Recipe: Make your own spiced rum!

As a rum lover I’ll always dream to make my own product, but the lack of knowledge, distilling equipment and just money generally doesn’t really allow me, so I chose the next best thing: home infusion.

If you followed me at all you’ll know I took part in the Chairman’s Spice Lab competition, and while I didn’t win (bhoo!), it was an interesting and productive experience. Besides making my own cacao bitters I didn’t really have too much experience with infusions, but it turns out it’s not rocket science – you just need a couple of items, some rum, a bit of patience and a decent palate.

I’ll lay down my own detailed The Rum Barrel not-so-secret recipe here, feel free to use it as you see fit and send me your feedback.

The items you’ll need are all widely available and mostly self explanatory, but I’ll tell you the whys anyway – I used Amazon for most of mine because I am lazy like that:

  • Jars – I did my infusion separately as I’ll explain latter in the post, so I recommend getting as many jars as spices/botanicals you plan to use. I just got a 24 pack of 8oz jars.
  • Measuring glass and jug – For measuring the rum for the infusion and the final produce after is done.
  • Small digital scale – If you wish to be consistent and accurate as I am you’ll need one of these to weight the spices/botanicals used.
  • Fine mesh strainer – To strain most of the bits out of the rum after the infusion is ready.
  • Coffee filter papers – To strain the smaller particles. This is not necessary if you plan on drinking the rum quick, but if you want to store it for a while you’ll need this to avoid further infusion from small spice leftovers and risk it getting bitter.
  • Empty, clean bottles/decanters – You need to store it somewhere right?

Rum! Choosing the base rum for your infusion should be mostly a quality/price ratio based decision since you don’t want to use something too expensive given most of the flavour will get “tarnished” by the spices. For my spiced rum I used Mount Gay Eclipse which is both cheap, unsweetened and has quite a bit of body to it. Other rums I’d recommend would be Appleton Signature Blend, Chairman’s Reserve Original, Doorly’s 5 Year Old, Angostura 5 Year Old or maybe even Wray & Nephew Overproof (the higher the ABV the more aggressive the infusion).

Spices! Here is where it gets fairly personal, I used a pretty complicated recipe featuring 9 spices, but you can always simplify or change it based on your own tastes and what you have in your cupboard. Here is what I used and why:

  • Nutmeg, cinnamoon & cloves – Just classic warm spices that are almost always enjoyable.
  • Earl Grey Tea & Singapore Breakfast Tea – I feel like tea is very underused in the booze world for an ingredient that is literally made to infuse liquids. The Singapore Breakfast Tea is a blend of green tea, black tea, coconut and vanilla, I used this for the vanillary and nutty flavours, but it can be subbed for a vanilla pod.
  • Pink pepper – I am a huge fan of hot spiciness and the pink pepper adds just that, plus its flavour is similar to that of a red/fortified wine and blends well with the other spices.
  • Raw cocoa nibs – Who doesn’t love a bit of cacao flavour really.
  • Orange & lemon zests – Some citrus to add some sharpness and balance all the other rich spices.

Now to the actual recipe! I filled 9 jars separately with 150ml each of rum using 1350ml of rum aka 2 bottles of Mount Gay Eclipse. Next I placed a spice per jar and let them infuse as it follows:

  • Nutmeg4 grams or 1 whole nutmeg cracked in 4 pieces – 4 days infusion
  • Cinnamon12 grams or 3 cinnamon sticks broken in halves – 4 days infusion
  • Cloves1.5 grams – 5 days infusion
  • Earl Grey Tea2 grams – 4 days infusion
  • Singapore Breakfast Tea4 grams – 4 days infusion
  • Pink pepper10 grams – 5 days infusion
  • Raw cocoa nibs7 grams – 5 days infusion
  • Orange zest4 grams or 2 small zests (no pith) – 5 days infusion
  • Lemon zest4 grams or 2 small zests (no pith) – 4 days infusion

Be aware the infusion time is influenced by plenty of factors such as the ABV of the base spirit, temperature, quality of the spices and so on. The higher the ABV and temperature the faster it will infuse so you might be tempted to place the jars on a radiator, but the infusion might become bitter if you’re not careful and rush it. I left mine in the kitchen which is the hottest place in the house.

After 2/3 days use a pipette or a straw and start tasting each jar daily – you’ll be looking for how well the profile of the ingredients integrated into the rum and if the flavour tends to become bitter. If it does, then use the measuring glass and fine strainer and strain the spices out of the rum – repeat with each jar when ready and keep the infusions separate.

The blending is my favourite part. After you have all your infused rums in separate jars, using the measuring glass start doing equal measures (I went for 100ml each), pour them into the jug and mix the blend with a spoon and taste.

If you’re happy with the taste then decant the rest of the rum, if not, try and figure out what is overpowering and add more of the missing flavour/s. You might end up with some leftover infused rum which you can always add to your coke… or shot.

Use the coffee filter papers for the final filtration. It’s a pretty boring and slow process, but definitely worth it if you want your rum to store your rum without altering its flavour or simply you want it to look neat. I used one filter per 200ml and then discarded it.

Place your final product in your bottles or decanters and let it rest for a day or two for the flavours to blend together and settle.

If you have a sweet tooth you can always add some syrup to it, I would recommend a 2:1 Demerara sugar syrup.

Now you can start making drinks with it and figure out what’s the best serve for it. Maybe a hot rum drink with apple juice and some Falernum, a basic rum and coke (not to brag, but my recipe goes very well with coke), over ice with a dash of sugar like an Old Fashioned or just add it to your hot chocolate.

This was a fun project for me, feel free to experiment with various spices and infusions, make your own recipe and ask your friends what they think.

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