Of all the various stages of rum production, fermentation holds the most magic to me. Here, nature is largely left to her own devices; a large vat, some heat, and yeast combining with the mash (a heated mix of water and molasses or fresh cane juice) to set the initial foundation of flavor and sophistication for your rum.
Of course, different rum makers take their own unique approaches to fermentation, employing varying strains of yeast and leaving them to do the work of transforming the sugars in the mash to alcohol for varying lengths of time.
As a general rule, though, the shorter the fermentation, the lighter the rum. Darker rums, on the other hand, are left to ferment awhile longer, yielding blends that are richer and more full-bodied.
You might surmise, then, that as a longtime producer of some of the world’s finest rhums, Haiti’s Rhum Barbancourt (est. 1862) takes its time with fermentation… And you would be right.
The bubbling mixture pictured above at the legendary Rhum Barbancourt Distillery in Port-au-Prince sits for at least three days at a steady temperature of 86-degrees Fahrenheit. The yeast cultures utilized in the process are produced on-site at the distillery in accordance with an ancient secret recipe.
There exist other dark rums that are fermented a good bit longer, but 72 hours is right about the sweet spot for Rhum Barbancourt. Considering its 150+ years of success, they’d be crazy to change a thing.