their business practices. But testing and proving a theorem is another matter. Frankly, I have little doubt that the results will be similar, but featuring the Evil Bat would be even more effective.

Not to mention that these buggers are perhaps the prime mover of industrial rum and additives - and - producing their Superior at a provable 0g/l. Your sacrifice will be seen as an act of bravery in the service of truth and education, an act for which you will not only be forgiven, but praised by all crewmembers, if not the universe, lol...

Che, you're the pointman now...
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Hassouni
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Joined: 05 May 2013
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 12, 2014 7:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Poor Seale's!

Very well done, Che! Now to pour most of my not-actually-rums down the sink....
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da'rum
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 12, 2014 7:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Really great stuff. Not hugely surprising results except the similarities to DRE with the nutty notes. I'm going to try this with S&C. Excellent work Che.
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sleepy
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Joined: 13 Nov 2012
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 13, 2014 2:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Simply said: that's Seales' abuse! BTW - HC Blanco IS Bacardi due to an obnoxious trademark suit.

On the positive side, I've discovered that if I'm in a hole with no decent rum, drink rum and tonic with lime. Makes Mount Gay Eclipse very tasty. Smile

Standard tonic is very sugar rich - thanks for demonstrating why adding it results in improvement!
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Hassouni
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 13, 2014 5:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Did HC take over the Bacardi factory? I know a lot of the old rum plants in Cuba were renamed after the revolution




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Capn's Log: The Bacardi/Havana Club controversy has long been settled and won worldwide by Pernod/Havana Club except in the US where Bacardi paid Representative Tom Delay $20,000 to sneak a heavily lobbied phrase into a large bill. A cheap payoff.

http://rumproject.com/rumforum//viewtopic.php?t=439

If you are interested in this subject, please go to this thread. Carry on...
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Hassouni
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 14, 2014 6:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Capn's Log: The Bacardi/Havana Club controversy has long been settled and won worldwide by Pernod/Havana Club except in the US where Bacardi paid Representative Tom Delay $20,000 to sneak a heavily lobbied phrase into a large bill. A cheap payoff.

http://rumproject.com/rumforum//viewtopic.php?t=439

If you are interested in this subject, please go to this thread. Carry on...


I saw the thread, but that wasn't quite my question. Many of the old rum distilleries were nationalized and renamed, and old Cubans often refer to them by their own name. I can't remember off the top of my head, but one of the modern Cuban rums is locally known as Matusalem, since it's made in what was that distillery.
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JaRiMi
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 17, 2014 4:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This experiment is indeed worth trying, as it can be very revealing in the sense that one sees how sugar additions changes the rums - and makes them precisely that which so many of our good (??) "rum gurus" have told us rum should be like - smooth, easy, caressing sweet (liqueur) stuff to sip. Sugar equals quality, vive la sucre!!

Now as the next step (yikes!!!!), I would dare someone who enjoys a whisky to do this with some lovely single malt whisky...and offer a choice of "sugar-whisky" and "non-sugar whisky" to friends who are NOT into whisky, but are into rum - or are not really what we call whisky or rum hobbyists. Which one they will enjoy better? I think I know the answer already, because I have tried it Smile
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Capn Jimbo
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 26, 2015 7:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bigga Bump...


...for two reasons. First is that our good friend Che, known here as Guevara88 (whom I personally miss and for good reason) took a great deal of time to put his test and report together.

What remains impressive is just how little sugar (forget the extractives) it takes: just one lousy gram is detectible and has an effect, and even at just five grams an otherwise good rum (like a Seales) is actually degraded. Do yourself a favor and review his report. I've also included a link to the original post, out of which Che's fine work emerged.

Kudo's to Che! Again!




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http://rumproject.com/rumforum//viewtopic.php?t=1114&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0
http://rumproject.com/rumforum//viewtopic.php?t=1148&highlight=
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Guevara88
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 28, 2015 1:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Actually I am still a silent reader. However a New and time consuming full time job, Begining work on a Dissertation and my wedding in May have left me with very little spare time...

Despite the odds I managed to pull together the exact same Experiment with a bottle oft canadian "Whisky", a bottle oft Jim Beam and a sample of rather sophisticated single malt - i forgot the Name.

The results are not ready but I can preview that they are not as shocking as with rum.

I hope to create an actual report and post it in the Nest future.
Best

The Che
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