Glossary of rum

22 August 2022 | Discover
Glossary of rum




Ageing is the period during which the rum is kept in a barrel. The alcohol then acts on the wood like a solvent to take on aromatic elements. The rum gradually takes on color through contact with the wood.

The wood used is mainly American oak or French oak. While new barrels are increasingly popular with rum houses, the majority of barrels used around the world are still barrels that previously contained other spirits, particularly Bourbon.

Today, a Vieux or V.O (Very Old) rum is aged for at least three years. A very old rum or V.S.O.P (Very Special Old Pale) is aged for at least four years. An Hors d’âge or X.O (Extra Old) rum is aged for at least six years.

Agricole (rhum)

This designation matches a European definition. Rhum is produced exclusively by distillation, after alcoholic fermentation, of sugar cane juice. The term “agricole'' can only be used for the French overseas departments and the autonomous region of Madeira. A pure cane juice rhum produced outside these territories cannot claim this “agricole '' designation in the European Union and must write on its product “based on pure cane juice” or equivalent. In the English-speaking world, “Agricole Rum'' often refers to any rum produced from pure cane juice.

Angel share

This poetic name refers to the amount of rum evaporated during the ageing process. Generally expressed as a percentage, the angel's share in a tropical climate amounts to 6-8% per year, whereas it is only 2% in a continental climate.



The batch indicates a single distillation and/or a single ageing. We then speak of Batch 1, Batch 2, Batch 3, etc. about a reference that lasts and is renewed over time. It is often used as the English equivalent of the word "cuvée".

Battery syrup

La canne à sucre est une graminée originaire de Nouvelle-Guinée. Après avoir voyagé durant l’Antiquité en Inde, en Chine puis en Perse, elle conquiert le Sud de la Méditerranée d’où elle est ramenée en Europe au XIème et XIIème siècle. En 1493, lors de son second voyage, Christophe Colomb l’implante à Hispaniola, aujourd’hui Haïti. De là elle se répand en Amérique. 

La canne à sucre est l’unique matière première du rhum. Elle est utilisée pour produire du sucre, puis du rhum, ou bien directement du rhum à travers le jus de canne fermenté puis distillé. On trouve des milliers de variétés de cannes à sucre dans le monde, chacune adaptée à son terroir. Les Centres de recherches de la Canne à sucre les plus réputés du monde se situent à la Réunion et à la Barbade.



The Cachaça appellation is protected by Brazilian law. The alcohol must be the fruit of pure sugar cane juice. After a short fermentation, it will be distilled in a column or pot still, and the abv must be between 38 and 48%.

Cane honey

Cane honey is cooked cane juice that has not undergone any sugar extraction. All rums produced in Guatemala are made from cane honey.

Cane juice

Sugar cane juice is obtained after crushing the cane. Several presses, called rolls, are used for extracting the juice. Cane juice is used to produce sugar or rum directly.

Cane sugar

To obtain sugar, the cane juice is first clarified, decanted, with lime. Then it is heated to benefit from the first evaporation, then cooked to obtain crystallization, and finally passed through a centrifuge to collect the crystals. The remaining, non-crystallizable sugar-containing material called "molasses" is used to produce rum. Cane sugar can be refined or unrefined.


Clairin is a cane brandy distilled in Haiti, using stills. Fermentation can be spontaneous or carried out using wild yeast. The Clairin was registered in the National Register of Cultural Heritage of Haiti in March 2021. There is also the Clairin called "trempé" or “soaked”, that is to say having benefited from a maceration of fruits and / or spices.

Congeners / Non-alcoholic elements (ena)

Non-alcoholic elements, also called "congeners", are fundamental aromatic elements in a spirit. During fermentation, various elements are created including ethanol (alcohol) but also acid molecules, esters which are a fusion between alcohol molecules and acid molecules, and other molecules. Distillation separates and selects these other elements that influence the final taste of the rum. French agricole rhums, for example, contain around 300g of nae per hectolitre of pure alcohol.



Distillation is the operation of separating and selecting the chemical elements created during fermentation. Distillation does not create any alcohol but concentrates the level of ethanol contained in the fermented wine.

Double ageing

Double ageing corresponds to the use of two separate barrels during ageing. Thus, the rum is  transferred from one barrel to another during maturation. Not to be confused with a finish, where the change of cask generally takes place at the earliest, the last year.



Fermentation is one of the most secret stages in the production of rum. This is the operation during which the sugars are transformed into ethanol. Also emerge the molecules of acid, ester, higher alcohols and other molecules that will be selected during the distillation. The final aromas of the rum appear during this stage. Fermentation can be spontaneous, meaning it is carried out using micro-organisms already present in the must, or using yeast.


Filtration is an unsystematic process of eliminating the last elements deemed undesirable, such as fatty elements, or to modify the color of a rum, before bottling. Filtration is usually done using activated carbon.


A full proof rum is a rum that has not undergone any reduction in alcohol content between leaving the column and bottling. We then obtain very high abv rums.


Geographical Indication (GI)

The geographical indication is a standard that meets specifications, meaning that at least one fundamental operation in the development of a product takes place in a defined geographical area. Unlike the AOC, the GI does not necessarily meet the requirements of the terroir. The know-how and the tradition are put forward. The specifications of a GI are not necessarily less demanding than the specifications of an AOC.

Grand Arôme

Grand Arôme rum is characterized by its high ester content and high aromatic intensity. In Martinique, Rhum Grand Arôme has a minimum content of volatile substances (non-alcoholic elements) equal to or greater than 800 grams per hectolitre of pure alcohol and a minimum content of esters equal to or greater than 500 grams per hectolitre of pure alcohol. These characteristics are obtained by adding vinasse (acid residues from previous distillations) to the molasses during fermentation.

Rhum Grand Arôme is produced in Martinique, Réunion and Jamaica.


The Grogue is the name rum is given in Cabo Verde. It is produced exclusively from pure cane juice and often distilled in pot stills.


Old term to designate rum in the 17th and 18th centuries in France. It would probably be a derivative from the English Kill-Devil.


High Ester

A High Ester rum is a rum containing a fairly high ester rate. In general, this rate is at least 500 grams per hectolitre of pure alcohol, although there is no known official definition. Réunion produces renowned High Ester rum. In Jamaica the classification of rums in each distillery is based only on esters.



After extraction of the sugar crystals contained in the cane juice, there remains a thick viscous material containing non-crystallizable sugar, which is called molasses. To make rum, this molasses is diluted and then fermented before being distilled.

Monovarietal (Rum)

A monovarietal rum is a pure cane juice rum, produced from a single variety of cane selected for its aromatic profile. Blue and red canes are the most used in this context in the French West Indies.


The Must designates the wine of cane juice or molasses diluted with water, intended to be distilled. 


Navy Proof

In the British tradition, a rum called "Navy Proof" is a rum with an alcohol content of around 57%. In the Royal Navy, the rum on board had to be at least 57.18 degrees so that the gunpowder was always usable, if by chance the rum leaked on it. Below this degree, the powder no longer ignited.



During ageing, rum undergoes significant evaporation. A vacuum then forms between the rum and the upper part of the barrel. We then practice what is called in French the “ouillage”, meaning the barrels are filled up with a rum identical to that in the barrel, to fill the void.

Over Proof

The concept of Over Proof is similar to that of Navy Proof. But instead of an alcohol content around 57%, an Over Proof rum is at least 57%, without being Full Proof. Therefore, the rum benefited from a slight reduction of Abv. Many Over Proof rums are around 60%


Parcellaire (Rum)

It is a pure cane juice rum produced using sugar cane from a well-defined plot, identified for its terroir and its exposure to a particular climate. “Parcellaire” rum is can also sometimes be monovarietal.


Originally, Punch was a drink made using spirits and spices. The word comes from the Hindi "panch" meaning "five", echoing the five ingredients of the drink. Punch travels from the 17th century to America with different recipes, and becomes a rum-based drink. Today, in Réunion, punch uses a mixture of rum and fruit juice, as opposed to arranged rum which is a maceration of fruit. On the other hand, in the French West Indies, the definition of punch approaches arranged rum as made in Reunion, while the planter matches to the definition of punch in Reunion.


A l’origine le Punch est une boisson à base de spiritueuxagrémentée d’épices. Le mot viendrait de l’hindi«panch» signifiant «cinq», faisant écho aux cinq ingrédients de la boisson. Le punch voyage dès le XVIIème en Amérique avec différentes recettes, et devient une boisson àbase de rhum. Aujourd’hui, à la Réunion, le punch fait appel au mélange de rhum et de jus fruit, par opposition au rhum arrangé qui est une macération de fruits. Par contre,aux Antilles françaises, la définition du punch s’approche du rhum arrangé tel que fait à la Réunion, alors que le planteur correspond à la définition du punch à La Réunion.



The reduction of a rum is the action by which the alcoholic content of the rum is reduced by adding water, to obtain the desired abv for consumption.


According to European regulations, rum is a spirit drink produced exclusively by the distillation of the product obtained by the alcoholic fermentation of molasses, syrups produced during the manufacture of cane sugar or the alcoholic fermentation of sugarcane juice itself, distilled to less than 96% vol. Thus, the distillate must present, in a perceptible way, the specific organoleptic characteristics of rum. The minimum alcoholic strength by volume of rum is 37.5%.


Single Cask

Old rum from a single barrel and selected for these taste characteristics. Single cask rum has not undergone any topping up and is opposed to blended rums.

Small Batch

Rhum vieuxissu d’un fût unique et sélectionné pour ces caractéristiques gustatives.Le rhum single cask n’a subi aucun ouillage et s’oppose aux rhums d’assemblage.

Solera (Method)

In the dynamic aging process called "Solera" (meaning "ground"), the barrels are stacked on top of each other and each level corresponds to a different age. The Solera method consists of periodically tapping a portion of the rum contained in each of the barrels of an age and refilling these barrels with younger rum. This operation takes place periodically during aging. Since 2019, the age indicated on the bottles is calculated according to the age of each of the blended rums, as well as the volume that each of these rums represents in the final product.

The Solera method was originally used in Spanish wines before spreading to the world of  “Latin” rums.


The still was originally used in medicine or to create flower essences. It was used in Europe to distill brandy from the 13th century and then in the New World in the 16th century. It consists of a boiler into which the must of cane juice or molasses is poured. During the heating, the alcohol vapors rise in the capital then circulate in a snake, a long tube, which ends in a refrigerated coil where the vapors condense. A first distillate is thus obtained which must be distilled again to obtain rum. Over time many improvements were made. Today, many mixt devices are used that combine the characteristics of a still and a column. In the French-speaking world we often speak of a Charentais type still. In the English-speaking world, the word Pot-Still is used. Different models of stills exist in the world.


Sugarcane is a grass native to New Guinea. After having traveled during Antiquity to India, China and then Persia, it conquered the southern Mediterranean from where it was brought back to Europe in the 11th and 12th centuries. In 1493, during his second journey, Christopher Columbus implanted it in Hispaniola, today Haiti. From there it spread to America.

Sugarcane is the only raw material for rum. It is used to produce sugar, then rum, or directly rum through fermented and then distilled cane juice. There are thousands of varieties of sugarcane in the world, each adapted to its soil. The most renowned sugarcane research centers in the world are located in Réunion and Barbados.


Traditional (Rum)

A traditional rum has a rate of non-alcoholic elements equal to or greater than 225g per hectolitre of pure alcohol and contains less than 90% after distillation. It can be based on pure cane juice or molasses.



Vesou refers to fermented cane juice, that is to say cane wine, in the French overseas territories. It generally titles between four and seven degrees.


Residual liquid from the distillation. Rich in potassium and very acidic, it is sometimes added during fermentation to produce High Ester and Grand Arôme rum. In some distilleries, the vinasses are treated by methanation. On one side comes out gas that can be used as fuel and on the other side fertilizer used for the cultivation of sugarcane.



A living organism that consumes sugar to reproduce. It activates fermentation. After digestion, it releases ethanol. There are industrial, wild or indigenous yeasts. At the end of the fermentation, we obtain a wine.